Fertility and Pregnancy

INFERTILITY

This is our area of specialty. It is wonderful to see people’s lives change as they accomplish their goals of expanding their family.  What an amazing gift!  Many couples come to us after getting fertility diagnostic testing done, yet most do not have a clear reason for their inability to get or stay pregnant.  Some patients come to us before getting any testing.

We treat both men and women for infertility.

How can Chinese medicine and acupuncture enhance fertility?

Doctors of Chinese medicine are highly trained to identify and treat imbalances that may lead to infertility.  We are also trained to know when and what tests should be performed to get a better understanding of how the body needs to be treated.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can:

  • regulate the menstrual cycle and promote healthy ovulation
  • increase blood circulation to the uterus to provide a better lining
  • increase success of rates of IVF (in vitro fertilization) and IUI (intra-follicle insemination)
  • reduce stress response and regulate hormones
  • make sperm healthier and increase motility
  • increase pregnancy rates and reduce miscarriages

The journey to fertility can be a stressful time for a woman.  Chinese medicine is used to treat the imbalances leading to infertility, but treatments at our clinic also result in additional benefits, such as feeling:

  • less isolation
  • supported and empowered
  • less stress, more peace, and optimism
  • less fear and anxiety
  • more knowledgeable, with fewer unknowns

The treatments for infertility are specific to your individual body and needs.  Specific lifestyle, nutritional, and supplement guidance will be given to you during your first appointment.

When should I start treatment to enhance my IVF/IUI outcome?

We schedule treatment times and dates around your concurrent artificial reproductive treatment (ART).  It is advised to begin treatments a couple months before you plan to undergo IVF (in vitro fertilization) and IUI (intra-follicle insemination).  During embryo transfer, we give treatments the morning of transfer and directly after transfer to help implantation and stabilize the egg.

General Fertility Tips:  Click here to read the top 5 fertility tips!

Cold Laser Therapy (Low Level Light or LET) to boost fertility!

How is Cold Laser Therapy used for fertility enhancement?

Low Level Laser Therapy for fertility is a cutting-edge clinical treatment. This technique is effective, painless, safe, and non-invasive.

LLLT increase mitochondria production of which your eggs have 200 times more mitochondria than other cells in the body. When eggs are developing, they use a tremendous amount of energy. Early embryo division and implantation require lots of energy. After 35 years, mitochondria wear down and it is estimated that 9 out of 10 eggs are abnormal due to the lack of ATP and energy available for them.

Who can benefit from Cold Laser Therapy for fertility?

Women who have egg quality issues:
⦁ Low AMH
⦁ High FSH
⦁ Women 38 and over
⦁ PCOS or Ovarian cysts
⦁ Uterine Fibroids
⦁ Poor responders to conventional therapies (IVF, IUI, Medications)

Women who have uterine lining issues
⦁ Endometriosis and inflammation
⦁ Recurrent infections of the abdomen (Herpes, Candida, Chlamydia)
⦁ History of abdominal surgery or D&C
⦁ Thin lining during IVF cycles

Cold Laser Therapy for fertility works to:

⦁ Reduce oxidative stress and aging to the ovaries
⦁ Increase blood flow to the uterus, ovaries and abdomen
⦁ Speed tissue healing
⦁ Eliminate recurring infections
⦁ Reduce scaring (from earlier surgeries or infections)
⦁ Relax the sympathetic nervous system
⦁ Increased absorption of CoQ10 antioxidant, which helps offset free radical damage
⦁ Decreases stress and promotes parasympathetic function

Cold laser treatments are gentle and painless. There are no side-effects associated with the treatments, and it works well when combined with other therapies, especially acupuncture.

