One of the key components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is a procedure that stimulates specific points on the body by penetrating a needle into the skin, which is then manually or electronically manipulated. Often used to treat pains and ailments in the body such as muscles aches, arthritis and headaches, it is a little known fact that that acupuncture can also be used to treat infertility.
Dr Roland Chieng, Director and Gynaecologist at Virtus Fertility Centre tells us more about how acupuncture can help one’s fertility.
1. What is acupuncture aided fertility?
Assessment of infertility by western medicine always done by looking at the following issues: Ovulation disorder, Tubal disorder and Male factor disorder.
However, there is a significant proportion of cases where all the above are normal based on currently available investigation techniques and procedures. This could be up to 15-25% of all cases. An alternative view such as TCM approach could be useful on top of available treatment modalities recommended for this group. The emphasis will be mainly in assessment of excessive vs. deficiency syndrome. Acupuncture treatment will be used to reduce the excessive state and to tonify the deficiency state. These are achieved by different needling techniques at the acupoints and meridians.
2. Who should undergo acupuncture aided fertility?
Acupuncture can be used for both male and female infertility. Initial assessment employing TCM diagnostic method including observation, listening/smelling, tougue and pulse assessment. This is followed by acupuncture treatment according to the disease pattern differentiation derived.
Careful selection of patients as mentioned above will be very important in order to optimise as well as not to delay cases where there were clear causes of infertility.
3. How exactly does acupuncture work in helping a woman get pregnant?
TCM approach to disease syndrome lies mainly in assessment of excessive and deficiency state based on the varied constitution of individuals. This is applied to infertile couples as well and treatment given on top of western approach of the condition.
TCM principles of disease are based on the presence of disharmony within the body system.
The aim of treatment will be to establish balance and calming this disharmony.
Acupuncture is one of these treatment methods. Others including herb and tuina can be utilised together to achieve faster or more favourable and results in some cases.
Ba Gong diagnostic is one of the most commonly used methods.
A. Interior / Exterior- this indicate the location of the disharmony
B. Hot / Cold
C. Excessive / Deficiency
D. Yin / Yang
-These balance can be achieved by acupuncture
4. What are the risks of undergoing acupuncture aided fertility?
Acupuncture is generally very safe if this is done properly, coupled with strict adherence to protocol. Occasionally fainting occurs during acupuncture session, this is generally due to nervousness, hunger or fatigue. In patients who has never done acupuncture before, special precautions will be necessary. Treatment is always given after meal or when the patient has consumed some food to prevent fainting. Stuck, bent or broken needles are some complications that could happen during the procedure but these are generally very rare. Occurrences of hematoma (collection of blood outside the blood vessels) or bruising as a result of needling and injury to blood vessels during insertion are usually mild and self-limiting.
5. What is the success rate of acupuncture aided fertility?
The success rate reported for acupuncture and infertility is very variable. There are studies that show very promising results, and also studies that show no difference in the pregnancy success. However the plus point of all these studies lies in the patient’s perception. Nearly all cases of patients who had undergone acupuncture during fertility treatment shared that they had better mental states and were calmer after the treatment.
By Dr Roland Chieng
Certified Specialist In Obstetrics And Gynaecology
Roland Chieng Fertility and Women Care
Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road #10-33 Singapore 329563
Tel: +65 6694 1833 | Fax: +65 6694 1823