Information & Treatment of Infertility in Vancouver Canada
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Can Treat InfertilityIntroduction to Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture: how it works...
Cultivate the soil before planting the seed (approach to fertility)
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that has enjoyed a 5OOO year history in China. It is based on the principle of balance which states: Health is a result of mind and body homeostasis; disease arises due to hyper-functioning or hypo-functioning of the body systems which in turn causes or is the result of too much or too little substance. The objective of TCM is to return the body to its homeostatic state in which neither the function nor the substance is out of balance. TCM views infertility as a state of both weakened body and pathogenesis of the body. Infertility, therefore, is a condition of systemic imbalance and aging.
Acupuncture is a therapy of inserting, manipulating, and retaining very fine needles in specific "points" of the body to solicit neurological, immunological, and endocrine responses. In Gynecology and male/female reproductive medicine, acupuncture has been utilized to manage pain such as in dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, mittelschmerz, premenstrual tension syndrome, breast pain, prostate pain and bladder pain. It is used to promote healing and hormonal regulation in prostatitis, chronic urinary bladder infection, uterine fibroids, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, anovulation, premature menopause, and menopausal symptoms. It is a safe and effective treatment. A selection of points will be utilized depending on the condition. In a given treatment, approximately 6 to 20 needles will be inserted and retained anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Most patients feel a sense of deep relaxation after treatment. Some patients can feel energized, relief of pain and other symptoms immediately after the treatment.
Acupuncture Efficacy Studies
In animal studies done by the Nanjing College of Agriculture has found that acupuncture is effective in inducing ovulation in cows. Results from clinical outcome studies in China have shown effectiveness of acupuncture in promoting ovulation in secondary amenorrhea conditions. A study of 45 infertile women suffering from oligomenorrhea or luteal insufficiency receiving auricular acupuncture, a type of acupuncture in the ear, achieved comparable pregnancy rate as to various hormonal treatments of bromocriptine, dexamethasone, levothyroxine, clomiphene, gonadotropins with combination of homologous inseminations and in vitro fertilization. Side effects were observed only with hormonal treatment and not in the acupuncture group. Acupuncture was shown to induce more physiological menstrual cycles than those induced by hormone therapy. There was also lower miscarriage rate in acupuncture patients compared to higher miscarriage rate with patients using clomiphene citrate and gonadotropins. Based on the data, though a small, selected population, acupuncture seems to potentially offer a viable alternative therapy for female infertility due to hormone disorders.
For certain conditions, Electroacupuncture treatment can be used. Electroacupuncture is the usage of electric impulse stimulation through the acupuncture needles in the affected areas and is utilized in more severe pain conditions as well as in anovulation and fallopian tubal blockages. It's also a pain-free treatment with minor vibration in the affected area.
As an additional therapy to the acupuncture treatment, moxibustion can be applied. Moxibustion is a procedure of burning a herb, Folium Artemisiae Vulgaris, commonly known as mugwort, to create heat and therapeutic result on the affected areas. It is used to treat certain types of pelvic pain and infertility. Deep warmth is usually felt after moxibustion in the applied area. Moxibustion increases circulation throughout the pelvic cavity and promotes healing and follicular development.
Herbal therapies are widely used for many conditions in Internal Medicine, Gynecology and Pediatrics. There are now over ten thousand herbal substances documented in the Materia Medica, published by the Ministry of Health of China. Majority of these substances are from plant source and have been found through years of experimentation and usage to be effective for specific conditions. Chinese herbs are usually used in combination of 8 to 20 herbs and are customarily formulated for an individual patient's specific condition. It is therefore common to have variations in herbal formulas from patient to patient in the clinical setting. The herbs can be dispensed to a patient in many forms. Raw herbs are mostly used in infertility conditions and taken in a brewed tea form. This herb tea form is stronger and quick-acting. The herbs can also be taken in many other forms such as powder, capsule, pill, and tincture which are some of the common forms. Herbs have many strengthening as well as potential therapeutic effects. Herbs contain many different varieties of nutrients and vitamins which are essential to the body. Studies from China have suggested treatment effectiveness in the areas of luteal phase defect, endometriosis, immunological infertility and male subfertility.