Treatment Protocols:

⦁ Beginning on the first day of your period, the first of six laser treatments would start.
⦁ The treatments would continue over the next two weeks until you ovulate—generally three treatments a week.
⦁ If you’re combining acupuncture with your laser treatments, we recommend two sessions a week during those two weeks between menses and ovulation.
⦁ When ovulation is expected, natural or assisted insemination is attempted. If you don’t conceive, another course of treatment will begin again on the first day of your next period. This cycle will continue for three to six months, which is typically the time frame in which conception occurs.
In general, fertility enhancement cold laser treatment involves 2-3 times a week for 1-3 months.

PREPARING FOR EGG-RETRIEVAL: Cold laser therapy increases ATP and mitochondria production (your natural energy reserves in your cells) which will support follicular growth and development. For this reason, it is best to have women use it a minimum of 3 times per week for 30 minutes, leading up to retrieval. 

POST-RETRIEVAL: Cold laser therapy has been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation after surgeries, and enhance the post-op healing process. By improving healing time, increasing blood flow, and reducing inflammation it will help prepare the body for transfer and therefore support implantation. 

PRE-EMBRYO TRANSFER: Cold laser therapy is shown to boost blood flow to the uterus and increase the thickness of the uterine lining, which is why we recommend 3x per week for 30 minutes each leading up to the embryo transfer. This device is FDA approved, totally safe, and extremely effective. 

PREGNANCY

Acupuncture offers a safe, effective and drug-free treatment option during pregnancy.  Doctors of Chinese medicine are highly trained and able to specialize in infertility and pregnancy, following specific protocols that have been tested and used for many years.

Our treatment tables are memory foam and are fully adjustable to keep you comfortable in your own personalized setting during the different stages of pregnancy.

What can acupuncture help with during pregnancy?

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hypertension
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Breech and posterior presentation
  • Musculoskeletal pain (low back, hip, sacroiliac, pubic symphysis, etc.)
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Hemorrhoids and vulvar varices
  • Insomnia
  • Edema
  • Headaches
  • Sinus problems
  • Tiredness and exhaustion
  • Threatened miscarriage

When should I begin acupuncture treatment?

Weeks 1-12:

Acupuncture is performed weekly for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to help reduce miscarriage risk and reduce any discomfort you may be experiencing.  After 12 weeks gestation, acupuncture can be continued or used at any point during the pregnancy to help reduce these symptoms, or simply to reduce stress levels throughout the pregnancy.

Weeks 33-40:

Weekly pre-labor treatments begin with the goal of preparing your body for birth.  The focus is on strengthening you, softening the cervix, facilitating sleep, and reducing stress and anxiety leading up to the birth. Women who receive these pre-labor treatments tend to require less intervention during labor, as well as a reduction in late-term pregnancies.

Treating couples for infertility and during pregnancy is one of the most rewarding parts of our practice. There’s nothing like holding a healthy baby whose parents we’ve treated! Book a consultation if you want to know more.

Exercise Therapy

Why is Meditation so important?

Meditation will continue to make the top of the list of daily exercises necessary to promote physical and mental health and wellness.  It doesn’t have to be as daunting or boring as it seems.  We need to encourage our bodies to let go of the stress that accumulates and hinders us on a daily basis.  The best thing to do to halt our worrying minds is simple – Stop and meditate.

A study published in the Management Science journal carried out by Stanford and Harvard graduates, estimated the increased mortality and healthcare costs due to 10 workplace stressors, such as job insecurity, lack of health insurance, long hours, etc.  “We find that more than 120,000 deaths per year and approximately 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs are associated with and may be attributable to how U.S. companies manage their workforces”

The American Journal of Psychiatry published research showing a meditation program effectively reduces the symptoms of anxiety and panic, even in those with a generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or panic disorder with agoraphobia. The Mayo Clinic promotes that meditation may improve certain medical conditions.

Begin with just 10 minutes a day.  You can download Headspace for a daily 10-minute guided meditation or you can try this 1-minute meditation technique and perform that each day for 10 minutes.

