Infertility is considered the loss of capacity to produce offspring in a woman after trying for two years, having a normal sexual life, and very important with a partner without fertility issues.
If you are reading this article, you are probably looking for an alternative to western fertility treatments due to the cost or to avoid the possible side effects.
"Chinese herbal medicine has a long and successful history of promoting fertility."
Origin of Gynecology in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional gynecology has a long history. Our earliest record is from the Shang dynasty (1500-1000 BC).
The first gynecological and obstetric medical institution was established during the Song dynasty (960-1279). The imperial college employed 300 instructors to staff nine departments, one of which was gynecology and obstetrics.
The first British school of Gynecology was founded in London in 1725, more than 500 years later.
Chinese Herbs for Fertility
Chinese Medicine treats the whole body, and its goal is to strengthen and balance the whole organism rather than fix one part of the body.
To promote fertility, first, we need to make a Chinese Medical diagnosis based on the balances and imbalances between the different organs within the body and then choose the best herbal formulas that correct imbalances.
In this way, we treat indirectly the reproductive organs with Chinese herbs, strengthening the whole organism, so in addition to having a healthy baby, the patient will feel stronger and healthier in many different ways, deeper sleep, better digestion, fewer aches, and pains.
Studies on TCM Fertility Treatment
It isn't easy to conduct modern studies on a particular Chinese herbal formula or on particular Chinese herbs because this medicine works in a different way than western medicine does.
Modern medicine has an allopathic point of view, while Easter medicine has a holistic point of view. At the same time, the first focuses on fighting symptoms and diseases, and the second focuses on promoting balance and strengthening the whole organism. Hence, your body starts working properly and solves its problems naturally.
This is why the efficacy shown in scientific studies is always inferior to what can be achieved by an experimented TCM practitioner in real life.
Nonetheless, many trials and scientific studies prove the efficacy of TCM and its fertility treatments: it regulates the menstrual cycle, strengthens the reproductive organs, and promotes women's health naturally.
TCM Treatments are Scientifically Proven!
Let's see here the most common infertility cases:
According to NIH, almost 25% of young women of reproductive age have fibroids, and by age 50, almost 80% of women have them.
14% of women with uterine fibroids are more likely to experience miscarriages, and almost 30% develop complications.
Uterine fibroids make it more difficult to achieve conception because they may block the uterus and the fallopian tubes.
Fibroids may alter a patient's menstrual cycle, causing profound bleeding, pelvic pain, abnormal bowel function, increased urinary frequency, and producing pain with intercourse.
Chi Shao, San Qi, Gui Zhi, or Tao Ren are the most common Chinese herbs to reduce fibroids.
Here we can see an study on 52,151 women done in Taiwan:
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome:
This is one of the most common hormonal imbalances.
Almost 5 million women have PCOS in the US.
Around 10% of women in reproductive age have PCOS, making it one of the most common causes of infertility.
Around 30% of all infertility cases are due to this hormonal imbalance.
It affects the reproductive system interfering with ovarian function.
The most common symptoms are:
excess body hair
One of the most famous herbal formulas for PCOS is Jia Wei Xiao Yao San, and the most commonly used single herb is Xiang Fu.
Here we can see one study done in Taiwan where the government covers Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM.
Investigation on the Use of Traditional Chinese Medicine for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in a Nationwide Prescription Database in Taiwan
Premature Ovarian Failure or Age-Related Ovarian Insufficiency:
Reproductive health is affected by the decrease of the ovaries in producing the hormone estrogen and the early diminished ovarian reserve of eggs.
This affects 1 % of women of reproductive age.
Your primary medical provider will diagnose with a physical exam and questions about your menstrual cycle.
Normal symptoms of Premature Ovarian Failure are:
Reduced sexual drive
Chronic Irregular periods
These symptoms can be confused with premature menopause, but they are not the same. With premature menopause, the woman's body loses the capacity to get pregnant; with POI (Premature Ovarian Insufficiency), one can conceive because one still has periods.
POI can appear due to side effects from surgeries, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy, but it also may happen naturally.
This is a normal reason to get an IVF treatment if the woman wants to get pregnant.
In Chinese Medicine, Premature Ovarian Failure is due to an imbalance of Kidney Yin & Yang, and formulas like Zou Gui Wan or Huyang Yangkun usually are used to improve fertility.
Beneficial Effects of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Premature Ovarian Failure
Your doctor will diagnose Unexplained Infertility if, after different tests and physical examinations, they can not find a reason to demonstrate your infertility. This diagnosis is made after also checking both the female and the male fertility capacity.
These patients usually are treated with intrauterine insemination, IVF procedure, or drug therapy from your fertility specialist.
Common causes of Unexplained infertility:
Bad sperm motility or low sperm count
Poor egg quality
Low quantity or poorly timed intercourse
Usually, these causes are due to stress, hormonal imbalance, or a lack of proper nutrition.
We use acupuncture, moxa, proper nutrition, and Chinese Herbal medicine to apply a fertility treatment with TCM.
Here we can see the results of one study done in Korea, which shows a 60% success rate in women with unexplained infertility.
