If you do have difficulty getting pregnant, acupuncture and herbal medicine is a great alternative. Complementary medicine can help you today more than ever before. Dr. Zhou believes that women should always try the simplest, safest, and the most natural approach first, and if possible avoid complicated and often stressful and expensive intrusive medical procedures. As a Traditional Chinese Medical Doctor with extensive and successful experience in treating infertility, Dr. Zhou understands a great deal about her patients’ desires, aspirations, and frustrations. At a recent meeting of the Dallas Fertility Nurses Society at Medical Center of Plano, Dr. Zhou was honored to be the first oriental medical doctor and acupuncturist invited by the group to give a keynote address on “Acupuncture and Infertility.” She answers many of the questions and concerns as follows:
What does infertility treatment include?
TCM for infertility includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs, diet, exercise and life style approach.
How does TCM help infertility?
Acupuncture stimulates the flow of intrinsic energy in the body, enhances the blood circulation to the pelvic region and benefits vital organ function. Chinese herbal formulas tonify (restore) kidney energy and nourish the deeper vital essence to help the body produce a healthy ovum. In addition, proper exercise, correct diet and a healthy life style all promote the flow of specific meridians and remove existing inner psychological frustration restoring your reproductive health, which helps you not only to conceive, but also to deliver a healthy, full term baby.
What is the procedure of the treatment?
The initial phase of treatment involves regulating the menstrual cycle by clearing the congestion in the pelvic cavity, and nourishing the deeper vitality. This phase typically takes 3 to 6 months or more depending on the nature of complaint, trauma, toxin from medication, genetic influences, lifetime habits and illnesses. Within this phase, most women will become fertile and open for conception. You will also benefit from regularity of periods, bright red blood flow without clots, minimal or no menstrual cramping and breast tenderness, better emotional balance, enriching sleep, warm hands and feet, and much more energy. Once conception occurs, second phase treatment increases the probability of a full term pregnancy and decreases the possibility of miscarriage.
Who will be appropriate candidates for acupuncture and herbal medicine?
Women with unexplained infertility or hormonal imbalances, such as menstrual irregularities, PMS, high FSH level, poor aging egg quality, PCOS, luteal phase defects, thin lining, anovulation, difficult implantation, and frequent miscarriage, would be encouraged to seek relief from Acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The most frequent cause of unexplained infertility or hormonal imbalance is energy stagnation, which affects blood flow in the pelvic area. Many years of emotional stress, depression, frustration, overwork, and improper diet and lifestyle often play a major role in energy congestion.
How does acupuncture support IVF?
Acupuncture can strengthen and balance one’s general health, affect the autonomic nervous system, which is involved in the control of muscles and glands, and could therefore relax the uterus, increase the uterine blood flow and make the lining of the uterus more receptive to receiving an embryo. German researchers have increased success rates by almost 50% in women having IVF (Fertility and Sterility, April 2002 issue). It means more hope, fewer cycles, and a shorter wait for what you most desire: a beautiful, healthy baby.
What changes do I expect during IVF?
Your FSH levels may be normalized, and the uterine lining increased in thickness. Since acupuncture enhances the circulation of blood and energy throughout the body, you will have more energy; better sleep patterns and emotional balance. It is not uncommon for patients to feel more in control and experience a greater sense of peace. Pregnancy becomes easier to achieve and postpartum recuperation happens faster. It is great integration of Ancient and Western medicine.
How many acupuncture treatments do I need during the IVF?
We recommend patients have acupuncture treatment once a week, three months before the IVF continuing until the embryo transfer.
Dr. Zhou offers free initial consultations. During the first visit, she will take a detailed medical history related to infertility; review the details of your menstrual cycle and blood flow during menstruation; gain a thorough understanding of your goals; and examine your whole system through tongue, pulse and palpation. During this process, Dr. Zhou often discovers many possible factors that can influence both conception and pregnancy, problems that have not yet shown up as a symptom, and/or subtle signs of imbalance that indicate future illness. She puts all these composites together and provides you with a clear personalized assessment and optimal treatment plan.
Having many years experience in the treatment of women’s health issues, Dr. Zhou fully recognizes the relationship between a variety of stressful emotions and infertility. She truly believes that negative emotions play a major role in causing hormonal imbalances and other related problems associated with female reproduction, including anovulation, menstrual irregularities, PMS, and endometriosis (see endometriosis). Indeed, one of the main focuses of her treatment of infertility is to balance mind and body, help her patients reclaim their lives and spirits, and lead them to improve their overall health and well-being (see Infertility & Stress).
In addition to infertility treatment, Dr. Zhou regularly teaches her patients how to chart their temperature, monitor the texture of cervical secretions and identify the timing of ovulation, so that they can recognize their own patterns, have a better chance of predicting their most fertile periods and thereby helping them to conceive. Dr. Zhou encourages her patients to pay special attention to their menstrual cycles in order to help them determine their own fertility profile. She believes the method of charting basal body temperature and cervical fluid indications, to not only be a natural, scientifically validated aid to conception, but one which can also promote excellent overall gynecological health.
Dr. Zhou’s goal is to offer new hope through natural, holistic fertility treatment and gynecological care, bringing experience and compassion to your quest to conceive - helping your dream become a reality.