Fertility Conditions

Advanced Maternal Age

If you are trying to conceive you are probably aware of the barrage of messages concerning the “age” factor. It is true that the quantity and quality of a woman’s eggs diminishes with age. A woman is defined as being of Advanced Maternal Age if she is over the age of 35 at the time of the birth of her child. It generally presents with higher FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) levels, lower AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) levels and an overall reduction in ovarian reserve (remaining egg supply) and egg quality. Don’t be worried though if you have never heard of these levels or if your doctor has not checked them. Women of advanced maternal age generally have lower pregnancy rates and higher miscarriage rates but that doesn’t have to be the case for you.

The ovaries respond each month to FSH produced by the pituitary gland by producing a mature egg to be released during ovulation around the middle of a women’s cycle. As a woman ages, the ovaries become less sensitive to the FSH, and consequently, the body increases production to try and encourage a follicle to mature. This is why a higher FSH is associated with lowered ovarian reserve. In addition, AMH is a hormone produced by the antral, or immature, follicles. Generally, the higher the AMH level, the more follicles a woman has in waiting each month. As a woman ages, this level declines with the reduction in the number of these follicles.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Many women can and do give birth to healthy babies when they are over the age of 35, but for those who are having difficulty, we can help! Acupuncture primarily helps by improving blood flow to the ovaries. This increase in blood flow helps to increase the amount of FSH being delivered to the ovaries. The result is better egg quality, improved ovulation and an increase in pregnancy rates. Many of our patients experience a reduction in FSH levels with regular treatment.

With Advanced Maternal Age, there is an increased risk of miscarriage. Acupuncture can help to reduce the chance of miscarriage by gently improving blood flow to the uterus, and reducing stress and anxiety. An additional benefit is that it helps you to feel proactive and empowered in the knowledge that you are doing everything possible to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Acupuncture Treatment Protocol:

While treatment recommendations are specific for each patient, a general guideline is a weekly treatment around days 7, 14, and 21 of your menstrual cycle.

Day 7 Treatment: Assists with egg development, maturation and quality by improving blood flow to the ovaries. Helps to improve the overall health and thickness of the endometrial lining.

Day 14 Treatment: Helps to facilitate ovulation and egg fertilization.

Day 21 Treatment: Increases blood flow to the uterus to assist with embryo implantation and maturation. It helps to ease the stress and anxiety of the waiting period.

While treatment on this schedule works for many of our patients, we understand that each woman’s cycle is unique. Many of our patients have irregular cycles or specific conditions which require a modification of this protocol. During your first appointment, a protocol will be developed for you and adjusted as needed throughout the cycle.

Elevated FSH

If you are trying to conceive you are probably aware of the barrage of messages concerning the “age” factor. It is true that the quantity and quality of a woman’s eggs diminishes with age. A woman is defined as being of Advanced Maternal Age if she is over the age of 35 at the time of the birth of her child. It generally presents with higher FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) levels, lower AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) levels and an overall reduction in ovarian reserve (remaining egg supply) and egg quality. Don’t be worried though if you have never heard of these levels or if your doctor has not checked them. Women of advanced maternal age generally have lower pregnancy rates and higher miscarriage rates but that doesn’t have to be the case for you.

The ovaries respond each month to FSH produced by the pituitary gland by producing a mature egg to be released during ovulation around the middle of a women’s cycle. As a woman ages, the ovaries become less sensitive to the FSH, and consequently, the body increases production to try and encourage a follicle to mature. This is why a higher FSH is associated with lowered ovarian reserve. In addition, AMH is a hormone produced by the antral, or immature, follicles. Generally, the higher the AMH level, the more follicles a woman has in waiting each month. As a woman ages, this level declines with the reduction in the number of these follicles.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

The good news is that acupuncture can be helpful in reducing FSH levels by improving the blood flow to the ovaries. By increasing blood flow, the amount of FSH delivered to the ovaries increases, and follicular development improves. If the elevated FSH levels are stress induced, acupuncture is helpful by reducing stress to allow your body to function more optimally.

