Infertility is a common condition in the UK affecting one in six women and men. The causes in women may vary. There may be a functional problem, where the hormonal levels are abnormal; ovulation problems (e.g. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome accounts for about 70% of cases of female infertility); there may be an organic reason, such as inflammatory pelvic disease (PID) which causes infertility in 1 in 5 women; or Endometriosis (which accounts for at least 30% of female infertility cases). Over 25% of infertility cases are attributable to male infertility. 'Unexplained infertility' is the most common reason in both sexes, 35% of all infertility cases around the world are classified as 'unexplained'.
Inability to conceive after at least a year of regular sexual intercourse without the use of contraceptives, can be due to causes that lie either in the man or the woman or both. Identification of the underlying causes is the key to successful treatment. Infertility can often occur in women who have a history of conceiving and then losing the baby before the foetus is old enough to support itself outside the womb. Infertility can be either temporary or, in a small percentage of cases, permanent.
Conventional medicine offers many sophisticated tests and procedures to investigate and improve fertility and has been miraculous for some couples. However, the difficulty lies in treating individuals where there is a failure to conceive despite the reproductive organs appearing to work well.
Acupuncture has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on female infertility according to the World Health Organisation*.
According to Chinese Medicine theory acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be prescribed to treat unexplained infertility. Chinese Medicine believes every part and function of the body is inter-related, and assesses the entire individual not isolating infertility from the body’s other functions such as digestion and circulation, neither disregard problems relating to diet and lifestyle. Chinese medical theory often gives consideration to small signs and symptoms that Western medicine may regard as irrelevant. In Chinese medicine a reason for a part of the system not functioning may lie elsewhere. The most common diagnosis is a combination of Liver Energy stagnation, Kidney Energy deficiency, Blood stagnation, Blood deficiency, Spleen energy deficiency and/or Dampness. In Chinese medicine, the Kidney is the key organ responsible for reproduction.
FOR MUCH MORE DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT INFERTILITY PLEASE READ OUR INFERTILITY GUIDE.
For personalised advice on diet and lifestyle, please ask the doctor during your consultation. Please be reminded that we offer free online health advice.
Yu J et al. [Relationship of hand temperature and blood b-endorphin immunoreactive substance with electroacupuncture induction of ovulation.] Acupuncture Research, 1986, 11(2):86-90 [in Chinese].
Chen BY. Acupuncture normalized dysfunction of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research, 1997, 22:97-108.
Ji P et al. [Clinical study on acupuncture treatment of infertility due to inflammatory obstruction of fallopian tube.] Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1996, 16(9):469-470 [in Chinese].
A 38-year-old woman was diagnosed as infertile (ovarian failure, premature menopause) following 4 years of trying for a baby.During a 7-month period she visited five different gynaecological consultants and practitioners of various complementary therapies and also received nutritional advice. After identifying a dwindling egg reserve (F.S.H 70-85), some specialists strongly suggested that adoption was a most realistic alternative to bearing her own children. She also had two cysts removed from her abdominal wall and right ovary. Patches of endometriosis were cleared up and her fallopian tubes and ovaries were freed from adhesion to the abdominal wall.
Throughout all of the 7 months, the patient saw Dr Lily at the AcuMedic Centre and received acupuncture, herbal medicine and holistic advice. The patient’s symptoms included hot flushes, irregular menstrual periods and amenorrhoea.Dr Lily diagnosed Kidney deficiency and disharmony between Liver, Spleen and Stomach.
The diagnosis did not come as a surprise because the kidney is the foundation of all growth, development and sexual maturity. The Kidney is responsible for all the reproductive functioning of the body for a woman (and a man). The blood is the foundation of of all the physiological activity of the body and it is the Liver which stores the blood and regulates its amount and distribution. Hence the Liver is important in the menstrual cycle. The Spleen and Stoamch are responsible for producing blood (from food) which becomes the main source of menstruation.
After following the course of treatment prescribed by Dr Lily (which involved readjusting the acupuncture and herbal treatments accordingly), the patient’s condition changed and improved. The treatment resulted in the patient getting pregnant.
