By Dr. Deborah Rothman
I treat many different ailments and medical concerns in my practice. However, I do have one that is dear to my heart. As a mom, I can relate to the struggle and anguish some go through in their quest to become parents.
Infertility plagues many women of different ages, presenting as primary infertility, when a couple has difficulty conceiving or carrying their first child to term; or secondary infertility, where a couple has one or more children, but has trouble conceiving or carrying subsequent children.
It can manifest when a couple is trying desperately to conceive their first child and begin a family, but it can also become an issue when the couple has already been blessed with one or more children but desperately wants to grow their family, and their efforts seem futile.
It is a struggle that affects the couple both physically and emotionally. Not having a crystal ball on hand to see the future may be the most difficult part. But the struggle is real, and it’s a different path for each individual and couple. No two stories are exactly alike, just as no two individuals are exactly alike.
We are living in a time when medical advancements in this area are vast. The methodology grows by leaps and bounds yearly. There is a tremendous amount of scientific knowledge available to us, and many varying plans and courses of action that can be taken to help facilitate the conception of a new life. There are numerous organizations available to help a couple struggling, whether in finding appropriate medical care, fertility specialist teams, or providing emotional support. These groups bring tremendous comfort to these couples as they learn they are not alone.
For many of my patients who are just starting out on the infertility journey, they are sometimes blissfully unaware of the constant testing, bloodwork, etc., that may lie ahead. Sometimes it can be a simple problem or concern that, once determined, can be easily remedied.
However, at times this is not the case and the months and sometimes years of frustration, constant medical intervention, and expense can take its toll on the individuals who are willing to do anything to welcome a sweet, precious child into the world.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have been proven effective over thousands of years as a tool for conception and helping with infertility. They can help regulate hormones, promote ovulation and regularity, and enhance a successful IUI or IVF cycle. They can also increase sperm count and motility, and regulate polycystic ovarian syndrome, otherwise known as PCOS, and endometriosis.
Acupuncture can also assist in sustaining a threatened miscarriage or in a situation where there has been a history of multiple miscarriages. Sometimes the cause is determined, whereas other times infertility may be unexplained.
A recent Tel Aviv study by Dr. Shahar Lev-Ari and Keren Sela at Sackler Faculty of Medicine published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, cited that acupuncture, when used in conjunction with Western medical approaches, increases pregnancy rates by 26%. “When combining IUI with TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) treatments, 65.5 percent of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4 percent of the control group.” In a similar article from Pacific University (Delosantos 2012), TCM was cited as an excellent adjunct therapy to Western medicine fertility treatments.
In 2003, the WHO (World Health Organization) published a report reviewing the effectiveness of acupuncture in 255 cases of reliable clinical trials. This list included infertility as well as many conditions contributing to infertility, such as PCOS, anovulation, dysmenorrhea, and male sexual dysfunction.
What makes acupuncture so effective in treating infertility is that each individual is unique. Rather than being labeled as someone who has irregular menstruation or doesn’t ovulate, the patient is viewed as a whole person. The patient must be properly diagnosed with the underlying cause of the particular symptoms and manifestations. The acupuncture point selection is tailored to the individual as well as to the time of treatment within her cycle. Treatment is necessary to activate ovulation. Additionally, hormone levels, including FSH and LH, are monitored. Synchronization of the Western science approach with TCM is to ensure the best outcome for the patient for conception to occur.
Acupuncture has no negative side effects; therefore, using acupuncture along with fertility treatments can help increase the chance of success with no drawbacks. Additionally, acupuncture can help relieve stress during this challenging time.
I am sometimes the first to know when a patient has a positive result on a pregnancy test, or when a patient is told a transfer was successful. One special patient presented me with a positive EPT stick test wrapped up in a jewelry box! My camera roll on my cell phone is full of updated baby pictures from patients
I have been blessed to help. There is simply no greater joy than being able to help a struggling couple who desperately wants to start or continue a family. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are a great natural tool to help that dream become a reality.
Dr. Deborah Rothman is a licensed acupuncturist and a Diplomate of Acupuncture with a private practice in Woodmere. Comments and questions are welcome. She can be reached at 516-203-4500 or Deborah@AcuZen.com. Please visit AcuZen.com and follow Acu-Zen on Facebook.