In order for a woman to conceive, she must ovulate. The egg must travel through the fallopian tube towards the uterus and a man’s sperm must fertilise the egg along the way. Finally the fertilised egg must implant into the wall of the uterus. Some of the main causes of infertility in women are; endometriosis (where parts of the uterine wall are deposited in the abdomen outside the uterus itself), ovulation problems, poor egg quality, polycystic ovary syndrome, and fallopian tube blockages. In men problems may be caused by low sperm count or sperm abnormalities.

However, in many cases the infertility is unexplained, with no underlying problems that can be identified.

Chinese medicine may be used on its own or in combination with IVF or other forms of assisted reproduction. In a recent study, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture have been shown to result in a high success rate of pregnancy in infertile couples (Journal of Chinese Medicine 2006; 80; 20-8). It has shown improvements in quality and number of eggs and in the thickness of the uterine wall, all of which could help to explain its success.

Chinese medicine treatment is tailored to you as an individual. The practitioner will take note of your medical history, the characteristics of your menstrual cycle and your general health. The aim of treatment will be to regulate the cycle and support ovulation or implantation. A minimum of three months’ treatment can be expected in the case of unexplained infertility.

Although with underlying problems such as endometriosis treatment tends to be longer; improvement may be seen in other changes as well such as a reduction in the severity of period pain. Acupuncture also help with male fertility. Acupuncture can significantly improve the production of healthy sperms by balancing and strengthening the functions of the male reproductive organs, and increase the quantity of sperm produced and improve sperm quality and motility.

Most IVF failures are not because there are not enough embryos. It is when the embryo is put back into the womb and fails to implant. Many patients have therefore been asked to have the acupuncture during their IVF treatment.

Acupuncture support patients physically and mentally during and after the IVF procedures; The treatment helps to relax the uterus, improve the blood flow to the uterus and ovaries; thickening the endometrial lining and calm the uterus so that implantation is more likely. Often in IVF, the embryo transfer process stimulates uterine contractions which can make implantation difficult. This is why studies suggest that acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer increase success rates significantly. The continued acupuncture treatment for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is highly recommended to maintain the pregnancy and minimize the risk of miscarriage, it is also helpful for morning sickness, fatigue and mood swings.