Up to 50 % of infertile couples are turning to alternative therapies such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help boost their chances of conceiving and managing the stress that struggling with infertility creates Health and Wellness
A recent study from the Adelaide University titled "Efficacy of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine in the Management of Female Infertility: A Systematic Review" found that that "Chinese herbal therapy improved pregnancy rates as much as 2-fold in just a 4-month period in comparison with Western Medical fertility drug therapy or IVF."
Vancouver audiences have been able to learn more about this research at talks held periodically, entitled "Age and Fertility: Can You Turn Back the Reproductive Clock?" Dr. Lorne Brown, clinical director of Acubalance Wellness Centre, Vancouver's first Chinese Medicine fertility clinic, discusses how Chinese Herbal medicine and acupuncture can help optimize egg quality, regulate fertility hormones, and enhance the chance of pregnancy naturally or with IVF.
The research reviewed 30 earlier studies of over 1800 women with infertility and found that "Chinese Medicine achieved, on average, a 60% pregnancy rate over 4 months compared with 30% achieved with standard western drug treatment, or IVF over 12 months."
The study also found that the same improvement in pregnancy rates was true when Chinese herbal medicine was used alone or in conjunction with Western drugs or IVF.
Dr. Lorne Brown is delighted with this new study. "We have an integrated approach and work closely with western fertility specialists. Until now they have been concerned about combining Chinese herbal treatment with IVF. I hope that this study will convince them of the benefit of customized Chinese herbal treatment."
The cornerstone of traditional Chinese medicine for pregnancy is regulating the menstrual cycle, according to Brown. "We usually work with a woman for three to six months using herbal therapy and acupuncture to regulate her cycle. Often she ends up conceiving naturally, but this treatment can also help optimize her egg quality and the uterine lining, so she has a better chance of success with IVF."
With infertility on the rise, as more women delay starting their families, Chinese herbal treatments could be a natural, low cost alternative or adjunct to western fertility treatments. However, Brown always recommends that his patients see a fertility specialist and get a full fertility workup.
"There are some conditions like completely blocked fallopian tubes where IVF is the best option. Western reproductive medicine is brilliant at the mechanics of uniting egg and sperm and transferring the embryo. The advances in this area over the last 30 years have been tremendous. But where Chinese medicine and, in particular, herbal therapy shines is in balancing hormones, reducing stress and optimizing the health of the eggs and uterine lining. Chinese medicine is particularly helpful for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (a leading cause of infertility and anovulation) endometriosis, recurrent miscarriages and unexplained infertility."
Brown stresses that it is important to choose a licensed Doctor of Chinese Medicine with specialized training in Chinese Reproductive Medicine and with a good understanding of western reproductive medicine. He recommends looking for a practitioner who is board-certified by the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (http://www.aborm.org).
For more information on the free seminar "Age and Fertility: Can you Turn Back the Reproductive Clock?" go to the events section.