Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a child despite trying for one year. It affects about 5.3 million Americans, or 9% of the reproductive age population, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. If you have been having roadblocks to starting your family or expanding your family, now more than ever, there is a multitude of modalities that can assist you in your reproductive goals. An integrative approach to address this condition can prove to be effective and transform your health along the way. At Arizona Natural Medicine ®, we offer an integrative model, utilizing Western medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture to create harmony and reproductive health and increase your ability to conceive. This can be done without traditional infertility treatments or can be a transformative complement to traditional infertility treatments, such as intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
We know that all types of families and people struggle with infertility and we want to give you the best possible tools for success in creating and expanding your unique family.
INFERTILITY IN WOMEN
At Arizona Natural Medicine ®, we offer an integrative model to address your reproductive goals. We are able take a comprehensive assessment of your health care goals. This may include traditional blood work, nutritional assessment, a profile of your current and past medical history, as well as, functional tests that show how the body is working rather than the presence of disease. Addressing this in a comprehensive way can yield wondrous outcomes. In addition to that, the use of TCM and acupuncture has been proven to offer significant benefits in treating infertility. Acupuncture can be used alone or in combination with other traditional reproductive treatments. Studies have shown acupuncture can increase the success rate of IVF, reduce the incidence of miscarriage, stimulate follicle count and size, and increase the endometrial lining of the uterus. Some of, but not all, of the benefits are listed below.
- Improve blood flow to the uterus
- Improve thickness of endometrial lining
- Decrease physical response to stress
- Balance hormones
- Improve ovulatory function and follicle stimulation
- Modulate side effects of fertility medications
- Improve sperm count, motility and morphology
- Improve the success of IVF and IUI outcomes
A German study done in 2002 showed that of the 80 women who underwent IVF and received acupuncture, 34 women got pregnant, a success rate of 42.5%. Of the 80 women involved in the study who received IVF without any acupuncture treatments, only 21 women (26.3%) became pregnant. More recently, an American study involving 114 women showed that 51% of the women who had acupuncture and IVF treatments became pregnant versus only 36% of the women who had IVF alone. Deeper analysis of this study revealed that, while 8% of the women in the acupuncture group miscarried, the rate of miscarriage in the IVF-only group was 20%. Furthermore, women who received acupuncture also had lower rates of ectopic pregnancies.
Although acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapeutic art, this 6,000 year old form of medicine is gaining scientific credibility due to current research. Studies have sited that the mechanism through which acupuncture influences female fertility involve several physiological actions. Acupuncture is believed to affect the central stimulation of endorphin secretion which in turn impacts gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). GnRH acts on the pituitary gland via the brain to produce follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) which in turn stimulate follicle growth and induces ovulation. It also increases blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Many traditional fertility medications also stimulate the ovaries and ovulation. The result of this physiological chain of action through acupuncture is a positive effect on the uterus that favors implantation.
Utilizing acupuncture and other natural integrative therapies, it is our goal to help regulate your menstrual cycle, address hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue, or other conditions that may impede natural conception, such as, ovarian cysts and endometriosis.
We take a functional medical approach that determines what is your fertility “roadblock”?. Do you have issues with follicular development or maturation, ovulation, luteual phase defects such as reduced endometrial lining thickness and low progesterone, immune or clotting issues with implantation, or something else?. By looking at the body’s function and identifying and addressing your unique roadblock, we are better able to find solutions that allow you to be more successful in conceiving.
We utilize the benefits of acupuncture, botanical medicine, Chinese herbs, nutritional interventions, and other tools to create balance, restore health, and give you the best possible outcomes. When you prepare the body for natural conception, you are more likely to conceive, prevent miscarriages, and have a healthy pregnancy.
We can serve as helpers in your corner to achieve your reproduction goals. We are always willing to participate in combination with other fertility treatments if that is your request. However, we encourage our patients with or without western based traditional reproductive techniques to restore their own health in the process of increasing their fertility and preparing for pregnancy.
ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE THERAPIES (ART)
Many couple and single individuals are employing the Assisted Reproductive Therapies (ART) of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intra-uterine insemination (IUI). The addition of Chinese medicine and acupuncture to these therapies greatly improves the success of a pregnancy.
For patients who are using reproductive technologies (ART), acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help in several ways.
- Improve thickness of the uterine lining
- Improve the quality and quantity of follicles
- Modulate side effects of fertility medications
- Reduce stress
- Decrease the chance of miscarriage
INFERTILITY IN MEN
It is a myth that infertility is always a “woman’s problem.” Infertility affects both women and men. Of the 80 percent of cases with a diagnosed cause, about half are based at least partially on male problems (referred to as male factors)–usually that the man produces no sperm, a condition called azoospermia, or that he produces too few sperm, called oligospermia.
Some cases of male infertility are due to anatomical abnormalities such as varicoceles and ductal obstructions but it is estimated that a large percentage of cases are due to poor motility, morphology (shape), and low sperm production.
Researchers found that acupuncture treatment reduced the number of structural abnormalities in sperm and increased the overall number of sperm. The medical journal Fertility and Sterility, July 2005 reported that “acupuncture therapy led to a significant increase in the motility levels of sperm and the percentage of healthy sperm increased dramatically with the median percentage of healthy sperm increasing more than 4 times after 10 visits”.
Chinese herbs, nutritional supplements, dietary changes, and other integrative medicine modalities may also be used to assist in increasing male fertility.
Common problems, such as constipation, morning sickness, insomnia, and low back pain can be treated with natural and safe medicines. This is particularly of value, since many pharmaceutical medications are discouraged during pregnancy.
For example, a patient came to the office in her 13th week of pregnancy with excessive vomiting. With her first pregnancy she had similar symptoms but this time is was severe, vomiting 10 times per day and had chronic nausea so bad she was unable to prepare food. She was treated with vitamin B6 intramuscular injections and a homeopathic medicine, and within 2 days her symptoms were reduced from vomiting 10x per day to 1-2x per day, and after 5 days, she was no longer vomiting and was able to resume her normal life.
When you realize how a few extra tools can make such a significant difference in the quality of your pregnancy experience, it is remarkable.
We do not provide obstetric services but we do assist with problems in pregnancy when you need a safe, effective alternative to drug therapy.
We encourage acupuncture treatments after the baby arrives. Even though this is a busy time, the restoration of the mother’s health is imperative for well-being, and helps with the ability to be present with the newborn. In addition to acupuncture, most homeopathic medicines can be used during breast feeding. Acupuncture and homeopathy can be used to restore health in the following ways:
- Restore hormonal balance
- Expedite healing after a c-section
- Treat insomnia, constipation, fatigue
- Balance mood
- Address symptoms of post-partum depression
Arizona Natural Medicine ®, offers integrative therapies to restore and replenish the health, energy, vitality and well-being of the mother (and father). This process can begin as soon as possible post-delivery. Acupuncture is a way to expedite the healing process. Many women feel more energetic and vital after 3-4 treatments post-delivery. Many women are unaware that there are integrative tools to restore your health and make the transition from pregnancy to motherhood, a healthy and transformative process.
THE INFERTILITY JOURNEY
At Arizona Natural Medicine ®, we would like to be your advocate on your journey toward creating your family. We know that the tools we utilize create the best support in creating opportunities for success. We strive to empower you in the process whether this is with natural conception, IUI, IVF or any other avenue to create happy and healthy families. We wish you heartfelt success in your journey.