1-minute meditation

qigong

Qi Gong and Tai Chi are two types of exercise that involve body movements that increase energy. They are very low impact and people of all ages and abilities can participate. Consider picking up a DVD and giving it a try. You will notice a difference in your energy, mental clarity, and a more restful sleep with regular practice.

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” – Chinese Proverb

 

What are some quick and easy exercises I can do to improve my body’s function?

The Standing Forward Bend (Padahastasana) is a great mid-morning stretch of the legs and back that can help reduce the chronic tightness that most of us have.  While in this position you want to really let your head and neck to hang as you bend at the hips.  If you cannot bend that far forward, you may place a chair in front of you, which will also help you keep your balance.  You can also modify this position by opening up your feet to hips width apart.  If you experience back pain during this pose, bend your knees slightly.  With every breath, go deeper and deeper into the stretch.  Continue this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time.  You may even notice more mental alertness right away.

The Sun Salutation Sequence (Surya Namaskar) is a powerful yoga practice to enhance overall body strength and endurance.  A study was conducted using 79 subjects performing the sun salutation sequence twice a day, 6 days a week, for 24 weeks.  The results not only showed an increase in arm and leg strength but also a significant decrease in Body Fat Index (BMI).  This 10-minute practice is best done at sunrise and sunset.  This Sun Salutation Video is a great beginner video to learn how to perform the sequence.

Mayan abdominal massage daily. This is a lower abdominal massage that is easy to learn and can be accomplished while you are in the shower, before getting into the shower, or just before bed.  This practice is good for increasing blood circulation to the uterus, particularly for those with fibroids, PCOS, or endometriosis, while at the same you are giving your womb some love.  This can actually help strengthen prolapses.  You can find YouTube videos demonstrating this simple and quick technique – I have found the one by Melissa M. Turner to be the easiest to follow.

References for Stress Reduction:

1 Goh, J., Pfeffer, J., Zenios, S. “The relationship between workplace stressors and mortality and health costs in the United States.” Management Science, vol. 62, issue 2, 2015, pp. 608-628.
2 “Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders.” The American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 149, issue 7, 1992, pp. 936-943.
3 “How effective is sun salutation in improving muscle strength, general body endurance and body composition.” Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 2, issue 4, 2011, pp. 259-266.

References for Fertility using Cold Laser (or LLLT):

⦁ Avci, Pinar et al. “Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring.” Seminars in cutaneous medicine and surgery vol. 32,1 (2013): 41-52.
⦁ “Congress Abstracts .” J-STAGE, www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/islsm/25/3/25_16-AB-01/_pdf.
⦁ Iwahata, Hidehisa, et al. “TREATMENT OF FEMALE INFERTILITY INCORPORATING LOW-REACTIVE LASER THERAPY (LLLT): AN INITIAL REPORT.” J-STAGE.
⦁ Ohshiro, Toshio. “Personal Overview of the Application of LLLT in Severely Infertile Japanese Females.” Laser therapy vol. 21,2 (2012): 97-103. doi:10.5978/islsm.12-OR-05
⦁ Lorne. “Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) in Our Infertility Clinic.” Acubalance Wellness Centre, 1 June 2017, www.acubalance.ca/resources/publications/low-level-laser-therapy-lllt-our-infertility-clinic.
⦁ Lorne. “Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) in Our Infertility Clinic.” Acubalance Wellness Centre, 1 June 2017, www.acubalance.ca/resources/publications/low-level-laser-therapy-lllt-our-infertility-clinic.
⦁ Avci, Pinar et al. “Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss.” Lasers in surgery and medicine vol. 46,2 (2014): 144-51. doi:10.1002/lsm.22170
⦁ Sawhney, Mossum K., and Michael R. Hamblin. “Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT) for Cosmetics and Dermatology.” Mechanisms for Low-Light Therapy IX, 2014, doi:10.1117/12.2041330.
⦁ Hasan, P. et al: “The possible application of low-reactive laser level therapy (LLLT) in the treatment of male infertility”. 1989.
⦁ Bartmann, A. et al: “Why do older women have poor impanation rates? A possible role of the mitochondria”. 2004.
⦁ Kara, T.: “Lasers in infertility treatment. Irradiation of oocytes and spermatozoa”. 2012.
⦁ Firestone, R. et al: “The effects of low-level light exposure on sperm motion characteristics and DNA damage”. 2013.

