The need for reproductive medicine intervention is more common now than ever before. The centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) state that 6.7 million women have an impaired ability to become pregnant or carry a baby to term. The percentage of married women that are infertile is 6% in the United States alone. Couples are desperate to conceive and in their desperation are looking to reproductive and alternative medicines for a safe and effective treatment. Chinese medicine is one of those alternatives that future parents are investigating. With recent studies being published out of Britain, Sweden, and Germany, indicating that acupuncture can be beneficial as an assistive reproductive technique (ART), Chinese Medicine (CM) now finds itself at the forefront of the infertility scene. Traditional Chinese Medicine has always had a strong grasp on women’s issues, including infertility. A main concept in CM with regard to fertility is the concept of constitutional strength. The blunt nature of CM information is sometimes hard to hear but is frequently full of common sense. For example, the concept of age and fertility is challenging from conventional reproductive medicine and in CM is exceptionally important as well. The health of the parents (both parents) at the time of conception plays a huge part in the ease of conception. Chinese Medicine dictates that hopeful parents should take one full year to become clean in mind, body, and spirit before attempting to become pregnant. This includes clean (healthy) eating (abstaining from alcohol), appropriate exercise, and meditation upon the intention to create life. It is a purposeful progression in mind, body, and spirit and one that builds upon the foundation which is set by the couple.
In America, everyone is moving at what seems to be the speed of light and with that in mind, another important concept in CM is that of overwork and excessive physical work (exercise). Overwork is defined as long hours without adequate rest and includes an irregular diet. Excessive physical work including exercise, sports, and excessive sexual activity can cause difficulty in conceiving later in life. Chinese Medicine also has a strong conviction in regard to what is termed pathogenic factors. One of the most prolific of these in Chinese medicine is the pathogenic factor, cold. It is believed in Chinese medicine that cold can easily invade the Uterus and thus create an inability to conceive. If you think about it, it would be hard to bake bread in an oven that didn’t have the ability to become warm. This concept always reminds me of the cliché phrase..”a bun in the oven”. This concept of cold also relates to the excessive consumption of cold or iced foods. This can also lead to cold in the uterus which as we know makes conception really difficult.
Another concept in CM that leads to infertility is one of the stagnation of energy (Qi). This is very common in our modern world where women are under great amounts of stress. Women do not stop to rest during their menstrual cycles when they are losing what is considered the essence of their energy. Women continue to push until they are exhausted mentally, physically, and spiritually. This stress and subsequent exhaustion leads to stagnated energy and causes all sorts of imbalances in health. If a woman is out of balance pregnancy is extremely challenging. Add to that the factors of age, general health, constitution and lifestyle, and viable pregnancy is sometimes impossible. There are many factors that can contribute to infertility. Energy levels, age, stress, lifestyle, diet, and exercise can all affect how available the body is for conceiving and nurturing. It is easy to see that while acupuncture can help many of these issues it is not the only modality that is required. Proper alignment and balance of the body, mind, and spirit are essential for the desired result. Acupuncture can be utilized as a sole therapy for fertility or as a complement to reproductive medicine. Receiving acupuncture while undergoing conventional fertility treatment increases the chance of success.
Remember, seek out ONLY qualified board-certified practitioners of acupuncture and oriental medicine. You can find one near you by visiting www.nccaom.org.