Reproductive Health

  • REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH:
  • FEMALE INFERTILITY
    • Ovulation disorders
      • PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
      • POF (Premature Ovarian Failure)
    • Fallopian tube disorder
    • Cervical mucus disorder
    • Endometriosis
    • Adhesions
    • Fibroids
    • Uterus – endometrial lining
    • Elevated FSH
    • Ageing
    • Unexplained infertility
    • IVF Preparation
    • Pre & Post conception
    • Miscarriage Prevention
  • PROFILE: ACUPUNCTURE AND IVF COMBINED
  • MALE INFERTILITY
    • Low Sperm count
    • Abnormality in sperm shape / motility
    • Sperm Antibodies
    • Hormone deficiency
    • Varicocele
    • DNA Fragmentation
  • MENOPAUSE

Menstrual or Period Disorders:

Amenorrhoea / Early / Late / Irregular / Light / Heavy / Painful / Mid-cycle bleeding / Menorrhagia (flooding) / Metrorrhagia (trickling). All of these conditions can be improved / corrected using through use of acupuncture & herbal medicine. The diagnosis is based on analysis of the cycle, volume of bleed, colour and density of blood, clot size & colour, discharge associated and any odour. Other factors to consider include use of contraceptives which alter manifestations.

PMS:

The cyclic occurrence of symptoms developing approx one week pre-menstruation: breast tenderness, bloating, constipation/loose stools, insomnia, acne, headache, pelvic pain, irritability, depression, mood swings, etc. These generally end after the onset of the period.

Med Acu It is contributed to by variety of factors, hormonal fluctuations, diet, stress, worry, alcohol consumption, caffeine, sugar, salt, greasy foods, spicy foods, etc., depending on the individual.

 

Acupuncture and herbal medicine regulate many of the factors, including hormonal, which contribute to PMS and gradually ease/correct the imbalances associated.

INFERTILITY

Acupuncture is a natural therapy and encourages your body’s neurological, physiological and endocrine systems to work in harmony for optimum benefit to you, and what you wish to achieve. It will enhance and support conception, whether through natural means or Assisted Reproduction (AR) treatments. Among infertile couples, approx 40% is due female infertility, 40% due to male infertility, 10% both, and 10% unknown.

 Med AcuTherefore both partners should undergo diagnostic testing to assess reproductive health when considering assisted reproduction treatment.

Statistically, it is accepted that Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are powerful and effective treatments to help couples conceive and carry a healthy baby to term. Success rates generally increase by an extra 15-20%.



It can take over 3 months for an egg follicle to reach maturity., and a similar time for sperm development. This is a window of opportunity to enhance reproductive function using Acupuncture which can help improve metabolism, relaxation, sleep, blood circulation, egg quality, and increasing the thickness of the endometrium over 5mm (the lining of the uterus) and circulation to it so that pregnancy can be sustained. Therefore, for you to optimise a successful outcome, you should prepare your body for 3 months prior to IVF treatment. As you age blood flow and hormone levels diminish to the reproductive organs, significantly affecting the quality and volume of egg and sperm production. By increasing circulation and stimulating hormone levels, acupuncture can enhance the environment in which both eggs and sperm develop.

For those trying to conceive naturally Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can:

  • Regulate menstrual cycles
  • Treat endometriosis, fibroids and PCOS
  • Improve circulation to the reproductive organs, improve egg and sperm quality
  • Help indicate ovulation stage and optimum time to conceive
  • Help prevent miscarriage post conception and during pregnancy.

For those opting for assisted fertility treatment, IVF, ICSI, Donor treatment:

  • Improve quality / quantity of follicles and sperm
  • Improve thickness and circulation to uterus lining to sustain pregnancy
  • Reduce side effects of Western fertility drugs (abdominal discomfort, vaginal dryness, headaches, thinning of endometrium, nausea / vomiting, etc)
  • Strengthen immune system and overall health
  • Help ease stress and anxiety so that you are more relaxed, calmer
  • Increase the success of implantation
  • Help prevent miscarriage post implantation and during pregnancy

It is important to remember healing takes time. Acupuncture and lifestyle changes during the preconception stage are very important, whether you are trying to become pregnant naturally, or through IVF/ICSI.

Research articles are available for you on the ‘Resources’ section.

