Claire Nasir had undergone several IVF treatments before looking to acupuncture as a complementary therapy. The result speaks for itself.
Many women are told that they have what is referred to as "unexplained infertility". Chinese diagnosis can often reveal imbalances in the internal climate that inhibit conception and treatment can often correct these, resulting in a natural conception. I offer treatment for both men and women.
Acupuncture is a tremendous support for couples choosing assisted conception, as many recent studies have proven. It is an excellent way to help to cope with the often stressful procedures, and to help balance any side effects of the drug therapy. Acupuncture can greatly improve the chances for a successful conception.
I treat all aspects of gynaecological disharmony, from early teens through to menopause.
Conceiving a baby is something that many of us take for granted, yet as a couple, we have on average, only about a 20% chance of conceiving each month. The figure may surprise those who are able to have children easily. It will not surprise the 1 in 6 couples who find they do not conceive easily. About 85-90% of couples with normal fertility conceive within the first year of trying, 95% within 2 years. So if you have been trying unsuccessfully for just a few months, there is probably no need to worry.
Why can it be difficult to become pregnant?
In order for conception to occur several things need to happen. The woman must be ovulating (releasing a healthy egg from her ovary) each month. The egg must travel into her fallopian tube to meet and be fertilised by the healthy sperm which have been ejaculated into the woman’s vagina and travelled up through her womb in to the tube. Then the fertilised egg must travel down to the womb and attach itself to one of the walls. Difficulties can arise at any stage in the process. There may be problems with the quality of the egg or the sperm, or a blockage in either the man or woman’s reproductive tract which can prevent a pregnancy occurring. Problems arise equally in men and women and for some, no medical explanation can be found.
Acupuncture for fertility is an excellent way to help enhance your diagnosis, to understand more fully the reasons why you are having difficulty conceiving. Gynaecology is one of the best understood aspects of Chinese medicine; it has been studied and practiced for thousands of years. The Chinese diagnosis offers a sophisticated understanding of the internal climate of the gynaecological organs as well as offering an excellent ability to diagnose how the other systems of the body are behaving and whether that may be having a detrimental impact on the reproductive system. In Chinese medicine all systems are related and nothing is discounted as belonging to 'another department'. Acupuncture is always ultimately about balance. When one aspect of the whole system is in distress then it can easily have a knock on effect elsewhere. The real benefit to a Chinese diagnosis is to help understand the balance within the whole.
Acupuncture for fertility will help to regulate the menstrual cycle and to smooth out any untoward symptoms that may accompany the period such as PMT, scanty or excessive bleeds, irregular cycles, mid cycle or intramenstrual bleeds, headaches, cramping, back ache, etc. etc. Regulating the function of the menstruation will help to enhance the receptivity of the uterus, to enhance the quality of the ovum (eggs waiting to ovulate) and it will definitely make you feel better! Acupuncture is an excellent support for women who have endometriosis, polycystic ovaries PCOS and fibroids. For more information see Womens Health.
Stresses and Strains
It is the body's natural instinct to conceive. Next to the need for water and for food and shelter, conception is one of our foremost survival instincts. If the body does not believe that it has the where-with-all to sustain a full term pregnancy, it will not conceive. Conception will occur when there is enough balance between the emotional, hormonal and physical selves. This is the great thing that acupuncture has to offer; that to bring balance on all levels reduces stress. When the body and mind are less stressed there is much greater opportunity to turn the energies toward conception. This applies to both natural and assisted conception.
Unexplained infertility is the phrase used when a couple have had the standard investigations, usually including blood tests, sperm analysis, and possibly an ultrasound examination of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries (there may also be a salpinhysteroscopy, when dye is injected through the fallopian tubes to ensure that they are clear); if all these tests results are normal the diagnosis is 'unexplained'.
Secondary infertility is when couples have difficulty conceiving again after a successful first pregnancy. Infertility affects approximately 15% of the population and secondary infertility approximately 5%. Secondary infertility can be defined as infertility in a couple who have already had at least one pregnancy between them, whether that is a pregnancy resulting in the birth of a baby or a pregnancy that has miscarried, an ectopic pregnancy, or a pregnancy that has been terminated.
Infertility is recognized as a significant illness with a significant impact on the wellbeing of both men and women. Secondary infertility is just as debilitating, even when the couple already has between them a healthy child or children.
• Every year in Great Britain 27,000 couples receive infertility treatment; 1 in 6 is successful. Infertility now affects 1 in 6 couples, and the number seeking help has risen by 55% in the last 5 years.