Unexplained Infertility Treated with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine in Korea
In Vitro Fertilization:
In Vitro Fertility treatment requires a process with some steps:
a) first ovarian stimulation with injections of hormones (Gonadotropins),
b) egg retrieval: eggs are retrieved from your follicles
c) Sperm retrieval: this procedure is done only in men who can not ejaculate or if they do not ejaculate any sperm.
d)Fertilization is done in a petri dish, where a single sperm is injected into an egg.
e) and the last step is embryo transfer, where the fertilized egg is transferred to the uterus.
This cycle is done in 2 or 3 weeks; several cycles are usually needed to get pregnant.
The normal cost of IVF without insurance is between $15,000 and $30,000 per cycle, so it is highly recommended to first optimize natural fertility through Chinese Medicine, or to add Chinese Medicine to the IVF treatment.
Now we know that acupuncture and herbal treatment greatly enhance fertility treatments and increase the success rate of IVF.
Effects of Chinese herbs combined with in vitro fertilization and embryo transplantation on infertility: a clinical randomized controlled trial.
In the US, 6 to 8 million women have endometriosis.
It is a condition in which the tissue of the uterus grows outside the uterus, involving the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining in the pelvis.
Common symptoms of Endometriosis include:
pain during intercourse
heavy menstrual bleeding
lower back pain
To diagnose endometriosis, your doctor needs to do a laparoscopy, consisting of removing a sample of tissue outside the uterus and analyzing it.
In Chinese Medicine, endometriosis is produced by a lack of blood flow in the pelvic area.
To solve this problem and achieve natural fertility, TCM practitioners may use herbal formulas like Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan.
Here we can see a study that proves the efficacy of Chinese herbal compounds in reproductive health.
Traditional Chinese medicine prescription Gui Zhi Fu ling Pills in the treatment of endometriosis
Damage to the Fallopian Tubes:
Around 30% of women with an infertility diagnosis are due to damage to the fallopian tubes.
The most common symptom of damage to the fallopian tubes is a pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis, especially during intercourse or ovulation. Other symptoms include irregular menstrual periods, pain during urination, or pain in the right or left side of the abdomen.
Most women with damaged or blocked fallopian tubes do not experience any symptoms.
The fallopian tubes may be blocked due to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), Endometriosis, pasts Surgeries, Abortion, Tubal Ligation or Ectopic Pregnancy.
Your doctor would diagnose tubal blockage using a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test. The doctor fills the uterus with a solution containing dye to provide visual contrast, then uses an X-ray to examine the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Here we can see a study demonstrating the efficacy of TCM in combination with Western medicine to achieve fertility success.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8572586/ Liu, C., Qiu, H., Huang, R., Chai, H., Yuan, G., & Shan, S. (2020). Therapeutic Mechanism and Clinical Observation of Traditional Chinese Medicine Combined with Interventional Recanalization for Tubal Infertility. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: ECAM, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/2842250
Menstrual Cycle in Traditional Chinese Medicine
In TCM, women's reproductive organs are dominated by blood flow. Blood is the source of periods, fertility, conception, pregnancy, and childbirth.
According to the philosophy of TCM, males belong to Yang and women to Yin, so men's and women's physiologies are rooted in Blood, while males' roots are in Qi.
Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine:
The main factors that influence women's reproductive health are:
exterior pathogenic factors
The main steps in the Diagnosis are:
Health History Intake:
A TCM practitioner will ask you about relevant information like the quality of your menstrual cycle, pain, if you have any abnormal vaginal discharge, miscarriages, abortions, etc.
The most important and relevant diagnosis skill is Pulse Diagnosis. Only well-trained practitioners can perform it properly. Reading the radial artery pulse, we can accurately diagnose anything happening inside of the body.
The TCM doctor will gather additional diagnostic information by observing your ears, lips, and tongue.
Treatment with Chinese Herbal Medicine
A well-trained TCM practitioner will follow the next steps to perform a correct treatment plan and achieve fertility enhancement:
Proper identification of the Bian Bing or Chinese disease symptoms.
Proper identification of the Bian Zheng or Pattern.
Plan a correct treatment strategy.
Choose the appropriate treatment method, Chinese herbal medicines, and the correct acupuncture points to optimize fertility.
How to Achieve Natural Conception:
When a woman has difficulty conceiving, it usually means she is not healthy.
Female infertility is linked to overall health problems.
In TCM, if a woman has not had a healthy menstrual cycle, she will have difficulty achieving a natural conception.
A good TCM practitioner will first find out about systemic health issues.
In Eastern Medicine, menstruation and reproductive health are directly linked to the proper functions of the Kidney, Liver, Spleen, and Heart, with the channels Chong Mai, Ren Mai, Du Mai, and Dai Mai.
Once the whole body works in balance and harmony, fertility will happen naturally as a result of true health.
At Soul Acupuncture & Herbal, we encourage any couple with infertility issues to try Chinese Medicine, especially if they haven't succeeded through other fertility procedures.
In addition to achieving natural fertility, our patients improve their health in many other ways.
Chinese Traditional Medicine has been working for millions of couples for thousands of years.
So why not for you too?