References for Infertility:

  • Effectiveness and treatment for unexplained infertility.The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, authors. Fertil Steril. 2006;86(5 suppl):S111–S114. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Spring; 1(2): 69–76.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Unexplained Infertility Alexander Quaas, MD, PhD*and Anuja Dokras, MD, PhD.
  • Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: systematic review and meta-analysis. Manheimer E et al. BMJ 2008;336 pg 545-549 British Medical Journal.
  • Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Paulus W et al, Fertil Steril 2002 Vol 77, pg 721-724 Fertility and Sterility.
  • Acupuncture & IVF poor responders: a cure? Magarelli P,Cridennda D, Fertil Steril,2004;81 Suppl 3 S20 Fertility and Sterility.
  • A randomized, controlled, double-blind, cross-over study evaluating acupuncture as an adjunct to IVF. Quintero R et al, Fertil Steril 2004 Vol 81 Suppl 3, pg S11-12 Fertility and Sterility.
  • Effect of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study. Dieterle S et al, Fertil Steril 2006 Vol 85, pg 1347-1351 Fertility and Sterility.
  • Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial. Westergaard L et al, Fertil Steril 2006 Vol 85, pg 1341-1346 Fertility and Sterility.
  • Influence of acupuncture stimulation on pregnancy rates for women undergoing embryo transfer. Smith C et al, Fertil Steril 2006 Vol 85, pg 1352-1358 Fertility and Sterility.
  • Acupuncture and IVF: new evidence for an unlikely duo. Horn, B. Alternative Therapies in Women’s Health. 2007 Vol. 9(2)81-88.
  • Effect of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in embryo transfer and mechanisms: a randomized and controlled study. Zhang M et al, Chin Acup and Moxabustion 2003, Jan 23 (1): 3 – 5.
  • The effect of acupuncture on outcomes in in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Udoff L. C. et al, Fertil Steril 2007 Vol 86, Issue 3, pg S145 Fertility and Sterility.
  • Changes in serum cortisol and prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilization–embryo transfer treatment. Magarelli, PC, D Cridennda, M Cohen. Fertil Steril. 2009 Dec;92(6):1870-9.
  • A pilot study evaluating the combination of acupuncture with sildenafil on endometrial thickness. Yu W et.al. Presented at the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society Annual Conference 2007.
  • Acupuncture in IVF linked to lower miscarriage and ectopic rates. OB/Gyn News, Copyright 2005 by International Medical News Group, an Elsevier company.
  • Acupuncture: impact on pregnancy outcomes in IVF patients. Paul C. Magarelli, M.D., Ph.D. Reproductive Medicine & Fertility Center, Colorado Springs, Diane Cridennda, L.Ac. East Winds Acupuncture, Mel Cohen, MBA Reproductive Medicine & Fertility Center, Colorado Springs, 12th World Congress on Human Reproduction, Venice Italy March 2005.
  • The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: a pilot study. Balk J et al, Compl Therapies in Clinical Practice 2010,16,154–157 Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
  • Understanding women’s views towards the use of acupuncture while undergoing IVF treatment. Smith C and De Lacey S, 2008 In press FSA conference 2008.
  • Stressful life events are associated with a poor in-vitro Fertilization (IVF) outcome: a prospective study. Ebbesen S.M.S. Hum Reprod 2009;24(9):2173-2182. Human Reproduction
  • Stress reduces conception probabilities across the fertile window: evidence in support of relaxation. Buck Louis GM et al, Fertil Steril. 2010 Jul 30. [Epub ahead of print] Fertility and Sterility.
  • Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Stener-Victorin E, et al Hum Reprod 1996; 11:1314-1317. Human Reproduction.
  • Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Raymond Chang, M.D., The Institute of East-West Medicine, The Department of Internal Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Pak H. Chung, M.D., Zev Rosenwaks, M.D., The Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility. Received June 24, 2002; revised July 19, 2002.
  • Effects of electro-acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Stener-Victorin E et al; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Göteborg University, Sweden.
  • Acupuncture and exercise restore adipose tissue expression of sympathetic markers and improve ovarian morphology in rats with dihydrotestosterone-induced PCOS. Mannerås, et al. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Apr;296(4):R1124-31.
  • Acupuncture normalizes dysfunction of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. Bo-Ying Chen M.D., Professor of Neurobiology, Institute of Acupuncture and Department of Neurobiology, Shanghai Medical University, Shanghai 200032, P.R. China, accepted with revisions June 30, 1997.
  • Effects of specific Chinese herbal preparations on endocrinological status and ovulatory induction in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Ushiroyama T et al. – Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Osaka M
  • Clinical studies on the mechanism for acupuncture stimulation of ovulation. Mo X; Li D; Pu Y; Xi G; Le X; Fu Z Zhejiang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hangzhou
  • Relationship between blood radioimmunoreactive beta-endorphin and hand skin temperature during the electro-acupuncture induction of ovulation. Chen Bo Ying M.D. Lecturer of Neurobiology, Institute of Acupuncture Research, and Yu Jin, MD., Prof of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital Shanghai Medical University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.

