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Traditional Chinese Medicine for Infertility

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dates back approximately 5,000 years and has been used to treat infertility and miscarriage as early as 200 A.D. Using a combination of acupuncture, herbs, massage, diet, and exercise, TCM treats the root causes of a condition, balances disharmonies, and alleviates a patient's symptoms. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently acknowledged the ability of TCM to facilitate healing in many diseases, and nearly one quarter of the world's population still turns to TCM for their primary health care.

TCM stems from ancient Taoist philosophy which views a person as an energy system in which mind and body are deeply connected, each influencing and balancing the other. An individual's emotional experiences, eating habits, work habits, work and living environment, personal habits, and social environment are all factors that contribute to overall health or illness. The belief is based on the concept of yin and yang - opposing energies, such as earth and heaven, winter and summer, and happiness and sadness. When yin and yang are in balance, you feel relaxed and energized; but they can negatively affect your health when out of balance.

Practitioners also believe that there is a life force or energy in every body, known as qi (pronounced "chee"). In order for yin and yang to be balanced and for the body to be healthy, qi must be balanced and flowing freely through energy pathways in your body called meridians. When there's too little or too much qi in one of the meridians, or when the flow of qi is blocked, you become ill.

According to TCM, the inability to conceive does not necessarily imply infertility; it simply means an imbalance in one's optimum reproductive health. Traditional Chinese practitioners believe reproductive imbalance is caused by one or more of the following syndromes:

  1. A "deficiency" syndrome prevents the hormonal system from properly influencing the sexual and reproductive functions. This is said to be a weakness of the "kidney and liver."
  2. A "stagnancy" syndrome prevents the sexual and reproductive organs from functioning despite normal hormone levels and normal ability to respond to hormones. This is said to involve a stagnancy of "qi and blood," which restricts circulation to the tissues involved.
  3. A "heat" syndrome, which causes the affected organs to function abnormally. This type of syndrome can produce abnormal semen quality in males, while gynecologic infections can cause female infertility by blocking the passages, changing the mucous membrane conditions, or influencing the local temperature.
Practitioners believe TCM can increase fertility in women by:
  • Establishing a regular menstrual cycle
  • Rebalancing hormonal functions, decreasing elevated levels of FSH and encouraging ovulation
  • Increasing endometrial lining
  • Increasing and regulating beneficial cervical fluid
  • Unblocking fallopian tubes
  • Decreasing stress levels
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Increasing the libido
TCM can increase fertility in men by:
  • Improving sperm motility
  • Improving semen volume
  • Improve sperm quality (morphology)
  • Decreasing stress
  • Increasing the libido

After a TCM practitioner diagnoses a pattern of disharmony, treatments for fertility generally involve weekly acupuncture appointments and daily consumption of an herbal formula. Diet modifications, exercise, and massage may also be recommended.

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