Having a family is a dream that many of us have but unfortunately often it doesn’t come naturally. It is now estimated that 1 in 6 couples have trouble falling pregnant. With modern medicine, overcoming infertility is technically becoming easier, but this is often a very stressful experience. The road to having a baby often becomes long and hard.
What are the different types of infertility?
Primary infertility refers to couples who have not become pregnant after trying to for at least one year.
Secondary infertility refers to couples who have been pregnant at least once, but are now unable to.
Unexplained or idiopathic infertility means that no reason can be found for couples to not fall pregnant, this counts for up to 30% of people with infertility.
What are some known reasons for infertility?
- Ovulation disorders meaning that there is infrequent or no ovulation at all.
- Fallopian tube problems.
- Endometriosis is a condition where the cells that line the uterus also grow in places outside the uterus. This can distort the tubes and ovaries or block ovulation.
- Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition referring to many partially formed follicles on the ovaries that never grow to maturity. Women who have PCOS may experience irregular menstrual cycles or no menstruation, excessive facial or body hair growth, acne, hair loss and mood changes.
- Fibroids are benign lumps of tissue that can grown inside and around the uterus. The location and size will determine if they affect fertility.
- Male infertility affects around half of all infertile couple. Most common are problems with sperm production, movement or shape, sperm antibodies, chromosome and DNA abnormality and hormonal problems.
How does Chinese medicine view infertility?
Chinese medicine uses different measures to find out what might be the problem in case of a couples infertility. We extensively examine the medical history, including blood tests and other investigations that have been done but we have some extra tools that give us more, much needed information. Often we will ask the woman to record her BBT’s (Basal Body Temperatures) for a while which gives us a lot of insight in the hormonal cycle and we also feel the pulse and look at the tongue for more clues. This means that also in case of unexplained infertility, we often find some information that we can work with to support fertility.
What is the current research status on acupuncture and infertility?
Clinical trials about the effect of Chinese medicine on fertility are not very common which means that there is unclear and insufficient evidence on the effect of Chinese medicine on infertility. Most of the research has been done the effect of acupuncture (and sometimes herbs) on IVF patients (see IVF).
What is involved in a fertility acupuncture session?
In your initial session we take our time to go through your history and gather all the information we need to get to a Chinese medicine diagnosis. It is important you bring all your blood results and reports from other investigations with you.
Every session starts with discussing your current symptoms and overall health. To get further information we will then feel your pulse and have a look at your tongue. We decide on the points that we will be using that session and insert fine needles into those points. The needles will stay in place for 20-30 minutes during which you can rest and relax. After the needles have been removed you can get up again and continue your day.
What can I expect after my acupuncture session?
Most people rest deeply whilst having acupuncture and feel very relaxed after the session. There is nothing in particular that you need to do or not do afterwards, just do what feels good to you. In the days after the treatment you will start to notice the positive effects the session has on your health and wellbeing. The effects are accumulative, that means that after more sessions the effects tend to last longer. Generally for fertility acupuncture we will need to see you over the course of at least 3 months. We will discuss during your first session what is to be expected in your particular case and how many sessions will be needed.
Can I claim my fertility acupuncture session on my private insurance?
Most Private Health Funds cover acupuncture however it is important to check your level of cover with your health fund prior to your treatment. We do have HICAPS facilities so if you’re covered you will only have to pay the gap.