We have helped bring hundreds of healthy babies into this world. Sometimes it’s a breeze! We nourish the right bodies in the right ways at the right time, and the perfect baby arrives.
Other times the process is harder: would-be parent(s) may come to us with years-long health challenges that have prevented them from conceiving. We work with each person to address their unique needs, for months or sometimes even a couple years, until step by step they restore their fertility, the right day comes, and the perfect baby arrives.
Anyone on the fertility journey already knows the news isn’t good: Infertility is a shockingly common problem in our modern world, affecting more than 20% of people in the U.S. who are trying to conceive (www.cdc.gov).
The problems can stem from multiple sources, both male and female: sperm count or quality, varicoceles, ejaculations disorders; ovary, uterine, and cervical problems, endometriosis, PCOS; auto-immune disease and diabetes frequently complicate fertility problems.
It’s a lot to navigate, and you’re supposed to do it while keeping your cool, because stress is bad for fertility!? How does one do that? This is where we get to help.
How can Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM) enhance Fertility?
Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM) has long been known to treat both female and male infertility (Zhu et al 2018, Feng et al 2021). Fertility treatments at Meridian Health Solutions aim to create healthy sperm, healthy eggs, a welcoming womb environment, and an open heart.
Treatments use a combination of herbal medicine, acupuncture, and diet, which are tailored to each person’s unique needs. We counsel people on incorporating nutrient-dense “fertility foods” used by many traditional cultures. These tools reset you into overall better health so your fertility journey becomes an easier route.
Specifically, they improve blood flow to the reproductive organs, so the sperm, eggs, and endometrial lining grow into healthy terrain for creating and sustaining life. It’s our goal not only to help you have a child, but to have an extremely healthy child!
What if I have a medical issue and have to use ART?
Some medical causes of infertility can benefit greatly from Western medicine’s assisted reproductive technology (ART). ART is often a costly and invasive therapy, though it can help people have a baby when it would otherwise be impossible.
Many high-performing ART clinics have chosen to include Acupuncture as a part of their patients’ process, to help improve success rates.
Meridian Health Solutions practitioners can provide guidance and comfort through your ART process. We offer treatments to reduce side effects and improve outcomes. Reproductive endocrinologists even ask us to perform specific treatments to aid their process. For example, we can help one’s uterus less likely to spasm during egg retrieval so more eggs are available; or we can help to improve uterine lining quality for successful embryo transfer and implantation.
Most importantly, we help you manage this stressful time with information and tools that support your whole-person health.
What types of fertility-related medical issues can acupuncture help with?
- High FSH
- Difficulty with implantation/conception
- Recurrent miscarriage
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome/PCOS
- Thin uterine lining
- Sperm count, morphology, motility
- Side effects from Assisted Reproductive Technology/ART
- Poor response to IUI/IVF
How many sessions do I need?
Although not required, we suggest you begin therapy at least three months prior to trying to conceive, either naturally or with ART. Sperm development takes 70-90 days from start to finish; dormant egg cells take a comparable amount of time to mature; and it may take a few months to build up sufficient endometrial nutrients and balance hormones. To be fair, we have also helped many people conceive during this 3-month time frame. But we really think doing the groundwork is best.
Preparing your body for conception truly makes a difference! Our experience is that patients who do this have easier pregnancies with fewer complications – these are the people with that gorgeous “pregnancy glow” who just feel great.
What happens during a session?
During the initial visit we discuss your medical and fertility history, menstrual history, and perform a physical examination. The physical examination consists of checking your pulse on your wrists, looking at the tongue, and diagnostic palpations, which gently checks specific reflex zones on the abdomen, neck, hands, and feet. The palpation offers further insights into the exact nature of the condition.
The resulting treatment plan may consist of acupuncture, custom tailored herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, daily basal body temperature charting according to the Fertility Awareness Method (Ehling/Singer, 2001), dietary adjustments, a movement plan, and stress reduction techniques.
We believe that all people should have access to fertility treatments irrespective of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender. We love working with members of our queer community. Meridian Health Solutions strives to be an accessible resource and advocate for our patients as they go through ART processes such as IVF and IUI. Every person’s fertility journey is unique, important, and valid. We are honored to see each whole person and walk with them on the journey.
- Alternative medicine addresses many underlying causes of infertility, Feng J, Wang J, Zhang Y, Zhang Y, Jia L, Zhang D, Zhang J, Han Y, Luo S. The Efficacy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the Treatment of Female Infertility. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021 Apr 23;2021:6634309. doi: 10.1155/2021/6634309. PMID: 33986820; PMCID: PMC8093064.
- Acupuncture great for male and female infertility, Zhu J, Arsovska B, Kozovska K. Acupuncture Treatment for Fertility. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2018 Sep 19;6(9):1685-1687. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2018.379. PMID: 30337989; PMCID: PMC6182526.
- Pomeranz B. Acupuncture Analgesia-Basic Research, Stux G, Hammershlag R (eds), Clinical Acupuncture: Scientific Basis, Berlin:Springer-Verlag, 2001. pp. 1-29
- Stener-Victorin E. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertility women with electro-acupuncture. Human Reproduction, Vol.11, No.6, 1996. -- This study looked at women who had previously been diagnosed with a thin endometrial lining as a possible cause of fertility. The treatment group was given acupuncture for one month leading up to their IVF cycle and the uterine artery blood flow increased significantly within this time frame. This led to thicker endometrial lining in the treatment group versus the non-treatment group.