Working with Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be used solely or in conjunction with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and fertility drugs. Most patients use TCM as their primary treatment modalities in Asia. In the western clinical setting, it is not uncommon to see patients use TCM in conjunction with fertility drug and ART.
Benefits of TCM treatment
The following are some of the preliminary results from our clinic. We have found increased follicular development with some patients in an ART cycle with combination of TCM and fertility drugs especially in ones who were labeled as "poor responders". This can be seen in either an increased production of eggs in GIFT/IVF or increased fertilization rate in IVF. Patients who have thin endometrial lining during the usage of Clomiphene Citrate in an IUI cycle have found TCM helpful in reducing the thinning of the lining. We also have found some patients who have stopped ART due to symptoms of premature menopause as well as elevated FSH levels have "bounced" back with utilization of TCM. Most women with irregular menstruation or dysmenorrhea have found TCM to be helpful in managing symptoms as well as regulating the menstrual cycle. In the area of recurrent pregnancy loss, some patients were able to conceive again and were able to carry to term without any immunosuppressants. In male subfertility conditions, we have found some cases of improved semen analysis with the use of TCM for more than three months. Additional improvements can be seen in increased vitality and libido.
Architects will tell you that the foundation is the most important aspect of a building or a home. Much like everything in life, the key to successful conception is also a strong foundation. While it is important to live a healthy lifestyle once you have conceived, it is even more important to do so during the 3 months leading up to conception, since this period will determine the health of the sperm and egg that will eventually become your child.
There exists a Chinese parable about "cultivating the soil before you plant the seed." This parable with respect to infertility is one of the cornerstones of our approach. It can be better appreciated by using the following example.
You have a very health plant growing in a healthy pot of nutrient rich soil. You also have an unhealthy-sickly looking plant that is shriveling up in poor quality overly dried soil. You switch the two plants from their respective pots and you place the shriveled plant in the healthy, moist soil and you maintain the soil by watering and adding nutrients to it. You place the healthy plant in the dried up soil and you neglect it so the soil remains dry and lacking nutrients.
What do you think would happen to the two plants?
There is a good chance that the healthy plant will begin to shrivel and die in the poor soil and the sick plant will recover in the nutrient rich soil. We learn from this story that the health of the plant is dependent on the quality of the soil. At our clinic we concern ourselves with cultivating your soil. We do this by creating a healthy and optimum body environment in each couple, which optimizes the quality of the egg and sperm at conception, as well as providing a blood rich uterine lining favorable for implantation and for nourish a growing fetus for the full 9 months.
In contrast, Traditional Chinese Medicine has, over the centuries, mapped out the subtle networks and interrelationships that reveal our bodies to be dynamic cellular ecosystems.
By using a systems approach to health care, early Oriental practitioners discovered Acupuncture point. They found that upon stimulating these points a cascade of positive changes occur in the body.
Computer imaging of the brain during an acupuncture treatment shows dynamic activity occuring in many regions and structures within the brain. This modern research has shown that stimulating an Acupuncture point causes an increase in the production of endorphins and simultaneously activates the immune and endocrine systems.
Your acupuncturist can choose the most effective treatment plan to help you obtain your desired health outcome. Acupuncture point will be chosen to relieve pain and stress, and to increase vitality.
Each acupuncturist uses fine high grade surgical steel needles to stimulate the Acupuncture point on your body. These pre-sterilized and disposable needles are used ‘only once’.
Traditional Chinese Medicine includes many modalities. Ask your practitioner about alternatives to needles.
Millions of patients have enjoyed the benefits of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. They report the elimination or reduction of pain, and increase in function, and a greater sense of vitality and well-being.
Acupuncture point treatment has evolved over thousands of years. It is called empirical science when Acupuncture point have been systematically tried and observed for functions and treatment efficacy. This art was started by the use of what the Chinese call ‘ashi’ points, or points where there is pain. Bones, sharpened stones, or bamboo were inserted into these ‘ashi Acupuncture point’ and it was found to give relief. Over the next few centuries, Qigong practitioners, doctors, and shamans began to see and map out the system of energetic meridians that course throughout our body. To date this is still being refined. Acupuncture point are specific points on the body which give particular access to this energetic system, performing different functions depending on their locations and the patterns of disease disharmony involved.
