What is infertility?

Conception is a complicated process that depends upon many factors. They include the production of healthy sperm by the man and healthy eggs by the woman; unblocked fallopian tubes that allow the sperm to reach the egg; the sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg when they meet; the ability of the fertilized egg (embryo) to become implanted in the woman’s uterus; and sufficient embryo quality.

Finally, for the pregnancy to continue to full term, the embryo must be healthy and the woman’s hormonal environment adequate for its development. When just one of these factors is impaired, infertility can result.

Causes of infertility.

About one-third of infertility cases can be attributed to male factors, and about one-third to women. For the remaining one-third of infertile couples, infertility is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or, in about 20% of cases, is unexplained.

The most common male infertility factors include azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced) and oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced). Sometimes, sperm cells are malformed or they die before they can reach the egg. In rare cases, infertility in men is caused by a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality.

The most common female infertility factor is an ovulation disorder. Other causes of female infertility include blocked fallopian tubes, which can occur when a woman has had pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis (a sometimes painful condition causing adhesions and cysts). Congenital anomalies (birth defects) involving the structure of the uterus and uterine fibroids are associated with repeated miscarriages.

How acupuncture or herbal medicine helps fertility problems?

There are only few researches done on studying traditional Chinese Medicine & fertility although it has been applied in Asia for thousands of years. Lately, it is published by Fertility and Sterility in April 2002 reported a research and revealed that acupuncture had almost doubled the pregnancy rate on women who under go in-vitro fertilization (IVF) compared to the control group in that research.

Results from clinical outcome studies in China have shown effectiveness of acupuncture in promoting ovulation in secondary amenorrhea conditions.

A study of 45 infertile women suffering from oligomenorrhea or luteal insufficiency receiving acupuncture achieved comparable pregnancy rate as to various hormonal treatments. In animal studies, acupuncture is effective in inducing ovulation in cows.

Based on the data, though a small, selected population, acupuncture seems to potentially offer a viable alternative therapy for female infertility due to hormone disorders.
Acupuncture is only half of the story. In addition, Chinese medical practitioners rely heavily on herbal medicine for infertility. The combination of herbs and acupuncture is used to assist the natural method of conception, whether the cause of infertility involves the man or the women, or both.

In men, Chinese herbs can raise testosterone levels, sperm activity and sperm count. Chinese medicine for women can regulate hormones; stimulate ovulation and correct nutritional deficiencies that make sustaining a pregnancy difficult. The herbs make the body a “more hospitable environment” for the baby.

Does it work for me?

Acupuncture & Chinese herbal medicine treatment have been helping many male & female patients to have children. They are certainly reasonable natural modalities that have their potential to help. They can be used solely or in conjunction with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and fertility drugs. In the western clinical setting, it is not uncommon to see patients use TCM in conjunction with fertility drug and ART. However, “It works for many” doesn’t equal to “it works for you”. As for you, there is only one way to find out.

Where will I get needles? Is it painful?

Each individual will receive needles according to their underlying conditions and body’s constitution. Most of the acupuncture points don’t hurt. Patients will have a mosquito bite feeling instead. There are some points tend to hurt more than the others. We would do it carefully to avoid the discomforts.

How much does it cost?

We charge $85 per acupuncture session. There is a $45 initial consultation fee in addition to the treatment fee. All fees above are subject to change without notice. Please call 403-233-0498 for current rate. Herbal medicine costs $9-$15 per day.

Does Alberta Health Care cover it?

Alberta Health Care does not cover acupuncture. However, most company benefits cover acupuncture when treatment is provided through a Registered Acupuncturist. You may contact human resources department or the insurance company for the details, including the coverage amount for each session, and a year, what the cut off day of the year is, if a medical referral is required etc..