Ovulation Disorders

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

A hormonal condition resulting in development of multiple cysts about the ovaries, and/or the eggs within the ovarian follicles. Associated with abnormal or absent ovulation and infertility, common other symptoms include irregular period, increased hair growth, insulin resistance, skin thickness, weight gain, and persistent acne. A blood test may indicate increased testosterone & LH levels, and ultrasound shows swollen ovaries with half-mature follicles surrounded by cysts that look like a string of beads.

Med-Acu This is a complex disorder due to multiple hormonal imbalance. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views PCOS as the result, not the cause, of hormonal & internal organ function imbalance.

Acupuncture and TCM protocols can improve many of these ovulation disorders and optimise ovulation function. Acupuncture has been proved to stimulate ovulation by regulating the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian system.


(Acupuncture Normalizes Dysfunction of HPOA, by Do-Ying Chen, MD) (see PCOS Diet in ‘Resources’ sect.)

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)

Loss of ovarian function and oestrogen levels in women under 40 yrs. This results in premature menopause. Affects approx 1 in 1000 women between ages 15-29, and 1 in 100 women between ages 30-39 yrs.

Though the symptoms are similar to menopause, the condition is different. Menopause naturally occurs with age, follicle diminution and menstrual termination. POF women may miss periods for a few months then temporarily re-establish normal cycles, symptoms may include mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, restless legs, insomnia, vaginal dryness, poor energy, etc. FSH levels are very high (40+mlU/ml), yet many of the women may ovulate, and a few may become pregnant.

Gonadotropin medications commonly used in fertility clinics to stimulate the ovaries for IVF can be effectively enhanced using Acupuncture for the reasons previously listed. Additionally, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine have been shown to be very effective treating POS & Menopause symptoms.

Endometriosis

The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the endometrium is found in anywhere in the pelvic cavity – on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvis, etc.

Med-Acu Severe pain develops which correlates to the period cycle generally. It can be very debilitating, having a significant negative impact on quality of life for the person suffering. It can also cause scar tissue and adhesions to develop interfering with reproductive organ function contributing to infertility in 30-50% of women.

Acupuncture and TCM is safe, effective and has been used successfully in treating Variety of gynaecological conditions including endometriosis.

Adhesions

Med-Acu Fibrous bands of tissue that form between tissue and organs often as result of surgery, scarring or endometriosis, This fibrous tissue adheres to one, two or more organs and over time impedes their function, occasionally causing organs to become twisted or pulled from their normal positions, resulting in infertility, chronic pelvic pain, etc.
Surgery is required if the condition becomes debilitating.

 

Fibroids

Uterine tumours which arise from muscle cells in the wall of the uterus. They are not malignant or cancerous, 30% of women have them, but not all exhibit symptoms. They range in size from as small as a pea to a water melon, and there are usually more than one in the wall of the uterus. The location & size of the fibroid will dictate the uterine dysfunction and can cause / contribute to infertility.

Med-Acu
The symptoms range from none to heavy bleeding periods, flooding periods, bladder pressure causing urine frequency, pelvic pressure – heavy feeling, back pain, pain with intercourse.
When fibroids and adhesions interfere with fertility, surgical intervention is usually the most suitable course. Acupuncture & TCM can help small fibroids to re-adsorb but will be unlikely to improve more serious conditions.  

Elevated FSH

Follicle Stimulating Hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and stimulates the ovaries to encourage follicular growth resulting in release of healthy eggs. The more responsive the ovaries to FSH, the less the amount required for follicle development.Day 1 of the menstrual period is the first day of the follicular phase & BBT temp is 36.2º – 36.5ºC.
To determine FSH level, a blood test is taken on day 2-3 of the menstrual cycle. If FSH is elevated, ovarian function is diminished and follicle production is reduced affecting the number / quality of eggs. Typical symptoms resemble menopause, hot flashes, night sweats, headache, vaginal dryness, etc.
Acupuncture and TCM can effectively improve this condition. Since it takes approx 3 months for development of the egg before released from the follicle, Acupuncture & TCM can improve the quality of the egg by stimulating blood flow to the reproductive organs.

Ageing

Elevated FSH levels reveal declining ovarian function, weaker egg quality and low numbers, making them less capable of implanting. Fertilization is also associated greater risk of genetic abnormalities with increasing age. Chromosomal abnormality in a woman age 20 yrs is 1/500, while the risk in a woman age 45yrs is 1/20. Gynaecological problems increase with age (tubal damage, ovulation problems, endometriosis, fibroids, etc) These conditions are improved through use of Acupuncture & TCM.