The needles are usually retained in the body for 10 minutes to one hour. While the patient is relaxed, the Acupuncture practitioner may choose to manipulate particular needles at particular Acupuncture point to give desired effects. This action is to either tonify, nourish, or strengthen, or conversely, to drain or subdue.
Electrical stimulation is also sometimes indicated. This is performed by placing small alligator clips onto the needles and passing a very mild battery generated electrical current through the it.
It should be known that many conditions can take many months of treatments to obtain desired results. For instance, Chronic low back pain that has been nagging someone for 10 years may see some very quick results, although, any substantial lasting effects would actually take months or even years of regular treatments. The acupuncture practitioner will find out all they can about the particular condition and judge how frequent and how long treatment is indicated according to the severity and duration.
The sensations people claim to receive from Acupuncture point treatment are: dull aching pain, tingling sensation at the points or along the course of a meridian, mild electrical shock, heaviness of the treated limb(s), and many more that get quite original to the individuals. Although, if pain seems to persist and is unbearable, inform your acupuncturist, he may extract the particular needle or back it off until the pain subsides.
As with any medical field, the patient should use caution and instinct in carefully choosing their practitioner. It should be someone they feel very comfortable with so a trusting relationship may be formed. The practitioner themselves should be healthy, as they are coming in very intimate contact with your subtle inner energies.
Medicinal Chinese herbs have been used for centuries to cure diseases and alleviate discomfort due to many different disorders. The first herbal classic written in china was published in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) called the Agriculture Emperors Materia Medica. The first plants discovered and used were usually for digestive system disorders (i.e. Da Huang ) and slowly as more herbs were discovered the herbs became more useful for an increasing number of ailments and herbal tonics were created.
Every herb has its own properties which include its energy, its flavor, its movement and its related meridians to which it connects too.
The for types of energies are cold, cool, warm and hot. Usually cold or cool herbs will treat fever, thirst, sore throat and general heat diseases. Hot or warm herbs will treat cold sensation in the limbs, cold pain and general cold diseases.
The five flavors or herbs are pungent, sweet, sour, salty and bitter.
Pungent herbs are generally used to induce perspiration and promote circulation of both blood and Qi. These herbs are usually used for superficial disorders. Sweet Herbs have 3 main functions; nourishing deficiency, harmonizing other herbs or reduce toxicity, relieve pain and slow the progression of acute diseases. Sour Herbs also have 3 functions; constrict, obstruct and solidify. These herbs are good to stop perspiration, stop diarrhea, stop seminal emission and stop leucorrhea. Salty herbs soften hardness, lubricate intestines and drain downward. These herbs are used to treat hard stool with constipation or hard swellings as in diseases like goiter. Bitter herbs induce bowel movements, reduce fevers and hot sensations, re direct rebellious Qi, dry dampness and clear heat. They can also nourish the kidneys and are used to treat damp diseases.
After a herb is absorbed by a patient it can move in 4 different directions; upward towards the head, downward towards the lower extremities, inward toward the zang-fu organs or outward towards the superficial regions of the body. Upward movement herbs are used for falling symptoms like prolapsed organs. Downward moving herbs are used to push down up surging symptoms like coughing and vomiting. Outward moving herbs are used to induce perspiration and treat superficial symptoms that are moving towards the interior of the body. Inward movement of herbs induce bowel movements and promote digestion.
Each herb will have a corresponding meridian or meridians to which it will correspond to. For example; Jie Geng corresponds to the lungs and can be used for asthma or cough. Rib pain and sore eyes relate to the liver so as Gou Teng has an affinity for the liver meridian it can be used for the treatment of liver diseases.
Treatment of Infertility & IVF Support with Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Vancouver
Dr. Spence Pentland, Dr. TCM, R.Ac, FABORM
Dr. Spence Pentland is a provincially licenced Doctor with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners and Acupuncturists of BC,
& a Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (click on letter credentials for more info).
His clinical practice in Vancouver has focused on the treatment of men's and women's reproductive health issues since 2004,
helping hundreds realize their dream of having happy healthy families.
Click below to learn more about
1. Dr. Spence Pentland's Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Treatment of Infertility in Vancouver
2. The IVF Acupuncture Group - a team of doctors specializing in providing quality, evidence-based acupuncture services for patients undergoing IVF in Greater Vancouver
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