Acupuncture Treatment Protocol:

While treatment recommendations are specific for each patient, a general guideline is a weekly treatment around days 7, 14, and 21 of your menstrual cycle.

Day 7 Treatment: Assists with egg development, maturation and quality by improving blood flow to the ovaries. Helps to improve the overall health and thickness of the endometrial lining.

Day 14 Treatment: Helps to facilitate ovulation and egg fertilization.

Day 21 Treatment: Increases blood flow to the uterus to assist with embryo implantation and maturation. It helps to ease the stress and anxiety of the waiting period.

While treatment on this schedule works for many of our patients, we understand that each woman’s cycle is unique. Many of our patients have irregular cycles or specific conditions which require a modification of this protocol. During your first appointment, a protocol will be developed for you and adjusted as needed throughout the cycle.

Endometriosis

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services more than five million women in the United States have endometriosis. It is one of the top three causes for female infertility. However, it is generally believed that 60–70% of women with endometriosis are fertile. Furthermore, about half the women who have difficulties with getting pregnant do eventually conceive!

Endometriosis is characterized by the presence and growth of endometrial cells outside of the uterus. Endometrial cells make up the lining of the uterus and respond and grow with the flux of hormones produced throughout the menstrual cycle. The cells that find their way outside of the uterus also respond and grow in response to hormonal changes and can cause abdominal pain and infertility, although 20-25% of women may be asymptomatic.

A diagnosis of endometriosis can be made through imaging tests such as an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However the only way to know for sure is by having surgery and confirmed through a biopsy.

Endometriosis’ role in fertility is somewhat unclear. It may be that severe endometriosis causes adhesions which can distort the shape of the uterus or fallopian tubes disrupting conception or implantation. Another theory is that women with endometriosis may have endocrine or ovulary disorders that prevent the correct functioning of the reproductive system. In addition, endometrial cells outside of the uterus can cause an inflammatory response which may have an adverse affect on the egg or embryo.

Generally, it is thought that the more severe the endometriosis the more likely infertility will be a result of the disease. Many doctors don’t consider fertility to be impacted by mild cases of endometriosis, although each patient’s case is different and recommendations vary widely.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Traditional Chinese medicine works to correct the cause of the endometriosis and any disturbances of the menstrual cycle caused by the endometriosis. We are looking to locate the original imbalance which allowed the endometriosis to develop in the first place.

Acupuncture works by promoting blood flow to the lower abdomen and reproductive organs. This increase in blood flow can boost the amount of immune cells reaching the area which can reduce the inflammation caused by the endometrial lesions. This anti-inflammatory effect can make the overall environment more conducive to conception and a healthy pregnancy.

Additionally, acupuncture can be effective in reducing the pain and discomfort sometimes associated with endometriosis. This is due to the release of endorphins during an acupuncture treatment which serve as the body’s natural pain relievers.

Acupuncture Treatment Protocol:

Acupuncture is recommended for any women diagnosed with endometriosis both to control pain and to improve pregnancy rates during any type of cycle (IVF, IUI, natural etc).

Treatment recommendations will vary depending on what, if any, type of treatment you are currently undergoing, but in general you are treated about 3 times per month on days 7, 14, and 21. If you experience pain during menses, treatment can be given during the final week of the cycle

Day 7 Treatment: Assists with egg development, maturation and quality by improving blood flow to the ovaries. Helps to improve the overall health and thickness of the endometrial lining.

Day 14 Treatment: Helps to facilitate ovulation and egg fertilization.

Day 21 Treatment: Increases blood flow to the uterus to assist with embryo implantation and maturation. It helps to ease the stress and anxiety of the waiting period.

Day 28 Treatment: While optional, can decrease premenstrual symptoms and reduce the pain experienced with the menstrual cycle.

While treatment on this schedule works for many of our patients, we understand that each woman’s cycle is unique. Many of our patients have irregular cycles or specific conditions which require a modification of this protocol. During your first appointment, a protocol will be developed for you and adjusted as needed throughout the cycle.