• 1 in 80 children born today were conceived as a result of IVF.
• IVF is approximately 30% successful.
‘Do you have any idea at all the pain infertility causes? What cruelty leads us to label it as a lifestyle choice?
Acupuncture has been shown to increase chances of success with IVF by up to 65%.
Acupuncture can help:
• Improve gamete quality
• Improve embryo quality
• Improve quality of endometrium
• Reduce stress of participants
• Reduce unwanted effects of drugs
• Regulate hormones
• Reduce chance of miscarriage
• Strengthen immune system
Acupuncture support during any kind of assisted treatment can be very beneficial, on both the physical level and the emotional level. Assisted treatment can be very stressful, which in itself can inhibit a successful outcome. Acupuncture works on many levels, helping to calm the whole system and creating a much more receptive space for conception. It greatly increases blood flow to the uterus and it has a well understood neurological effect, calming to the nervous system. It is also understood to greatly relax uterine muscles which has a beneficial effect during any transfer treatment.
Some assisted conception protocols may involve some kind of hormonal drug therapy, used to control the body's hormone levels to try and enhance conception. Some women may find the hormone therapy can impact on their well being with side affects that may make them feel uncomfortable. Acupuncture is excellent for helping the system to acclimatise to the drug therapy, in many ways helping women to feel more comfortable during their assisted cycles.
Many couples find the whole process of an assisted conception quite stressful. There may be considerable running around, back and forth from their fertility unit for various tests and scans throughout the procedure, which can take up to 6 weeks. Acupuncture during this time can be very calming, many women comment on how well it helps them to cope with the strains of keeping up the treatment.
It is recommended that both partners consider the benefits of acupuncture support in the lead up to an assisted protocol, to enhance the health of the sperm and eggs, and to promote the most receptive environment for conception.
Testimonial for Fertility treatment
My husband and I had been trying to conceive for over 2 years with no success, we had also had 2 IUI treatments with no success. IVF was a very daunting prospect and I felt that I needed all the help I could get.
I had read of the success of acupuncture in IVF and thought that I had nothing to lose. I had never had acupuncture before or know anyone who had, therefore I went into the treatment with an open mind.
The first time I meet with Anita I was at instant ease. Her gentle and caring manner helped me to relax and feel cared for.
I had a couple of treatments before I began my injections (I was on the long protocol), and then had weekly sessions. At the start of each session we took some time to discuss how I had been since the last session and any new symptoms I was experiencing. My symptoms from the drug therapies were not extreme compared to some stories you hear, but each week Anita tailored my treatment to help me carry on.
After each treatment I always felt totally relaxed and ready to take on whatever the week ahead threw at me. The sessions provided me with a sanctuary. As importantly they provided me with the TLC I felt I needed. The fertility clinic nurses try their best to comfort and support, but they are still under pressure to get through patients and sometimes aren’t able to spend the time with you that you need.
I saw Anita on the day of our embryo transfer. Surprisingly to me I was so nervous before we went to the clinic, I was very stressed and hadn’t slept well. The session that Anita performed on me that morning was amazing – I literally floated out! After transfer I had the follow up session which ensured I stayed that way. On arriving home that afternoon after everything was done I slept for hours.
The wait for results was not easy, and I was convinced that the treatment had not been a success.
I was and still am shocked by the fact that we got a positive result – I never believed that we would be lucky first time. I had to be the most negative IVF patient on the planet, but I know that the acupuncture definitely played a part- I wished I had tried it earlier.
I can highly recommend Anita to anyone facing the IVF ‘nightmare’, the cost is irrelevant to the benefits you receive and the end products speak for themselves.
With our heart felt thanks
Here are video testimonials from couples who had difficulty conceiving and turned to acupuncture.
Acupuncture can greatly improve a woman’s chance of staying pregnant. The state of the woman’s qi (energy), the quality of the sperm and ovum, and the subsequent embryo will determine whether or not the pregnancy goes to term, resulting in a live healthy baby.
Miscarriage can be a devastating experience, both physically and emotionally. Chinese medicine likens miscarriage to childbirth energetically. Miscarriage is always a loss, but an invisible loss to the rest of the world. The woman has lost a potential child, and her own potential as a mother.
10-25%pregnancies will miscarry, 75% are due to implantation failure.
Acupuncture treatment is given weekly from embryo transfer until week 12, much more frequently if symptoms arise.
