Acupuncture, a form of alternative medicine is the stimulation of specific acupuncture points along the skin of the body using thin needles. It is commonly used for pain relief, though it is also used to treat a wide range of conditions. Acupuncture is rarely used alone but rather as an adjunct to other treatment modalities. In Western settings acupuncture is used as a primary intervention for fertility problems. Acupuncture is increasingly used as an adjunct to assisted reproductive technologies and more widely in the complementary health care system.
The Western medical acupuncture approach involves using acupuncture after a medical diagnosis. In traditional acupuncture, the acupuncturist decides which points to treat by observing and questioning the patient to make a diagnosis according to the tradition used.
This method has always been applied to reproductive treatment in China. Western medicine may exert influence on neuroendocrine system, immunological functions and even signal pathway in consideration when discussing the efficacy of acupuncture and these still continue to be studied. The Chinese medicine evaluates the effect of acupuncture from an overall perspective. In Chinese medicine, reproductive function relates not only to reproductive organs, but also to the kidney, the liver, and the heart.
Acupuncture can be used as an adjuvant treatment for unexplained infertility. Although acupuncture did not increase the cumulative pregnancy rate, it decreased the number of control ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) cycles and more patients got pregnant in natural cycles after receiving acupuncture (Tab. 1).
Acupuncture treatment procedures should happen once or twice a week, and will continue for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Remember the process may take more time than just twice a week if you are combining it with medical infertility treatments, like IVF. In general, the acupuncture treatment can be completed in 12 appointments. At each appointment, your acupuncturist will most likely take additional time to discuss your current condition and answer any questions that you may have.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a style of traditional Asian medicine informed by modern medicine but built on a foundation of more than 2,500 years of Chinese medical practice that includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (tui na), exercise (qigong), and dietary therapy. It is primarily used as a complementary alternative medicine approach. TCM is widely used in China and is becoming increasingly prevalent in Europe and North America.
One of the basic tenets of TCM "holds that the body's vital energy (chi or qi) circulates through channels, called meridians, that have branches connected to bodily organs and functions." Concepts of the body and of disease used in TCM reflect its ancient origins and its emphasis on dynamic processes over material structure, similar to European humoral theory. Scientific investigation has found nohistological or physiological evidence for traditional Chinese concepts such as qi, meridians, and acupuncture points. The TCM theory and practice are not based upon scientific knowledge, and its own practitioners disagree widely on what diagnosis and treatments should be used for any given patient. The effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine remains poorly researched and documented. There are concerns over a number of potentially toxic plants, animal parts, and mineral Chinese medicinals. A review of cost-effectiveness research for TCM found that studies had low levels of evidence, but so far have not shown benefit outcomes. Pharmaceutical research has explored the potential for creating new drugs from traditional remedies, with few successful results. A Nature editorial described TCM as "fraught withpseudoscience", and said that the most obvious reason why it hasn't delivered many cures is that the majority of its treatments have no logical mechanism of action. Proponents propose that research has so far missed key features of the art of TCM, such as unknown interactions between various ingredients and complex interactive biological systems.
TCM's view of the body places little emphasis on anatomical structures, but is mainly concerned with the identification of functional entities (which regulate digestion, breathing, aging etc.). While health is perceived as harmonious interaction of these entities and the outside world, disease is interpreted as a disharmony in interaction. TCM diagnosis aims to trace symptoms to patterns of an underlying disharmony, by measuring the pulse, inspecting the tongue, skin, and eyes, and looking at the eating and sleeping habits of the person as well as many other things.
The fundamental principles of TCM are based on the Yin-Yang doctrine, the symbolic way of designating opposing forces, and the five element theory that everything in the Universe is dominated and balanced by the five elements, wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The therapeutic mechanism of TCM focuses on enhancing human body's resistance to diseases by improving the inter-connections among self-controlled systems and integrating the human body with the environment. The practice of TCM involves physical therapy such as acupuncture and chemical therapy using materials originating from plants, minerals and animals, while TCM natural products may comprise one or more herbs in the form of decoctions.
In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin yang sometimes referred to in the west as yin and yang) is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Many natural dualities — e.g. dark and light, female and male, low and high, cold and hot — are thought of as manifestations of yin and yang (respectively).
Yin yang are complementary opposites within a greater whole. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, although yin or yang elements may manifest more strongly in different objects or at different times. Yin yang constantly interacts, never existing in absolute stasis. The concept of yin and yang is often symbolized by various forms of the Taijitu symbol, for which it is probably best known in western cultures. There is a perception (especially in the West) that yin and yang correspond to good and evil. However, Taoist philosophy generally discounts good/bad distinctions as superficial labels, preferring to focus on the idea of balance.
In TCM, there are five diagnostic methods: inspection, auscultation, olfaction, inquiry, and palpation.
Inspection focuses on the face and particularly on the tongue, including analysis of the tongue size, shape, tension, color and coating, and the absence or presence of teeth marks around the edge.