Luteal Phase Defect

The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle is the time between ovulation and the start of the woman’s next menstrual period. During this phase the lining of the uterus normally becomes thicker to prepare for a possible pregnancy. The luteal phase should last 12-14 days. A luteal phase of less than 12 days will lead to difficulty in adequate preparation of the endometrial lining for implantation. This can be caused by an insufficient amount of progesterone or it could be that the endometrium may not be responding properly to the progesterone. A luteal phase defect may be difficult to diagnose. It may cause your period to start earlier than anticipated each month. You may experience more frequent periods, low basal body temperature, intolerance to cold, spotting between periods, difficulty getting pregnant or miscarriage. However, some women do not experience any symptoms at all.
Blood work can check the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and progesterone in the blood, but several biopsies may be required in the days before you get your period to examine the endometrium.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

While treatment recommendations are specific for each patient, a general guideline is a weekly treatment around days 7, 14, and 21 of your menstrual cycle.

Acupuncture Treatment Protocol:

Acupuncture is recommended for any women diagnosed with endometriosis both to control pain and to improve pregnancy rates during any type of cycle (IVF, IUI, natural etc).

Treatment recommendations will vary depending on what, if any, type of treatment you are currently undergoing, but in general you are treated about 3 times per month on days 7, 14, and 21. If you experience pain during menses, treatment can be given during the final week of the cycle

Day 7 Treatment: Assists with egg development, maturation and quality by improving blood flow to the ovaries. Helps to improve the overall health and thickness of the endometrial lining.

Day 14 Treatment: Helps to facilitate ovulation and egg fertilization.

Day 21 Treatment: Increases blood flow to the uterus to assist with embryo implantation and maturation. It helps to ease the stress and anxiety of the waiting period.

While treatment on this schedule works for many of our patients, we understand that each woman’s cycle is unique. Many of our patients have irregular cycles or specific conditions which require a modification of this protocol. During your first appointment, a protocol will be developed for you and adjusted as needed throughout the cycle..

Ovulation Disorders

Ovulation disorders, the term used to describe absent or infrequent ovulation, account for about 25 percent of infertile couples, according to the Mayo Clinic. Ovulation disorders encompass a broad spectrum of causes with varying degrees of severity. However, the good news is ovulation disorders are often the least complicated issue to resolve.
According to WebMD, 70% of all women with ovulation problems have hormonal imbalances caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Proper balance and fluctuation of hormones in a women’s body are essential for ovulation and implantation. Imbalances in any one of the hormones generated by the hypothalamus, the pituitary, or the ovaries can cause a problem in a menstrual cycle.
In addition, issues which affect the metabolism such as extreme prolonged stress, being over or under weight, or excessive exercise can also affect a woman’s ovulation schedule.

Acupuncture Treatment Protocol:

While treatment recommendations are specific for each patient, a general guideline is a weekly treatment around days 7, 14, and 21 of your menstrual cycle.

Day 7 Treatment: Assists with egg development, maturation and quality by improving blood flow to the ovaries. Helps to improve the overall health and thickness of the endometrial lining.

Day 14 Treatment: Helps to facilitate ovulation and egg fertilization.

Day 21 Treatment: Increases blood flow to the uterus to assist with embryo implantation and maturation. It also helps to ease the stress and anxiety of the waiting period.

While treatment on this schedule works for many of our patients, we understand that each woman’s cycle is unique. Many of our patients have irregular cycles or specific conditions which require a modification of this protocol. During your first appointment, a protocol will be developed for you and adjusted as needed throughout the cycle.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

