Acupuncture, IVF and modern day hospitals in China
There have been a number of studies looking at acupuncture and it’s role in pre and post IVF treatments. Many acupuncturists through out New Zealand perform these treatments every day. Many Chinese medicine practitioners have specialized in the treatment of women’s disorders including the inability to conceive. In fact, the first specialist gynecology texts date back to the 1200’s. In modern day China, many traditional Chinese medicine doctors graduating from university choose to specialize in women’s health and then go on to work in a Chinese medicine gynecology ward.
What can cause infertility according to Chinese medicine?
In Chinese medicine diagnosis there are a number of traditional causes that could be contributing to the inability to conceive. To the modern day woman, these causes can seem a bit difficult to understand and they often become skeptical that acupuncture may help. For example, one Chinese medical diagnosis that could be contributing to the infertility is liver energy blockage. The patient then remarks that all her medical liver blood tests are normal and her problem is her estrogen. Traditional medicine takes on a different approach. The estrogen imbalance could be seen in a liver energy blockage, a kidney energy weakness or spleen damp diagnosis, all requiring different Chinese medicine treatment. Whereas in modern medicine, estrogen treatment is all exactly the same.
Acupuncture points and clomiphene
There are hundreds of acupuncture points that could be used to treat infertility but there are limited numbers of pharmaceuticals that treat fertility. The most commonly prescribed medication is clomiphene. Acupuncture points would be selected according the individuals constitutional make up and which pattern of disharmony the patient would be categorized as. Examples of the function of the acupuncture points could be to resolve damp, restore liver energy blockage, tonify spleen function, fortify kidney yang or warm the uterus.
The acupuncture points would also might likely change from treatment to treatment as the health status changed and evolved.
Does the acupuncturist just treat the infertility or other symptoms as well?
Other symptoms that the woman could be experiencing could be very significant to the acupuncturist but have no relevance at all to the modern gynecologist. For example, the woman may have disturbed sleep with many dreams and hot feet at night and need to get up to go to the toilet. This could indicate liver yin and blood deficiency from a Chinese medicine diagnosis which is cause of infertility. From a western medical perspective, it would have no relevance and perhaps a sleeping pill would be prescribed if the patient desired it. Sarah Molony, who has a Bachelor’s degree in acupuncture says “As a traditional trained acupuncturist, it is imperative that I do an extensive case history taking into account all current complaints and symptoms as well as any significant problems from the past to allow me to get an in-depth diagnosis and plan treatment strategies accordingly. Women are always happy that the treatment is addressing their fertility issues as well as promoting better health and improving things like sleep, energy and the digestive system“.
Stress, infertility and qi gong
Stress is always a factor to consider when treating infertility. Acupuncture for fertility can improve the physical health as well as the mental well being. Qi gong can also help the patient with their physical and mental well being. Qi gong is an ancient Chinese based exercise system that is loosely described as standing or gentle moving meditation.
Sarah Molony and Acupuncture New Zealand
Sarah Molony specializes in women’s health and practices in Whakatane. She says “A lot of my patients initially come to me for acupuncture to help their hormones and I end up treating their liver for their stress. I then introduce them to qi gong to further support the acupuncture“.
There are over 700 practitioners who are members of Acupuncture New Zealand and practice through out the country.