Auscultation refers to listening for particular sounds (such as wheezing). Olfaction refers to attending to body odor. Inquiry focuses on the "seven inquiries", which involve asking the person about the regularity, severity, or other characteristics of: chills, fever, perspiration, appetite, thirst, taste, defecation, urination, pain, sleep, menses, leukorrhea. Palpation which includes feeling the body for tender A-shi points, and the palpation of the wrist pulses as well as various other pulses, and palpation of the abdomen. Examination of the tongue and the pulse are among the principal diagnostic methods in TCM.Certain sectors of the tongue's surface are believed to correspond to the zàng-fŭ. For example, teeth marks on one part of the tongue might indicate aproblem with the Heart, while teeth marks on another part of the tongue might indicate a problem with the Liver. Pulse palpation involves measuring the pulse both at a superficial and at a deep level at three different locations on the radial artery (Cun, Guan, Chi, located two fingerbreadths from the wrist crease, one fingerbreadth from the wrist crease, and right at the wrist crease, respectively, usually palpated with the index, middle and ring finger) of each, for a total of twelve pulses, all of which are thought to correspond with certain zàng-fŭ. The pulse is examined for several characteristics including rhythm, strength and volume, and described with qualities like "floating, slippery, bolstering-like, feeble, thready and quick"; each of these qualities indicate certain disease patterns. Learning TCM pulse diagnosis can take several years.
Chinese medicine therapies
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity, and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.
The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health concerns, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. It may be done sitting, or in an active way—for instance, Buddhist monks involve awareness in their day-to-day activities as a form of mind-training. Prayer beads or other ritual objects are commonly used during meditation in order to keep track of or remind the practitioner about some aspect of that training.
Both physical and psychological or emotional stress affect the body in all kinds of ways, not the least of which is fertility. Stress decreases women’s fertility in part because it can stop ovulation and menstruation altogether. Short of that, women under stress are less likely to get pregnant in any given cycle than are women not experiencing any particular psychological distress. Stressed women also face a higher risk of very early miscarriage.
Studies have clearly demonstrated the fertility effects of stress in men as well. Researchers collected semen samples from their volunteers at a time of stress and again at a time of no extraordinary stress. The first (stressed) samples showed lower sperm counts, lower motility, lower semen quality, and a higher percentage of abnormal sperm compared to those taken later (not under stress). Fortunately, full fertility was restored when the stress disappeared. It may means that reducing stress can reverse fertility problems.
Spending a few minutes a day centering yourself and focusing positively on your body, your health, your cycle, and your fertility may be a great way to tap into.
Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is a therapeutic approach to treating medical conditions and their associated symptoms via the use of a specifically tailored diet devised and monitored by a medical doctor, registered dietitian or professional nutritionist. The diet is based upon the patient's medical record, physical examination, functional examination and dietary history.
The role of MNT when administered by an MD or DO physician, dietitian or professional nutritionist is to reduce the risk of developing complications in pre-existing conditions such as type 2 diabetes as well as ameliorate the effects any existing conditions such as high cholesterol.
Assisted reproduction therapy does not exist.
In general, a healthy diet for optimal fertility must be balanced. A woman’s diet may ultimately affect her fertility, particularly ovulation. Overall, replacing carbohydrates with animal protein was demonstrated to be detrimental to ovulatory fertility. Adding just one serving of meat was correlated with a 32% higher chance of developing ovulatory infertility, particularly if the meat was chicken or turkey. However, replacing carbohydrates with vegetable protein demonstrated a protective effect. Choosing trans fats in the diet instead of monounsaturated fats has been demonstrated to drastically increase the risk of ovulatory infertility. Consuming trans fats instead of carbohydrates correlated with a 73% increase in risk of ovulatory disorder. The use of multivitamins and supplements also has an effect. Women who take multivitamins may be less likely to experience ovulatory infertility; women who take six or more tablets had the lowest relative risk for infertility followed by women who took three to five, and two or less. Women with high “fertility diet” scores emphasized by a higher monounsaturated to trans-fat ratio, vegetable over animal protein, high-fat over low-fat dairy, a decreased glycemic load, and an increased intake of iron and multivitamins had lower rates of infertility due to ovulation disorders.
Aspects of a male’s diet may have an impact on his fertility. Consuming a diet rich in carbohydrates, fiber, folate, and lycopene as well as consuming fruit and vegetables correlates with improved semen quality. Consuming lower amounts of both proteins and fats were more beneficial for fertility. Another potential benefit could be antioxidants, which play a pivotal role in the body by scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS). Reactive oxygen species or ROS are a collection of free radicals and non-radical derivatives of oxygen such as superoxide anion (O2• -), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), hydroxyl radical (OH•). This category also includes free radicals derived from nitrogen called reactive nitrogen species such as: nitric oxide (NO•), nitric dioxide (NO2•), peroxynitrite (ONOO-). Collectively they are termed as reactive oxygen species. These are by-products of cellular respiration that are necessary for certain cellular activity, including sperm capacitation; however, an overabundance of ROS may compromise sperm function, including sperm motility, altering DNA and decreasing membrane integrity. Antioxidants are molecules such as albumin, ceruloplasmin, and ferritin; and an array of small molecules, including ascorbic acid, α-tocopherol, β-carotene, reduced glutathione, uric acid, and bilirubin or enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase. Antioxidants help remove the excess ROS in the seminal ejaculate and assist in the conversion of ROS to compounds that are less detrimental to cells. If there is more ROS than the local antioxidants can remove, it results in oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can result in sperm protein, lipid and DNA damage and sperm dysfunction.