- Gerhard I. Gynecol Endocrinol. 1992;6(3):171-181. Infertility: Similar results to hormonal treatment but with fewer side effects.
- Emmons SL, Patton P. Acupuncture Treatment for infertile women undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Medical Acupuncture, A Journal for Physicians by Physicians, 2001 Vol. 12, No.2. – This study describes the use of acupuncture to stimulate follicle development in women undergoing in vitro fertilization. The case series included 6 women receiving intracytoplasmic sperm injection and acupuncture along with agents for ovarian stimulation. The results revealed no pregnancies occurred in the non-acupuncture cycles. Three women produced more follicles with acupuncture treatment (mean, 11.3 vs 3.9 prior to acupuncture; P=.005). All 3 women conceived, but only 1 pregnancy lasted past the 1st trimester. Acupuncture may be a useful adjunct to gonadotropin therapy to produce follicles in women undergoing in vitro fertilization. This study examined whether acupuncture stimulated follicle development in women undergoing IVF. The patients in the study had previously exhibited poor follicle development despite the use of gonadotropins. Acupuncture was used twice a week for 4 weeks leading up to egg retrieval the results showed that the non-treatment group had an average amount of 3.7 follicles whereas the acupuncture treatment group had an average of 8.4 follicles.
- Stener-Victorin E. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2000;79(3):180-8. Anovulation in PCOS: Electro-acupuncture appears to be useful to help stimulate ovulation in women with PCOS.
- Chang R, et al. Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Fertility and Sterility, Dec 2002;78(6): -- Literature review of existing scientific rationale and clinical data for acupuncture for female infertility. Findings included positive effects on the central nervous system, influences on gonatropin secretion, and effects on uterine blood flow which affects endometrial thickness and morphology all of which are relevant for implantation. Acupuncture showed also significant improvements on stress related to infertility.
- Paulus W, et al. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertility and Sterility, April 2002;77(4):721-4. -- This study found that in a group of 160 women 80 who were treated with acupuncture before and after the embryo transfer phase of IVF had a 42.5% pregnancy rate vs. a 26.3% pregnancy rate in the non-treatment group.
- Zheng CH et al. Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fertility and Sterility, 2012 [Epub] – This is a meta-analysis of 24 randomized clinical trials for acupuncture and IVF, involving 5,807 participants. Clinical pregnancy rates and live birth rates were significantly higher in acupuncture groups as compared to sham or control groups.
- Westergaard LG, Mao Q, Krogslun M, Sandrini S, Lenz S, Grinsted J. Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial. Fertil Steril, 2006 May;85(5):1341-6. – This study was a repeat of the Paulus study above showing 39% higher rates of pregnancy in the acupuncture treatment group.
- Smith C, Coyle M, Norman RJ. Influence of acupuncture stimulation on pregnancy rates for women undergoing embryo transfer. Fertil Steril, 2006 May;85(5):1352-8. -- In this single-blinded, randomized controlled trial using an acupuncture treatment group and a sham acupuncture group, the pregnancy rate was 31% in the acupuncture group vs. 23% in the control group. The ongoing pregnancy rate was higher in the treatment group: 28% vs. 18%.
- Magarelli PC, Cridennda DK, Cohen M. Changes in serum cortisol and prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer treatment. Fertil Steril 2009 Dec;92(6):1870-9.
- Sinclair S. Male Infertility: Nutritional and environmental considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Feb;5(1):28-38.
- Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Lederman H, Bartoov B. Does Acupuncture treatment affect sperm density in males with very low sperm counts? A pilot study. Andrologia. 2000, Jan;32(1):31-9. The treatment group showed a significant improvement in sperm counts when compared to the control group which did not receive treatment.
- Fischl F, Riegler R, Bieglmayer C, Nasr F, Neumark J. Modification of semen quality by acupuncture in subfertile males. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkunde, 1984 Aug;4498):510-2. – This study also looked at sperm counts and overall motility and morphology and found that the acupuncture treatment group showed significant higher counts when compared to the non-treatment group.
- Pei J, Strehler E, Noss U, et al. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertility and Sterility July 2005;84(1):141-7.
- Ehling D, Singer K. Gauging a Woman’s Health by her Fertility Signals: Integrating Western with Traditional Chinese Medical Observations. Altern Ther Health Med. 1999;5(6):70-83. An analysis of using Fertility Awareness Method in conjunction with Oriental Medicine. Full article on www.orientalhealthsolutions.com/resources
- Soni S, Badawy SZ. Celiac disease and its effect on human reproduction: a Review: J Reprod Med. 2010 Jan-Feb;55(1-2):3-8
- Levine H, Jørgensen N, Martino-Andrade A, Mendiola J, Weksler-Derri D, Jolles M, Pinotti R, Swan SH. Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis of samples collected globally in the 20th and 21st centuries. Hum Reprod Update. 2023 Mar 1;29(2):157-176. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmac035. PMID: 36377604.