Uterus – Endometrial lining

Med-AcuA controversial subject. Some IVF clinics require the endometrial lining to be not less than 5mm with ovulation imminent in order to support a healthy pregnancy. In general, 8-15mm is regarded as good. Ageing, elevated FSH levels and fertility medications can reduce the thickness of the endometrium. Acupuncture has been proved to increase blood supply to the uterus and increase the thickness of the endometrium.  

Unexplained Infertility

A frequent diagnosis, Western medicine cannot find a medical explanation for your fertility difficulty. This is good though, because having gone through the various blood tests, scans and Laparoscopy procedures, it removes any fear that you may have a functional pathology – fibroids, adhesions, endometriosis, ovarian difficulties, fallopian tube blockage, etc., and sperm analysis is normal. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a different approach to issues of infertility than Western medicine. TCM takes into account all aspects of health, emotion, environment, menstrual cycle and dietary situations which contribute to system imbalance. Using TCM diagnostics the contributory factors become apparent and treatable. The most likely causes in terms of TCM relate to blood deficiency, blood stagnation, cold uterus, stress, PMS and poor egg quality, all of which can be treated effectively.

MALE INFERTILITY

Semen analysis values as determined by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Ejaculate 1.5 - 5ml
Sperm Concentration >20 mill / cc
Motility >50%
Forward Progression >2 (scale 1-4)
Morphology >30% normal forms

Testicular factors:

Testosterone & Sperm are produced in the testicles, if testicles are small it may cause inadequate testosterone levels or poor quality sperm.

Infection

Infection, including sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), mycoplasmia, mumps and glandular infections all cause sperm to be less motile.

Varicocele

Abnormally large, twisted (varicose) vein that drains blood from the testicle. It may prevent normal coolingof the testicle, raising testicular temperature. This may damage sperm.

Blockage to ejaculatory ducts

Some men are born with a blockage to that part of the testicle containing sperm or the ejaculatory ducts which inhibits ejaculation.

Autoimmune Issues

Antibodies target sperm damaging them. Semen analysis will determine which aspect of semen function is impaired.

Motility

The sperm’s ability to move rapidly toward the egg. If impaired, fertilization may not occur.

Morphology

The shape and structure of the sperm. If abnormal, the sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg may be impaired.

Liquefaction

Before ejaculation, the sperm are contained within thick and mucous-like semen. Following ejaculation, the semen normally liquefies and becomes water-like to enable the sperm to swim toward the egg. Abnormality of seminal vesicles may impede this .

Count

A sperm count of less than 20million/millilitre of semen is considered low even though it takes only one sperm to fertilize an egg. Acupuncture and TCM treatments have been shown to improve these conditions effectively. They relate to specific treatable syndromes in acupuncture and TCM.

DNA Fragmentation

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is where a single sperm is injected into an egg. This proceedure allowed infertile males, if they had any sperm, to have children, irrespective of liquefaction, morphology, motility, sexual or testicular problems. If the egg is healthy, it is now known that fertilization is not a measure of sperm quality, and the embryo fails to implant, or miscarries in early pregnancy, perhaps the difficulty lies with the sperm. DNA is a genetic imprint organised on 23 structures called chromosomes. It looks like a spiral staircase. The sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA) looks at the structure of the staircase to determine if any of the steps are broken – less than 15% is considered normal, up to 30% will cause reduced fertility, and if over 30% the individual will be unlikely to father a child.

MENOPAUSE

The transition stage in a woman’s life which marks the end of childbearing, the ovaries stop producing eggs, menstrual activity decreases and ceases, and the production of oestrogen and progesterone decreases. Perimenopause marks the start of this change, imbalances occur as hormone levels reduce, causing symptoms like weight gain, mood swings, depression, insomnia, worry, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, headaches, night sweats, restless legs, hot flashes, fatigue, poor memory, irregular bleeding, and heavy bleeding. Hormone replacement therapy to counteract these symptoms is controversial, and has been linked to many adverse conditions including cancer, hypertension & headaches. Studies have shown that Acupuncture and TCM greatly reduce / clear menopausal symptoms, relax and enhance the persons quality of life. It is contributed to by variety of factors, hormonal fluctuations, diet, stress, worry, alcohol consumption, caffeine, sugar, salt, greasy foods, spicy foods, etc., depending on the individual. Acupuncture and herbal medicine regulate many of the factors, including hormonal, which contribute to PMS and gradually ease/correct the imbalances associated.