What is Infertility?
Infertility is a condition when a woman is unable to conceive or get pregnant after two years of trying for natural pregnancy actively. It has been observed that more than 10 – 18% of couples face this problem and deal with conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, high FSH, low progesterone level, poor egg quality, premature ovarian failure, hypothyroidism, recurring miscarriage, and secondary infertility. In approximately one-third of the cases, infertility results from female factors rather than male. In most of these cases, the cause of infertility in women is hard to diagnose. If you are one among these women, it is time to seek acupuncture, one of the best natural remedies to treat infertility problems.
What are the Causes of Infertility?
Advanced Maternal Age: It is evident in the modern era that delay in childbirth can lead to infertility. Women are waiting until their thirties and forties to have kids and that has an adverse effect on the functioning of the uterus and ovaries. With increasing age, the number of healthy eggs decreases at a rapid rate and the quality of the egg also declines. Women rarely generate healthy eggs beyond the age of 45.
Ovulation Disorders: A woman should release mature and healthy eggs, which is very important to conceiving naturally. Ovulation can be detected by keeping a menstrual calendar. There are numerous disorders that can prevent a woman from ovulating. PCOS is one of the most common disorders that impact ovulation. If a woman’s cycles are not regular, it is advised that she seek the help of a doctor and get the problem diagnosed properly.
Tubal Occlusion (Blockage): Blocked fallopian tubes can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases including chlamydia, gonorrhea, or pelvic inflammatory disease. Tubal occlusion is a cause of infertility because the ovulated egg is unable to be fertilized by the sperm or to reach the endometrial cavity. In this case, it may be advisable for the woman to seek in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Read Our Case Study: Endometriosis and Infertility
Endometrial Polyps: Finger-like polyps grow in the uterine cavity on the lining of the uterus known as the endometrium. Polyps decrease fertility rate by up to 50%, leading to numerous health-related problems. Removal of polyps by the minimally invasive procedure hysteroscopy is associated with a doubling of pregnancy rate. In some cases, simply removing the polyps solves infertility.
Endometriosis and Fibroids: Endometriosis and fibroids change the condition of the endometrium and negativity affect proper implantation, making a pregnancy very difficult. Endometriosis can cause scar tissue in the reproductive system, leading to adhesion or total blockage of the fallopian tubes. Hormone imbalance underlies these two conditions, which can also cause infertility. Acupuncture can help re-balance your hormones.
High FSH: The pituitary gland secretes a follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. If the ovaries do not function well, the pituitary will try to produce more FSH to push the ovaries to work harder. Young ovaries do not need too much FSH to function normally. Generally, if the follicular stimulating hormone level is above 10, your ovarian function is compromised. Read More.
Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism can decrease fertility in a few ways. First, if the thyroid does not function well, the pituitary gland produces more thyroid stimulating hormone, which is associated with a higher rate of unsuccessful pregnancies and miscarriage, as shown by a study done by R. Nigro in Italy in 2007. In addition, the hypothyroid condition can influence ovulation: a higher percentage of women with hypothyroidism show abnormal ovulation. Fortunately, the effects of hypothyroidism can be mitigated by certain dietary and lifestyle changes.
Immune Imbalance: When women get pregnant, their immune function has to be suppressed to a certain extent to let the fetus grow inside their uterus. If a woman’s immune function is not balanced, their bodies will attack the fetus in the early stages of pregnancy, causing unsuccessful implantation or miscarriage or in some cases the fetus will simply stop growing with decreasing heartbeat. If you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system is out of balance and you are more likely to have these kinds of problems during pregnancy, but there are other causes of immune imbalance as well.
Luteal Phase Defect: The luteal phase is the time in a woman’s cycle between ovulation and menstruation. In pregnant women, during the luteal phase, the fertilized egg travels from the fallopian tube into the uterus for implantation. The luteal phase is normally 14 days long and on an average, can be anywhere from 10 to 17 days long. If your luteal phase lasts under 10 days, you have what is considered a luteal phase defect.
Maternal Age: As women get older, changes in their bodies generally make it more difficult for them to get pregnant as crucial body functions gradually deteriorate. Even if she decides to use the egg of a younger donor, declining hormone levels can make a successful pregnancy difficult. However, despite the obstacles, I have helped several patients in their early and mid-40s have healthy, full-term pregnancies.
Miscarriage: Miscarriages occur for a number of reasons but repetitive miscarriages indicate underlying issues that need to be addressed. Dr. Li Zheng uses her 26 years of experiencing working with women to talk through your past pregnancies and lifestyle to help you determine the possible causes for your miscarriages to come up with plans to help you have a healthy pregnancy.
Read Our Case Study: How Acupuncture helps in Miscarriage
PCOS: Why is PCOS becoming more and more common? Factors include higher insulin levels due to high sugar intake, birth control pills and hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system. By restoring balance to the hormones and nervous system, acupuncture can help women with PCOS get pregnant.
Premature Ovarian Failure: This condition is defined by the loss of a woman’s ovarian function before her menopause age and can be caused by a number of factors including viral infections, autoimmune diseases, and chemo/radiation. Acupuncture can improve ovarian function by increasing the production of certain hormones.
Adrenal Fatigue: The adrenal glands also can produce a small amount of estrogen and progesterone. If your adrenal gland is depleted, it can also influence your ability to conceive. Also, your blood pressure and blood sugar will fluctuate a lot and your ability to adjust to the environmental changes will diminish.
Acupuncture Treats Infertility
Infertility is related to imbalanced hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Stress prevents healthy ovulation and leads to spasms of the uterus and fallopian tube. Acupuncture helps restore the balance in the body and improve the flow of blood to the reproductive organs such as the ovaries, uterus and pituitary glands. If you are planning to do in vitro fertilization (IVF), one of the most popular treatments for infertility, acupuncture doubles the success rate of IVF. It helps restore the balance of the hormones and the immune system by bringing back the smooth flow of Qi or life energy. Acupuncture helps to reduce stress by stimulating the release of endorphins and serotonin in the brain.
The restoration of balance in the physical, emotional, and mental areas through acupuncture is what leads to the improved ability to conceive. However, if you are dealing with infertility and are looking at measures like IVF or IUI, then you should seek acupuncture 3 to 6 months before you are planning to start IVF or IUI so you can save money and time by just having one successful IVF. After the first pregnancy, you may be able to start conceiving naturally.