Infertility is the inability to conceive after regular unprotected sexual intercourse for two years in the absence of known reproductive pathology. In some countries, reproductive endocrinologists may also consider a couple to be infertile if the couple has not conceived after 12 months of contraceptive-free intercourse if the female is under the age of 34, or the couple has not conceived after 6 months of contraceptive-free intercourse if the female is over the age of 35. Around one in six couples have problems conceiving naturally, and that this is predicted to rise to one in three in Europe over the next decade.
There are two types of Infertility: primary infertility and secondary infertility. Primary infertility means that the couple has never been able to conceive; secondary infertility is difficulty conceiving after already having conceived (either carried the pregnancy to term, or had a miscarriage).
There are many biological causes of female infertility, which are often very complicated. They may sometimes interfere with each other, while at other times several factors may coexist. Some of the causes are still not clear or have not been found. Therefore, it may be difficult to determine the definite cause of infertility in some cases. However, obstacle of ovulation including polycystic ovary or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), premature ovarian failure (POF), and endometriosis are often the causes of primary infertility, while fallopian tube obstruction, uterine and cervix problems are often the causes of secondary infertility. There are also some other factors may contribute to infertility, such as age, stress, living environment or climate changes, diet and lifestyle, radiotherapy and chemotherapy etc.
Assisted conception therapy (ACT) is the most advanced medical technology which may help infertile couples achieving pregnancy. However, the average success rate of IVF in the UK is only 29.6% for women under the age of 35, and this figure reduces dramatically for women aged over 35. Many Researches have shown that combine acupuncture with IVF can increase success rates significantly. A study published by the British Medical Journal in February 2008 concluded that women undergoing IVF who also have acupuncture improved their rates of pregnancy by 65% and live birth, substantially higher than those who did not have acupuncture.
The success of TCM in treating infertility can be found in early Chinese medical literatures dating back to the 11th Century AD. TCM states that infertility is ultimately associated with three organs: Kidney, Spleen and Liver. These internal organs are interconnected function units, if any of the organs dysfunction, fertility problems may appear. There are four major pathological patterns of infertility: deficiency of Spleen Qi and Kidney yang, accumulation of cold and damp in the uterus; insufficient Kidney yin with empty fire, Liver Qi stagnation with blood deficiency; deficiency of Qi and blood with accumulation of phlegm and damp; damp and heat together with blood stasis in the uterus. After a proper diagnosis, a prescription of acupuncture points selection and /or Chinese herbal mixture is made for each individual patient according to your pattern differentiation. TCM can treat infertility effectively on its own, or work alongside with IVF to improve the success rates.
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