Though many people take their fertility for granted, a host of things can get in the way of the optimal functioning of the reproductive system. Western medicine understands and treats some but by no means all of them. Traditional Chinese medicine has been successfully supporting fertility for at least two thousand years. It can get to the bottom of fertility issues that Western medicine has no explanation or treatment for, as well as those it understands and treats.
A significant percentage of women with “unexplained infertility” could get pregnant naturally using just the sort of help we offer. If conception is difficult, then an underlying physiological reason is either preventing conception or not allowing the body to hold a pregnancy.
The vast majority of so-called infertility cases can be resolved with changes to the environment. These are changes in diet or lifestyle, stress reduction, massage, and the use of herbs and energy medicine such as acupuncture — all things we either offer or can advise you on. (Sometimes, though, the problem is beyond environmental control, as when certain genetics contribute to miscarriages, or a certain HLA combination makes pregnancy difficult.)
At least 25% of women wanting to have a child seem to have trouble getting pregnant, and the causes can be many. Male factor can be just as likely a cause as female factor. For this reason, when you come to us, you will have an initial consult with George Mandler, Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine, to develop a fertility plan.
For that initial intake you will bring in any fertility lab tests and medical records for the past couple of years and both partners will fill out the intake forms. We will discuss and evaluate the health of both partners and then plan how best to move forward with treatments.
If you are going through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) protocols we will work with you and your reproductive endocrinologist. Acupuncture and massage can not only help increase the chances of a live birth but will also minimize the side effects of fertility medication.
If you are a woman using a sperm donor or already have frozen embryos (so that male factor is not an issue), we can see you alone for the initial evaluation. But if you would like to bring your partner we encourage that support.
Our initial consult is a time to understand your personal fertility situation. Everyone is different and we treat each person individually.
Treating the Root of Infertility
These days fertility MDs commonly lead couples having difficulty conceiving directly to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IVF. This jump to technology can leave unaddressed important issues such as:
- Health imbalances. Often some sort of unaddressed health imbalance is preventing a successful pregnancy. These imbalances run the gamut from uncontrolled stress to immune dysregulation, hormonal imbalances, and nutritional factors (even if the person is taking a multi-vitamin).
- Male causes of infertility. Often in cases of infertility, one finds the woman in the relationship rushing to the clinic at 7 a.m. before going to her job, and taking on most of the work and responsibility herself. Statistics show, however, that infertility is just as likely to be male factor as it is female factor. In our opinion Western medicine often pays too little attention to male factor. The male factor usually needs much closer scrutiny, as a normal semen analysis does not really reveal much about a man’s ability to conceive.
- Healthy children start with healthy parents. Whatever the underlying physiological issues are, they can often be addressed with lifestyle changes, acupuncture, herbs, abdominal massage, and functional nutrition. Once we guide your body into better balance, you will feel much healthier in addition to having a healthier baby. Research studies show the health of a baby begins in utero — and Chinese medicine has 2,000 years of writings on prenatal essence 精.
Bringing the body into a healthier, happier state underlines another reason we advocate trying the functional health approach prior to starting procedures such as IVF: It has been shown that individualized whole body medicine increases live-birth rates significantly compared to IVF alone.
Chinese medicine, acupuncture and functional medicine aim to treat the root causes of infertility itself. Though the data is controversial, several studies show a slightly higher rate of birth defects in IVF (1.5% vs 1%). This leads some to wonder whether the higher rate is due mostly to the fact that the ART procedures don’t address the root cause of the infertility, leaving the body inadequately prepared for an optimally healthy pregnancy. Whatever the truth is here, it’s just another reason to see how your body responds to complementary health options before jumping into technological approaches.
Examine Your Options
Even if you have been told you are of advanced maternal age or have a diminished ovarian reserve, we can often help improve your chances. Functional nutrition, herbs, acupuncture, and bodywork can treat the imbalances in the body, thus getting at the root cause of infertility. We want to create healthy parents so they can create healthy babies. These holistic approaches not only allow couples to conceive, but also allow the mother to have a healthier pregnancy and postpartum period.
If you have any questions, call our office at 978-461-2001 (or state on your contact form that you would like to meet us) and we will be happy to meet with you for a free 15-minute fertility consultation.
In July 2007 I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and my gynecologist recommended hormonal treatment. As I didn’t feel ready to go that way, my husband and I decided I should try acupuncture.
In November 2007, I began acupuncture treatment with George Mandler. For 2½ months I had weekly appointments that were not only relaxing and enjoyable but also helped me get back into a good balance. After having had irregular periods for almost a year, they came back — the combination of the acupuncture and George’s knowledgeable advice on dietary changes worked tremendously. I appreciated his calm and reflective approach to Eastern medicine and Western science, as well as the peaceful atmosphere in the clinic.
I became pregnant in February 2008 and am feeling fantastic.
Margaret D., Cambridge, MA