"In August 2004, I was diagnosed as having premature menopause. Prior to that, I had uterine fibroids which were removed in February 2002. After my blood test in August 2004, I was found to be pre-menopause. My GP told me there was nothing that can be done at this point, my hormone levels were all over the place. Even when I asked if there was someone else I could see for a different opinion. He said not in cases like these. My Oestrogen level was less than 100, FHS levels 68.6 and LH levels 34.4."
"All this came about because of the unbearable stress at work. I was experiencing dizzy spells, headaches, sleepless nights and then hot flushes which when they started were relentless and coming in at 30 minute intervals every hour every day for 5 months. I missed my periods. I started gaining weight at an alarming rate. I was feeling depressed, fatigued and had a loss of appetite. By the time Dr. Lily was recommended to me I was in my 4th month with no periods. I went to see a friend of mine who had been seeing Dr. Lily for the same thing and by that time she was pregnant. When I first met Dr. Lily, I was in my 5th month without periods and I was very worried, scared and felt hopeless and was not sure if she would be able to help. Dr. Lily was very friendly, warm and she asked all the right questions as the meeting progressed. I felt relaxed and more willing to give more information. She examined me and explained the treatment she proposed to use on me in clear detail. She also said the recovery time for the ovaries was at least 12 weeks. After only three visits with her the acupuncture and the herb treatment in a 7 week period my system started to function again my periods came back beating the predicted ovaries recovery period of 12 weeks."
"By November 30th, I had another blood test I went to see my GP again to get the results. He was very surprised to see that my wayward body had changed its mind and was behaving normally again the results were that my Oestrogen levels were well over 100, FHS levels 10.7 and LH levels 4.7."
"An incredible improvement to the last test results. The hot flushes had disappeared along with the dizzy spells and everything else that came with it. He asked me what caused the change? I said Dr. Lily and Chinese medicines and her confidence and faith. Now all I need is a good clean sperm and I will be on my way to become a mother."
'I am 36 years old and have been married eight and half years. As we wanted to have children, we did not use any contraception for years. We tried conceiving naturally for about 5 years but there was no sign of baby. We decided to find out what caused infertility and I then started to go to fertility clinic at St Mary?s hospital. I had several tests and alas cycle monitoring through ultrasound scan. I had laprascopy and Dye and Hysterascopy. Except from the result that the mobility of my husband?s sperm was a little bit low, there was no particular problems found. We were devastated and very frustrated. We decided not to have any further treatments, which were Ovarian stimulation and IVF and try to conceive naturally again.'
'I was referred by one of my friends who is a student of the AcuMedic Centre (the largest and longest-established Chinese medical organisation in Europe) to her teacher Dr. Lily who specialises in infertility problems.'
'Half believe or not (To certain extent I believed) that the herbs would work for my infertility, I made an appointment with Dr. Lily. Her approach was far more holistic and gave me a hope that I could establish a stage of good health before I become pregnant as I used to feel very tired all the time and found myself at a low energy level. I also had a weak digestive system therefore I wanted to improve it through treatment too. She diagnosed me as Qi and Yang deficiency through my tongue.'
'I started the herbs and acupuncture treatment and saw Dr. Lily once for every three or four weeks since then. I found acupuncture treatment was really relaxing but hated the taste of herbs in the beginning. I found gradually my energy was improved and really felt that Qi Tonic and the horrible taste herbs were working for boosting my health condition.?'
'On the 27th October I did a pregnancy test as my period was delayed for 6 days. The result was positive but I could not believe it. On the 3rd November, Dr. Lily diagnosed me as pregnant through my pulse and I was so happy to become pregnant! And now I am in week 18 of my healthy pregnancy.'
'During the course of the treatments, I feared that it could not happen to me even if my health condition would have improved, and thought I should stop the treatments many times. However I am so glad that I did not because I can see my health has really improved and also found very light morning sickness during my present pregnancy.'
'My sister who became pregnant 7 weeks after me and one of my friends who became pregnant 3 weeks after me both conceived naturally but have been suffering from bad morning sickness.'