References for pregnancy:

  • Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized trial.Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. (2002). Birth. 29(1):1-9.
  • Pregnancy outcome following women’s participation in a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. (2002). Complement Ther Med. 10(2):78-83.
  • Effects of acupuncture and stabilizing exercises as adjunct to standard treatment in pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain: randomized single blind controlled trial.Elden H, (2005) Ladfors I, Fagevik Olsen M, Ostaard H, Hagberg H.
  • Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation.Cardini F, Weixin H. (1998).  Journal American Medical Association. 280:1580-1584.
  • On the use of acupuncture in the preparation for delivery.  Kubista E, Kucera H. (1974).  Geburtshilfe Perinatol; 178(3):224-9.
  • Acupuncture for Prebirth Treatment: An Observational Study of its use in Midwifery practice.Betts D Lenox S (2006).   Medical Acupuncture. Vol 17, No 3.
  • Acupuncture administered after spontaneous rupture of membranes at term significantly reduces the length of birth and use of oxytocin: A randomized controlled trial. Gaudernack L, Forbord S, Hole E. (2007).  Midirs Midwifery Digest. Vol 17, No 2.
  • The effects of Acupuncture during Labour on Nulliparious Women: A Randomized Controlled trial.Hantoushzadeh S. Alhusseini N. Lebaschi A (2007).  Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 47:26-30.
  • Effects of LI-4 and BL-67 Acupressure on Labour Pain and Uterine Contractions in the First Stage of Labour.Chung UL J. (2003).  Nurs Res. 11(4):251-60.
  • Effects of acupuncture and stabilising exercises as adjunct to standard treatment in pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain: randomised singleblind controlled trail.Elden H, Ladfors l, Fagevik Olsen M, Ostaard H, Hagberg H.  BMJ 2005;330:761
  • Effects of acupuncture and stabilising exercisers as adjunct to standard treatment in pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain: randomised singleblind controlled trail. Deadman P, Al-Khafaji M, Baker K. A Manual of Acupuncture. Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications, Eastland Press; 2001 p 103& 318
  • Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth.West Z. Churchill Livingstone; p2001
  • Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term – a randomised controlled trail.Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P.  Wien Klin Wochenschr 2001; 113 (23-24): 942-6
  • Influence of acupuncture on duration of labour.Tempfer C, Zeisler H, Mayerhofe Kr, Barrada M Husslein P.  Gynecol Obstet Invest 1998; 46:22-5