Monday, March 26, 2007

Acupuncture and Infertility: Here's How It Worked For This Couple.

I have treated a goodly number of people seeking support for infertility. About 95% of the time, I see women coming in with various degrees of imbalance, leading to a Western Medical diagnosis of Infertility.

Just to set the record straight, a disproportionate number of women assume responsibility for infertility issues, regardless of their male partner's fertility status. I seen many women in the clinic, who tell me that everything checks out just fine for them, no diagnosed impediments to infertility from their side....but, they have a husbands with low sperm count/poor motility/ odd morphology, etc...and then the conversation wraps up with something like this:

"And, Bob doesn't really believe in acupuncture, so I figured I would try it to see if it maybe won't help out somehow."

Statistically, 10-15% of all couples experience infertility at some point (with infertility defined as "absence of pregnancy after one year of unprotected intercourse").

Male factor infertility happens 30% of the time, female factor infertility 35% of the time, 15% of the time it is both the man and woman involved, and 20% of the time it is "Idiopathic", or "without a known cause".

So, if the guys aren't getting checked out, there's a 30% chance that everyone is overlooking the cause! So, get with the program fellas, and make sure the boys can swim! And if they swim, but not as well as they could, or there aren't as many as there could be, then consider getting some acupuncture treatments to boost your vital energy and give yourself the best chances at sneaking one past the goalie.

I digress...

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there really isn't such a condition as "Infertility". There are obstacles that hamper fertility, and there's sterility, but there's not such a diagnosis as infertility.

Things that can block vital energy flow, or disrupt a health circulation of blood and fluids in the body might include: poor diet, lack of exercise, too much stress, worrying too much, being frustrated or angry, and not getting enough sleep. There are many more reasons, but these are frequent contributors.

A qualified practitioner, Licensed in Acupuncture, can interpret your body's signals, indicating where your particular imbalances are, and how they can be unblocked, opened and restored to promote an enhanced level of fertility in your body.

How can a person interpret your body's signals? By feeling your pulse, asking you questions, looking at your tongue for variations in tissue color, moisture and coating. All of these and more types of clues are given from all of us, and if you know how to interpret them, you can understand where imbalances are, and how they can be balanced.

If you are interested in learning more about this, bookmark this blog and check in again over the next few days, as I will be adding three more case studies that help illustrate how acupuncture works, for whom it works, and how it might work for you, if you are trying to support your own fertility, at the moment.

Case Study: Inability to conceive for three years: natural conception with TCM.

"Cathy", 24 years old. Has been trying to conceive naturally since 9/2000. No structural issues with her reproductive system, husband's sperm count and motility are fine. Cathy has irregular menstrual cycles, with long time lapses between periods. Periods are light in flow, with complaints of pre-menstrual symptoms (breast distention/tenderness, and irritability). She also complained of feeling tired, and has a job that demands a great deal of mental focus. She also complained of feeling bloated after meals.

Her health intake revealed a habit of drinking iced water and chewing on ice chips throughout the day. Otherwise, diet and exercise fell within acceptable ranges, and stress levels were moderate (although escalating with desire to conceive without results).

A few items stand out in this case. Cathy has irregular menstrual cycles with missed periods and scanty menstrual flow when her periods occur--she also has a history of excessive consumption of iced beverage/ice chips.

She is bloated and tired and has a lot of mental energy pouring out for her job and concerns of not conceiving.

These observations lead us to immediately think of the Spleen energy. Remember, the Spleen will be damaged by cold foods and beverages, over-thinking/worry; a weak Spleen will not be effective in Building Blood and nourishing the uterine lining.

Because her periods are so light, it indicates her Spleen is unable to Build Blood fast enough to prepare her for monthly menstrual cycles.

Cathy's treatment was aimed at supporting her Spleen by replacing cold beverages with room temperature water and warm herbal tea, and using both acupuncture and herbal medicine to increase her Spleen's function. We began once-weekly acupuncture sessions and herbal treatment, and modified her dietary habits slightly.

Result: By our seventh treatment together, Cathy noticed she had spotted briefly, but had not had her period. She had ovulated twelve days prior and felt a different sense of breast distention. By our eighth week of treatment, Cathy's pregnancy test confirmed that she was pregnant. We started treatments 12-15-05 and achieved a positive result by 1-27-06.

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