The knots of not getting pregnant
There are many emotions of infertility.
anxiety, hope, frustration, hope, anger,
sadness, loneliness, hope, isolation,
depression, hope, fear, grief,
hope, fear, anxiety, grief,
anger, frustration, fear,
Acupuncture can support you whether you decide you want to continue and try again, as well as if you decide that you no longer want to try and just want to get on with your life. Acupuncture will help you on all levels: body, mind and spirit and help you move forward.
How common is it?
• Up to 15% of couples are infertile (no pregnancy after 12 months).
• In 30-40% of couple infertility the pathology is found in the man alone.
• In another 20% to 30% both the man and the woman are subfertile.
• Up to 60% of male infertility is unexplained.
• Therefore: Male subfertility may be a factor in 50% to 70% of cases of couple infertility and it is thought this figure is rising.
Falling Sperm Counts
• Significant decline in sperm density in the USA (1.5% a year) and Europe / Australia (3% a year) between 1938 and 1990.
• Aberdeen study 1989 -2002 (13 years) of 7,500 men with 20 million + sperm per ml). Average sperm count fell from 87m sperm to 62m = Decline of 29%.
• The number of men seeking treatment for fertility problems in Merseyside and Cheshire has increased by nearly 70% in the past four years.
• ICSI – intracytoplasmic sperm injection – now represents 60% of the ICSI/IVF treatment carried out at the Hewitt Centre at the Liverpool Women’s hospital, the third highest proportion at NHS clinics in the country. Overall 40% of infertility problems with a known cause in the North East of the UK are due to disorders in male fertility.
The average male sperm count has dropped by 45% since 1940. The WHO (World Health Organisation ) has dropped the 'normal' parameters by 50% in the last 20 years to accommodate these falling levels. This trend means that a 30 year old man in 2005 might have a sperm count of 32 million per ml - about one-quarter of the count of the average male born in 1925.
Recent studies have shown that men's fertility does decrease as they age, and that they have a biological clock that starts ticking in their 30's. This study has shown that the older a man is, the longer it is likely to take his partner to conceive irrespective of her age. When considering the inability to conceive it is equally important for men to address this as women.
Smoking has the worst affect on sperm, closely followed by alcohol, cannabis and being overweight. All of these damage the sperm and reduce fertility. Stress, overwork, environmental pollutants such as oestogens in the water, insecticides, fungicides, phthalates (anti androgens leached from plastics) are all factors that are considered to contribute to this rising phenomena of increased male sub fertility.
Male fertility is a growing issue in this society. This is a growing health crisis among men.
Acupuncture for male sub fertility is understood to improve the morphology (shape and structure) and the motility (how they move) of sperm as well as increasing sperm count. Acupuncture can help to increase the health of the sperm enormously. Even when sperm counts are 'normal' it is well worth considering this extra support to make the most of the sperm that are there.
I am often concerned that I am only treating half of the equation when women come to see me. If a couple is having difficulty conceiving then it is important that both parties take appropriate care to improve the health of the sperm and eggs. This is especially important when a couple have decided to use assisted conception.
Research suggests acupuncture can effect sperm:
• Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility
Jian Pei, Erwin Strehler, Ulrich Noss, Markus Abt, Paola Piomboni, Baccio Baccetti and Karl Sterzik. Fertility and Sterility, vol 84, issue 1, July 2005, pp141-147).
This study showed that acupuncture can improve sperm quality.
• Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment on patients with semen abnormalities
Gurfinkel E, Cedenho AP, Yamamura Y, Strugi M. (Asian) Androl. 2003 Dec;5(4):345-8)
This study showed that men receiving acupuncture had significant increases in the percentage of normal-form sperm compared to a control group.
• Does acupuncture treatment affect sperm density in males with very low sperm count? A pilot study
Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Lederman H, Bartoov B. (Andrologia. 2000 Jan;32(1):31-9.)
This study showed that acupuncture can increase both sperm quality and quantity.
• Influence of acupuncture on idiopathic male infertility in assisted reproductive technology.
J Huanzhong Iniv Sci Technolog Med Sci 2002;22(3):228-30.
This study showed that acupuncture can improve sperm quality and fertilisation rates in assisted reproductive technology.
• Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from subfertility related to low sperm quality
Arch Androl. 1997 Sep-Oct;39(2):155-61.)
Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Zabludovsky N, Bartoov B.
This study showed that patients exhibiting a low fertility potential due to reduced sperm activity may benefit from acupuncture treatment.
Male gynaecological issues that acupuncture treatment is effective for include:
• Male sub fertility
• Erectile dysfunction
• Chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS) (Chronic prostatitis)
• Inflammation of the prostate
• Urinary incontinence
• Prostate cancer