'Dr. Lily?s holistic approach was extremely beneficial in that it enabled me to gain a sense of power and a determination to improve my health condition. I really appreciate her support and encouragement I have received.'
'I had a blood test in January 2004 that revealed my FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) level to be 58.4 consistent with peri-menopause/menopause. On March 30th my husband and I saw Dr. Ruth Curson of the Assisted Conception Unit at King?s College Hospital. I had been referred to the ACU by my GP following the January blood test result. Dr. Curson advised us that I had at best a 5 percent chance of conceiving and that we should consider alternatives such as donor eggs if we wished to have children.'
'It was devastating news as we both wanted to have children. In previous encounters with my GP I had received a shrug of the shoulders when I had asked the consequences of these FSH level on my fertility and how this might be happening to me at 37 years of age. She said she knew of only one case in her 25 years of practice where a woman has conceived and given birth after experiencing menopausal hormonal levels.'
'I was referred by Dr. Denning to her teacher Dr. Lily in AcuMedic Centre (the largest and longest-established Chinese medical organisation in Europe), who I saw on March 17th. In contrast Dr. Lily's approach was far more holistic and gave me hope that the menopause was not an inevitable outcome and that my reproductive system could recover. I started the herbs and acupuncture treatment on March 17th and saw
Dr. Lily every two or three weeks. My blood test on April 15th showed my FSH levels to be 7.1. I feel the herbs boosted my system both physically and mentally and allowed me to recover my health to such an extent that I fell pregnant almost immediately. My last period was on the 12th April and as I write I am in Week 16 of my pregnancy. In fact falling pregnant was the last thing I expected to happen following Dr. Curson's advice. It wasn?t until I did a pregnancy test on May 30th that I realized my condition. I had seen Dr. Lily on 19th May and she had diagnosed me as pregnant through my pulse. I avoided doing a pregnancy test for fear of discovering that I wasn?t pregnant and that therefore there must be something really wrong with me.'
'Dr. Lily's holistic approach was extremely beneficial in that it enabled me to gain a sense of power and a determination to improve my reproductive health. I cannot overstate the support and encouragement I have experienced in her care at a time of great stress. I also can?t emphasise enough the therapeutic benefit of being allowed to feel more relaxed and at ease about the issues of infertility and ageing: encouragement and hope rather than a counsel of despair.'
'I came because of 3yr infertility problem. Previously I was told that I had only 2-10 per cent chance of conceiving. IVF did not seem an alternative as my FSH was 22. I was very upset. In 3 months of Dr Lily's treatment I fell pregnant. I am now 28 weeks pregnant with a baby girl.'
'I came to AcuMedic with infertility problems in March. I was treated very professionally by the the doctors there, who prescribed herbal medicine. It made me feel so much better in myself and highlighted other problems I had i.e. weight, stress, bloatedness, anxiety. I fell pregnant in July in the same year, which I do not feel would have happened without treatment. My body was unhealthy and through taking the herbal medicine I am gradually bringing it back to normal health.'
'At the age of 38 I got married. My husband and I wanted to start a family straight away. After six months of trying I did not conceive. My instincts told me that something was wrong with me or my husband. I followed my instincts and saw my G.P. She was very supportive and suggested that due to my irregular periods which came when it felt like i.e. every 42-60 days she would work out an ideal time for me to try and conceive. Having done so this did not work either. I then went back to my GP after three months.'
'Prior to this I did some research on the internet about women finding it hard to conceive. Ipurchased a book that an American woman wrote about her issues and she provided sample information about conception. One thing that fascinated me about her conception was Chinese medication. She believed that the Chinese Acupuncture helped her to conceive, having had many miscarriages previously. I asked my doctor about Chinese Acupuncture and she recommended me to Dr Lily who was her previous teacher at AcuMedic in Camden Town.'
'I did not hesitate to contact Dr Lily for an appointment. However, my GP insisted that my husband took a sperm analysis test. This test would prove if the problem lied with him also. Well it did. The results came back and confirmed that 90% of his sperm was bad and we only had a 10 percent chance of conceiving. We were devastated, hence another knock back with our chances.'
