The definition of infertility is usually the failure to conceive after 1 year of unprotected intercourse (European Society 1996). Infertility can be classified as either: Primary, (women who have never conceived), or Secondary, (women who have previously conceived).
There are about 10–20% of infertility cases that are unexplained (Isaksson 2004). The rest are the result of ovulatory failure (27%), tubal damage (14%), endometriosis (5%), low sperm count or quality (19%), or other causes (5%) (Effective Health Care 1992).
In developed countries, 95% of couples attempting to conceive are successful after 2 years (Brosens 2004). However, the chances of becoming pregnant vary with the cause and duration of infertility, the woman's age, the woman's previous pregnancy history, and the availability of different treatment options (Templeton 1998, Collins 1995). For the first 2–3 years of unexplained infertility, cumulative conception rates are 27-46% but decrease with increasing age of the woman and duration of infertility (Collins 1995).
Infertility is not only a female problem, men may have issues too. Many cases of infertility can involve both the male and female. Although this issue can be both mentally and emotionally 'draining', the good news is a large majority of cases can be treated, either naturally or medically.
The aim of infertility treatment in conventional medicine is to achieve the delivery of one healthy baby, and to reduce the distress associated with infertility with minimal adverse effects. Interventions include; intrauterine insemination plus controlled ovarian stimulation, in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, gonadotrophin releasing hormone agonists, clomifene and tamoxifen, laparoscopic ovarian drilling, tubal flushing and laparoscopic ablation of endometrial deposits. The procedure used depends on the cause of the infertility (Al-Inany 2004).
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history uses acupuncture and herbal medicine to promote fertility. The earliest records of treating infertility with TCM were published in 200 A.D. in the famous medical classics - Treatise on Febrile Diseases. In 1237 A.D., the first gynaecology book in record The Complete Book of Effective Prescriptions for Diseases of Women was published.
According to the TCM theories, infertility can be caused by several types of TCM syndromes, such as:
- organ deficiency in the kidney and liver, which disrupts the endocrine system. This creates an imbalance of hormones in the body, making sexual reproduction impossible.
- stagnant qi (energy) and Blood; this lack of circulation stymies sexual reproduction even though hormone levels are normal. Blood stagnation is commonly found in women's bodies as endometriosis, which can also be treated through the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
- damp-heat syndrome can cause infertility that makes internal systems function improperly. The presence of a damp-heat syndrome is much like inflammation and it causes blockage that must be relieved for sexual reproduction to be possible.
At Alberta College of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, our College Clinic has been having great success in helping both Female Infertility and Male Infertility patients. At ACATCM, we are committed to providing results-driven premier quality care to our patients, contact us now to make your dreams come true.