Fertility Conditions We Commonly See
Unexplained infertility is our strength at Nashville Natural Fertility. In many cases, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) along with basal body temperature chart analysis can give insight into your fertility challenges. We will look at your body through the window of TCM and can often find disregulation where western medicine may not look. We also look at sperm issues in different ways that may explain male factor fertility challenges.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Our success rates for live births with PCOS are >70%. We use acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine and dietary recommendations to encourage ovulation. Once PCOS patients ovulate, they get pregnant rather easily. Most of the symptoms of PCOS also start to abate after ovulation resumes.
Research clearly shows endometriosis makes pregnancy more difficult. In addition to fertility challenges, endometriosis can cause extremely painful periods. We get aggressive with endometriosis using acupuncture and dietary and lifestyle changes and almost all our patients feel much less painful periods and show more well-regulated basal body temperature charts. And many have fallen pregnant. We also consider abdominal massage and other techniques if necessary.
Luteal Phase Defect
Luteal Phase Defect, a short 2nd half of the cycle, responds extremely well to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture and herbs can affect hormones and we use BBT charting to make sure we are lengthening the luteal phase. Western medicine often prescribes Progesterone to extend the luteal phase, but studies show this does not dramatically increase pregnancy rates. If we can regulate the luteal phase naturally, we find pregnancy and full term delivery is a natural outcome.
Male Factor Infertility
Male factor infertility contributes 50% of the time or more and can be harder to treat than female factors. In the absence of structural issues or infection, western medicine offers few options other than IVF with ICSI (choosing a few of the best sperm and directly injecting it into the egg), both extremely costly procedure.
Traditional Chinese Medicine on the other hand feels like sperm count, motility and morphology are a direct reflection of overall health and functional balance. Stress, overexercise, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine use and other lifestyle factors can wreak havoc on the male reproductive system. We use acupuncture, supplement recommendations, herbal approaches, and diet and lifestyle recommendations to create functional balance. We often find this leads to improved sperm analyses. Treatment is done in three month increments and follow up sperm analyes are recommended to monitor progress.
Obviously it is impossible to get pregnant if the egg cannot pass freely through the fallopian tubes. Tubes can be blocked by a kink in the smooth muscle, twisting, or scar tissue related to several conditions. In severe cases, the tubes cannot be unblocked and IVF is the only option, however if your tubes have any chance of clearing, we think our methods work towards that goal. In fact, there is a burgeoning industry to try and unblock tubes. We use a variation on the theme using acupuncture, herbs, and aggressive abdominal massage techniques to relax smooth muscle and create movement. If your tubes can open, we feel we can help you work towards that goal.
Advanced Maternal Age/Diminished Ovarian Reserve
Culturally, women are waiting longer to have children. This is a natural outcome of women spending more time on self and career. Unfortunately the biological clock does not always cooperate. It’s a fact that it’s harder to get pregnant as women age, getting progressively more difficult past 35, than 38 and 40. Western medicine feels like ovarian reserve and egg quality are fixed and unchangeable and continue to decline with age. Traditional Chinese Medicine feels like egg quality is a manifestation of your “energetic reserves” and may be improved with acupuncture, herbs, and lifestyle changes. Life tends to use our energetic reserves, but we can help you replenish. We have several pregnancies “over 40” to show our approach works.
Without ovulation, you cannot become pregnant. We have great success encouraging ovulation and we can prove our success through looking at basal body temperature charts. Whether anovulation is caused by a primary condition like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) or is the primary diagnosis, we can often induce ovulation with acupuncture and herbs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers miscarriage an indication of imbalance in either the mother or embryo/fetus. Modern understanding of habitual miscarriage can include reduced blood flow to the fetus, complicated immunological factors or other causes.
The 1997 NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture states considerable evidence exists that acupuncture:
- Releases endorphins, the bodies natural pain medicine
- Activates the hypothalamus and pituitary gland resulting in a broad spectrum of systemic effects
- Alters the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones, affecting mood and regulatory functions
- Changes the regulation of blood flow, both centrally and peripherally
- Alters immune function
“Regulation of blood flow” and “alters immune function” may explain how acupuncture might prevent miscarriage. Our clinical experience shows it does!
Ovulatory Stimulant/IUI/IVF Support
Several studies suggest acupuncture can help make IVF’s more successful and by extension, likely ovulatory stimulants (Clomid, Femara, & Follistim) and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). Given what is at stake and the costs involved, we feel like it’s worth trying anything that might increase your chances of success. Our goals when working with Ovulatory Stimulant/IUI/IVF patients is to:
- Create blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Studies prove this one.
- Regulate smooth muscle of uterus and ovaries
- Relax you!
- Treat your underlying imbalances
- Address side effects of medications
Thin Uterine Lining
Studies prove acupuncture can thicken the uterine lining. Thin uterine lining can be caused by many factors and we tailor your treatment to fit your unique circumstances. Expect 8-9 treatments and feeling a lot more relaxed.
There is a long history of inducing delivery with acupuncture.
Doctors are quick to induce with harsh drugs. We take a more gentle approach. Assuming the baby is head down and mother is healthy, we do a treatment every other day until delivery. Mother lays on her side and we needle points in the low back that innervate the uterus. We then hook up a small electroacupuncture machine that sends a gentle current to the needles. We also needle a point above the pubic bone to relax the cervix and several other points that stimulate the uterus and create downward movement. Sounds scary, but its actually quite relaxing to mom.
The electroacupuncture stimulates uterine contractions. Usually 2-5 treatments does the trick. About 70% of the women we induce deliver naturally! Success rates increase with increased dilation and contraction sensation, though we’ve had success with no dilation or contractions.
Research shows acupuncture makes IUI’s and IVF’s more successful!
There is building research that a series of 8-10 acupuncture treatments before egg transfer dramatically increases the chances of success with IVF. There is also research that a treatment soon before and after egg transfer also increases IVF success rates. We extrapolate that to IUI’s as well. We follow both research protocols and have a 60% plus success rate with our IVF patients, well above the success rate across populations.
Plan on trying to do 8-10 treatments before IVF transfer, a treatment the morning of transfer and one when you are off bedrest. For IUI, we usually follow a one treatment per week protocol.