Female infertility is defined as the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting woman to achieve pregnancy in one year. The state of subfertility refers to the inability to carry a pregnancy to a live birth.
There are many factors which may cause infertility or subfertility, advanced maternal age is one of the common causes in modern women. It can be further complicated with conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis. Furthermore, these conditions can often cause irregular menstruation cycle, heavy menses flow and painful periods.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which includes the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has rich histories in treating gynaecological diseases including infertility. In modern days, acupuncture is performed by inserting ultra-thin, sterile needles into specific acupuncture points on the body. Stimulation of these acupuncture points regulates and brings balance to the way in which the body functions. In recent years, several studies have examined the mechanism of acupuncture, how it improves fertility and enhances assisted reproductive technologies (ART) procedures such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intra-uterine insemination (IUI). These studies have shown that the pregnancy rate of the patients undergoing acupuncture treatment concurrent with ART is higher than those patients who did not receive acupuncture and relied on ART alone.
Along with advances in technology, CHM is currently available in water-soluble powder which is convenient to prepare. A recent study suggested that the odds of achieving pregnancy with Chinese herbal medicine are twice greater than with standard Western Medical drug treatment alone or IVF over a 4-month period.
As each individual is unique, the acupuncture points and CHM prescribed are chosen after a detailed TCM assessment. The main objectives of the TCM treatment may boost fertility through:
- Regulating the quality of menstrual cycle (colour, consistency and flow of blood, as well as to prevent or reduce associated symptoms such as abdominal cramps, headaches, etc).
- Improving ovarian function by allowing the development of better quality eggs and healthy embryos.
- Enhancing the thickness of the uterine lining and thus promoting implantation of the embryo.
- Relaxing the body and relieving stress for women experiencing infertility or those undergoing reproductive therapy.
Whether it is for aiding natural conception or to enhance assisted reproductive technologies procedures, it is recommended that patient receive the TCM treatment 6 months prior to the procedures.