Chinese Medicine For Fertility

There is growing evidence surrounding the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in combating infertility. One of the most recent studies, published by the British Medical Journal in February 2008 looked at more than 1,300 couples receiving in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment and found that “acupuncture given as a complement to IVF increased the odds of achieving pregnancy.”

While modern medical science tends to view the body as a machine, traditional Chinese medicine considers the human condition to be more like a garden. This paradigm may help explain why Chinese medicine is so adept at improving fertility. A TCM practitioner will use a patient’s signs and symptoms to determine any underlying imbalances.

Does the patient have the required proportions of moisture (yin) or warmth (yang) to support reproductive health? Perhaps there is enough moisture, but it is not circulating as well as it should be, creating too much dampness and stagnation. Once any underlying imbalances have been determined, a TCM practitioner is likely to use a combination of therapies including acupuncture, herbal medicine, and diet therapy to help cultivate the conditions necessary to support conception and implantation of an embryo. Often, it is beneficial to treat both partners to ensure the best chance of success. Once pregnancy occurs, a good practitioner will continue to work with the expectant mother to ensure that the conditions are optimal for healthy development of the child. Just like in a garden, when all of the required factors are present and balanced, seeds take hold and new life flourishes.

If you are thinking of trying traditional Chinese medicine for fertility support, seek a practitioner who has certification and training in both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and who carries the designation of Licensed Acupuncturist (Lac).

— Eric Martin, M.S., Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine resident Bastyr Center for Natural Health

Non-profit, accredited Bastyr University (bastyr.edu) offers multiple degrees in the natural health sciences, and clinical training at Bastyr Center for Natural Health (bastyrcenter.org), the region’s largest natural medicine clinic.

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