It is estimated that between 5 – 10% of women of childbearing age have PCOS. Although this can be a disappointing diagnosis to hear, the good news is that PCOS is highly treatable and responds well to acupuncture and herbal supplements.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a common endocrine disorder and is characterized by ovulatory dysfunction, polycystic ovaries and the existence of an excess amount of male hormones. The ovaries mistakenly produce more androgens (male hormones) than normal. High levels of these hormones affect the development and potential ovulation of an egg. This may lead to menstrual cycle changes, cysts in the ovaries, infertility, and other health changes.
The cause of PCOS is unknown, but researchers believe that genetics may be a factor. Researchers also believe that insulin is linked to PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that controls the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy for the body to use or store. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin in their bodies. Excess insulin in turn appears to produce more androgens.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Women who have PCOS often times don’t have regular menstrual cycles. Furthermore, when they do have menstrual cycles, they often times don’t ovulate, or they don’t ovulate until late in the cycle and therefore have a shorter luteal phase. Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in inducing ovulation and can be as effective, if not more effective than Clomiphene (Clomid)  and without the common side effects sometimes found with medications. Acupuncture has been demonstrated to improve menstrual frequency, promote ovulation, and to decrease circulating testosterone in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Acupuncture Treatment Protocol:

While treatment recommendations are specific for each patient, a general guideline is a weekly treatment around days 7, 14, and 21 of your menstrual cycle.

Day 7 Treatment: Assists with egg development, maturation and quality by improving blood flow to the ovaries. Helps to improve the overall health and thickness of the endometrial lining.

Day 14 Treatment: Helps to facilitate ovulation and egg fertilization.

Day 21 Treatment: Increases blood flow to the uterus to assist with embryo implantation and maturation. It helps to ease the stress and anxiety of the waiting period.

While treatment on this schedule works for many of our patients, we understand that each woman’s cycle is unique. Many of our patients have irregular cycles or specific conditions which require a modification of this protocol. During your first appointment, a protocol will be developed for you and adjusted as needed throughout the cycle.

Premature Ovarian Failure

Premature Ovarian Failure, also referred to as Primary Ovarian Insufficiency, refers to the loss of function of the ovaries before the age of 40. Hormonally, POF is defined by abnormally low levels of estrogen and high levels of FSH. This demonstrate that the ovaries are no longer as sensitive to circulating FSH which results in a lower estrogen level and  a decrease in egg development and quality.  POF used to be called premature menopause. However, POF is not the same as menopause. Some women with POF still have occasional periods. Premature menopause is when periods stop before age of 40.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Acupuncture can help with premature ovarian failure by improving blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. By increasing blood flow, normal egg production, maturation and ovulation is encouraged. Acupuncture can also be helpful in regulating hormone levels. Over time, acupuncture can lower high FSH levels and improve low estrogen levels. Acupuncture also reduced stress and anxiety, which can worsen POF.

Acupuncture Treatment Protocol:

While treatment recommendations are specific for each patient, a general guideline is a weekly treatment around days 7, 14, and 21 of your menstrual cycle.

Day 7 Treatment: Assists with egg development, maturation and quality by improving blood flow to the ovaries. Helps to improve the overall health and thickness of the endometrial lining.

Day 14 Treatment: Helps to facilitate ovulation and egg fertilization.

Day 21 Treatment: Increases blood flow to the uterus to assist with embryo implantation and maturation. It helps to ease the stress and anxiety of the waiting period.

While treatment on this schedule works for many of our patients, we understand that each woman’s cycle is unique. Many of our patients have irregular cycles or specific conditions which require a modification of this protocol. During your first appointment, a protocol will be developed for you and adjusted as needed throughout the cycle.

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

Any woman who has experienced a loss through miscarriage is familiar with the all-consuming worry that it might happen again.  The cautious optimism and joy can be quickly consumed by an overwhelming sense of fear and concern. Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment which reduces your chance of miscarriage as well as encourages a sense of empowerment.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Acupuncture works to reduce the chance of miscarriage by regulating the body’s natural hormones. There are many links between hormonal imbalances and recurrent miscarriage. The levels of progesterone, estrogen, prolactin, insulin levels and thyroid function, just to name a few, all work in a delicate balance. Acupuncture works to bring these hormones into balance so that a healthy pregnancy can be sustained.

In addition, acupuncture encourages blood flow to the uterine area which helps to support the embryo’s  healthy growth and development. Acupuncture has also been shown to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Acupuncture Treatment Protocol:

Typically, an acupuncture treatment every one to two weeks through the first 10 weeks of pregnancy is recommended. However, we will determine a plan to best fits your individual needs and circumstances.

