What is female infertility and subfertility?
Female infertility is defined as the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting woman to achieve pregnancy in one year. The state of subfertility refers to the inability of a woman to successfully carry a pregnancy to a live birth.
What are the factors causing female infertility and subfertility?
There are many factors which may cause infertility or subfertility in a woman. Advanced maternal age is one common cause of infertility in modern women. Ageing can be further complicated with conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis. Apart from being factors in causing infertility and subfertility, these conditions are often the cause of an irregular menstruation cycle, heavy menses flow and painful periods.
How can TCM and CHM treat infertility and aid conception?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which includes the use of acupuncture for fertility and Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has rich histories in treating gynaecological diseases including infertility since ancient times. In the modern era, acupuncture is performed by inserting ultra-thin, sterile needles into specific acupuncture points on the body. Stimulation of these acupuncture points regulates and brings balance to the way in which the body functions and thus improves natural fertility. In recent years, several studies have examined the mechanism of acupuncture, how it improves fertility and enhances assisted reproductive technologies (ART) procedures such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intra-uterine insemination (IUI). These studies have shown that the pregnancy rate of the patients undergoing acupuncture treatment concurrent with ART is higher than those of patients who did not receive acupuncture and relied on ART alone.
Along with advances in technology, CHM is currently available in water-soluble powder convenient to prepare. A recent study suggested that the odds of achieving pregnancy with Chinese herbal medicine is twice greater than with standard Western Medical drug treatments alone or IVF over a 4-month period.
What are the ways in which TCM and CHM aid conception?
As each individual is unique, the acupuncture points and CHM prescribed are chosen after a detailed TCM assessment. The main objectives of the TCM treatment are to boost fertility through:
- Regulating the quality of the menstrual cycle (improve colour, consistency and flow of blood; prevent or reduce associated symptoms such as abdominal cramps, headaches, etc).
- Improving ovarian function by allowing the development of better quality eggs and healthy embryos.
- Enhancing the thickness of the uterine lining and thus promoting implantation of the embryo.
- Relaxing the body and relieving stress for women experiencing infertility or those undergoing reproductive therapy.
Whether it is for aiding natural conception or to enhance assisted reproductive technology procedures, it is recommended that the patient receive the prescribed TCM treatment 6 months prior to the ART procedures.