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The benefits of Acupuncture and TCM in treatment for the infertile couple can be found in early Chinese medical literature from 11AD. Not only do these techniques assist in regulating the menstrual cycle and invigorating the sperm, but they also address tubal adhesions, PCOS & endometriosis. Additionally, acupuncture also increases blood flow to the endometrium, helping to facilitate a thick, rich lining.

In Chinese medicine there is a saying that one should “cultivate the soil before planting the seed.” By respecting that each and every organ has its own unique role to play in allowing our bodies to perform to the potential, we begin to understand that in order for our bodies to be able to reproduce and give life it needs to be balanced. While treatments with acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine can indeed improve your rate of success and help couples conceive within a relatively short period of time, it is more often the norm that it will take at least a few months (generally 3+ months) to achieve successful results. This is because the body needs time to return to a healthier state. This whole body approach is the key that unlocks unlimited potential in healing you.

Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Female Infertility

A large number of clinical trials have been conducted throughout the world which demonstrated that acupuncture can support and increase pregnancy rates and reduce anxieties related to infertility and the IVF process.

Moxibustion therapy may accompany acupuncture too. Moxibustion is often used along with acupuncture and it is used to draw toxins out of the body, mostly at the point of the complaint. The purpose of moxibustion, as with most forms of traditional Chinese medicine, is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of “Qi” and maintain general health.

By applying moxibustion to certain points, blood flow to the reproductive organs increases. It can be used to regulate menstrual cycle and the fertility hormones, making it a good way to treat infertility.

Greater blood flow to the uterus, which moxibustion does provide, will prepare the uterus for implantation. In the case of pregnancy, it will also assist the baby to move into the correct position for natural birth. In an 1998 article in the American Medical Association Journal did find that about 75% of women who had moxibustion therapy to turn a breech baby did result in the baby turning appropriately.

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine for Male Infertility

The World Health Organization (WHO) assesses male fertility via a sperm analysis, which measures the volume, count, motility and morphology of the sperm sample.

Yin deficiency creates heat in the body. Sperm-producing cells do not function well in a warm environment. This internal heat is the main cause of poor sperm count and poor quantity and quality of seminal fluid.

Some of the signs and symptoms associated with Yin deficiency are: premature ejaculation, restlessness, feeling hot – especially at night, thirst, dark scanty urine, red face, red tongue with a scanty coating and a thin, rapid pulse.

Younger men with hectic lifestyles tend to be Yin deficient. Kidney Yang deficiency, on the other hand, will have signs such as: intolerance for cold, frequent pale urine, fatigue, impotence, low libido, pale tongue and slow pulse. Low sperm count and poor motility can be explained by Kidney Yang deficiency. Older men typically fall into the Yang deficient category.

Two other TCM diagnoses may contribute to male infertility:

  • Damp Heat may accumulate in the genital region. Signs of Damp Heat would be abnormal discharge from the penis, painful urination, jock itch and yellow tongue coating.
  • Qi and Blood stagnation may occur as a result of trauma or surgery to the testicles. Varicoceles, a varicose vein in the scrotum, may cause obstruction leading to Qi and Blood Stagnation. Both of these conditions may exist against a background of Kidney deficiency and should be resolved first.

Regardless of the TCM diagnosis, the quality and quantity of sperm and semen can be improved with Chinese Herbal medicine and appropriate lifestyle changes. Because it takes 2-3 months for sperm to mature, treatment should persist for at least this long.

Acupuncture has been shown to be very effective in increasing sperm motility and decrease the number of abnormal sperm, as well as addressing those cases involving Qi and Blood Stagnation. Acupuncture is also beneficial to help relax the couple during what can become a very frustrating time when the couple is undergoing infertility treatment. For Kidney deficiencies, acupuncture is usually used in conjunction with long-term Chinese herbal treatment. Where Kidney Yin deficiency is predominant, a good base formula would be Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Zuo Gui Wan. Where Kidney Yang deficiency is predominant, good choices would be Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan or You Gui Wan. The herbs He Shou Wu and Gou Qi Zi increase quantity of sperm. Wu Zi Yan Zhong Wan tonifies jing, improving sperm quality, especially where there are abnormal forms. Another guiding formula for both Kidney Yin and Yang deficiency is Bu Shen Yi Jing Fang. Long Dan Xie Gan Tang and Si Miao San usually resolve Damp Heat.

Varicocele’s may need to be surgically repaired, but many cases have been resolved by using the herbal formula Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan for several months along with applying cool packs to the scrotum twice a day.

A TCM diagnosis should be determined by a trained practitioner and formulas modified to address each individual’s constitution.

Adding essential fatty acids found in fish oil or flaxseed oil are good for both cardiovascular and reproductive health and will contribute to the health of the sperm and seminal fluid. Important nutritional supplements and antioxidants to support healthy sperm production include vitamins C, E and B12, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, pycnogenol (an antioxidant found in extracts such as grape seed extract), L-arginine, and L-carnitine.