Secondary Infertility

It is a reasonable assumption that after giving birth to a child you should be able to successfully conceive another. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In fact, the Center for Disease Control states that about 11% of couples who already have a child experience secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant after having already given birth to a biological child who was conceived without using assisted methods or medications. The cause for the infertility can be any of the factors that cause primary infertility. For example it could be the result of endometriosis or hormonal imbalances. Or it may be the result of changes in your risk factors such as age, weight, or the use of certain medications.
Emotionally, a diagnosis of secondary infertility can be especially difficult. Feelings of anger, grief, guilt, envy or lack of control over the situation are all common. Couples may feel isolated with their diagnosis as family and friends are often unaware of any fertility issues since you already have a child. Did I wait too long? Did I do something wrong? These are all common feelings and concerns that we hear from our patients.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Treatment of secondary infertility is similar in approach to that of primary infertility. The goal is to increase the blood flow to the reproductive organs which improves the quality of the eggs and the thickness of the uterine lining. It helps to regulate the hormones which play a critical role in the proper functioning and timing of the reproductive process.
In addition to addressing the physical issues, receiving care from our experienced and compassionate staff will support you emotionally as well. Although each of your stories is unique they also share a thread of similarity. Our experience allows us to help guide and support you through this process.

Acupuncture Treatment Protocol:

While treatment recommendations are specific for each patient, a general guideline is a weekly treatment around days 7, 14, and 21 of your menstrual cycle.

Day 7 Treatment: Assists with egg development, maturation and quality by improving blood flow to the ovaries. Helps to improve the overall health and thickness of the endometrial lining.

Day 14 Treatment: Helps to facilitate ovulation and egg fertilization.

Day 21 Treatment: Increases blood flow to the uterus to assist with embryo implantation and maturation. It also helps to ease the stress and anxiety of the waiting period.

While treatment on this schedule works for many of our patients, we understand that each woman’s cycle is unique. Many of our patients have irregular cycles or specific conditions which require a modification of this protocol. During your first appointment, a protocol will be developed for you and adjusted as needed throughout the cycle.

Secondary Infertility

A diagnosis of unexplained infertility can leave couples feeling frustrated and discouraged. It is reasoned that if a cause can be identified a cure should likely follow.
The term unexplained infertility is used to describe the condition where no medical reason is found for the infertility. For the male partner the semen analysis is within normal range. The female is found to be ovulating, hormone levels are within normal limits and the uterus and fallopian tubes are unobstructed. It may be surprising to learn that if this is your diagnosis you are not alone. According to Resolve, The National Infertility Association, approximately one in five couples will experience unexplained infertility despite completing a full infertility work-up.
Although this can be a frustrating diagnosis, we find this diagnosis hopeful. Many women who have come to see us with this diagnosis go on to conceive healthy babies.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

To put it very simply, in Chinese medicine a diagnosis of unexplained infertility means there is an imbalance somewhere in the body. Each patient’s pattern of conditions is evaluated to determine where the problem is and consequently what treatment is appropriate. Two people could have the same diagnosis in Western medicine, but could have different treatments in Chinese medicine. Acupuncture brings the body back in to balance, regulates the reproductive system and works to reduce stress.

Acupuncture Treatment Protocol:

While treatment recommendations are specific for each patient, a general guideline is a weekly treatment around days 7, 14, and 21 of your menstrual cycle.

Day 7 Treatment: Assists with egg development, maturation and quality by improving blood flow to the ovaries. It helps to improve the overall health and thickness of the endometrial lining.

Day 14 Treatment: Helps to facilitate ovulation and egg fertilization.

Day 21 Treatment: Increases blood flow to the uterus to assist with embryo implantation and maturation. It helps to ease the stress and anxiety of the waiting period.

While treatment on this schedule works for many of our patients, we understand that each woman’s cycle is unique. Many of our patients have irregular cycles or specific conditions which require a modification of this protocol. During your first appointment, a protocol will be developed for you and adjusted as needed throughout the cycle.