Acupuncture, frequently combined with herbal medicine, has been used for centuries to treat infertility. Recently several studies from Scandinavia, the U.S. and Israel have confirmed the positive role acupuncture has in combating infertility.

Stress is a recognized factor in reducing fertility. Because of the delicate balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and reproductive glands, stress can prevent ovulation entirely. Stress can also create spasms in both the fallopian tubes and the uterus, which can interfere with movement and implantation of a fertilized egg. By balancing body hormones and stimulating endorphins, acupuncture is a proven method of reducing stress.

Acupuncture may also help to get to the root cause of female infertility by balancing the endocrine system, changing hormone levels that could be disrupting the pituitary balance required by the reproductive cycle, and stimulating the hypothalamus to effectively balance the endocrine system and its hormones. Additionally, by directing blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, acupuncture can help thicken the lining of the uterus, increasing the chances of conception.

When conception requires more aggressive treatments, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF), traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can also play an important role. In fact, when used in conjunction with western fertility treatments, TCM increases conception rates significantly. A recent study from Tel Aviv University reports that when combining IVF with TCM treatments, 65.5 percent of the test group was able to conceive, compared with 39.4 percent of the control group who received no herbal or acupuncture therapy.

Clinical observations suggest that the most effective fertility treatments involve a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition and traditional medicine. The goal of an infertility treatment from a Chinese medicine perspective is not just to get pregnant, but to stay pregnant and to have a healthy baby. By providing better blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, there is a stronger chance for an egg to be nourished and carried to term.

TCM can help with much more than just conception. It can also help with morning sickness, nausea, aches and pains (low back pain, for example), anxiety preparation for birth, and insomnia, among other concerns. Also notable is that TCM produces few or no side effects and is quite safe.

Today, acupuncture and TCM are gaining a recognized place in helping couples conceive. Nutrition can also play a pivotal role (see more on page 24); therefore, consulting with a nutritionist or a naturopathic doctor can also be helpful.

Dr.Sheppard is the founder of AcQpoint Wellness Center in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 345.2200 or

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