'I went to see Dr Lily and she made me feel comfortable talking to her about my issues with conceiving. She took details from me about my husband and my working life as well as other personal details that would assess how she was going to help us with the right Chinese medication. She also recommended me to massage classes and acupuncture on alternative weeks. These remedies made me feel relaxed, and I felt a lot better within myself, hence a lot lighter and less tension.'
'My husband and I took the Chinese medication for seven months approx. After 4 months of Chinese medication my periods started to come monthly hence the 12th of every month without fail. Three months after that I fell pregnant. I was in disbelief as I thought my period was late due to its irregularity starting all over again. At the time of testing I was at work and confided to my colleague about my issues with conceiving and told her I think my periods are becoming irregular again. My colleague persuaded me to buy a pregnancy test kit. I did not. I was too afraid of the results saying negative. Eventually I gave in and took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I was overwhelmed but it did not sink in until I went to my GP for confirmation. I was 10 weeks gone. I couldn?t wait to share the news with my husband. I went home that evening smiling from ear to ear and shared the news with my husband. He was over the moon. We were on cloud nine as the Chinese medication helped to boost his sperm and regulate my period without any major fertility treatment as suggested by our GP.'
'I continued with the acupuncture, the massage classes and the Chinese medication throughout my pregnancy and this helped me immensely. I felt relaxed, healthy and protected from any misfortunes. My GP was in the midst of referring my husband and me to the fertility clinic, but the wonders of Chinese medicine made it possible for us not to attend. This was a big relief to the both of us. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on Sunday 28th June weighing a healthy 8lbs 13oz at birth.'
This patient got married two years ago. He and his wife could not conceive. The following results show analysis of his sperm before and after treatment at AcuMedic.
DENSITY: 2.1 x 10 /ml (Normal is above 20 x 10 /ml)
MOTILITY: 13 per cent (Normal is above 50 per cent)
ABNORMAL: 100 per cent (Normal is below 80 per cent)
VITALITY: 50 per cent (Normal is above 50 per cent)
MORPHOLOGY: 0 per cent
After treatment at AcuMedic:
DENSITY: 26 x 10 /ml (Normal is above 20 x 10 /ml)
MOTILITY: 35 per cent (Normal is above 50 per cent)
ABNORMAL: 60 per cent (Normal is below 80 per cent)
VITALITY: 75 per cent (Normal is above 50 per cent)
MORPHOLOGY: 30 percent
The couple successfully conceived.
“In my twenties I never gave having children a second thought, in my early thirties, the idea became of mild interest to me, but making this a reality was not on my life-radar. I guessed I would have one/some, some day. I don't recall the exact day it occurred to me that this was now something I really wanted, maybe a sunny day during my 37th year when I realised I wanted to have a family with the lovely man who had become part of my life. The time was not right for him, he had other goals, so I concluded it couldn't hurt to wait, could it?
My life was so full that time passed quickly. My career was amazing, rewarding, demanding & stressful, but I had reached to the ceiling of my ambitions, as Director of a company that I loved & nurtured. My every waking hour was focussed on this organisation, shaping it to be what I believed it's best. A path I saw as long & winding, difficult, but hugely satisfying and 'my life'.
Gradually it dawned on me, around my 38th birthday, that 'everyone' else had children, & that there was a lot of press & chatter about difficulties conceiving as an 'older woman'. With further research & subsequent shock, I realised that I WAS an 'older woman', the naïveté of this as I reflect, is quite astonishing. As a well educated person, supposedly fully participating in society, I had completely blanked out a whole section of life. I had never really discussed fertility with anyone before, or even seen the (now very obvious) multitude of advertisements across London for fertility clinics. With my family in another country, the only people I ever saw were other 'young' career focussed, city dwelling, professionals- and my life was a whirlwind.
So, I stopped, and panicked. I convinced my partner it was now, or never, and we began 'trying'. I still spoke to no-one, researched nothing, but I expected results. The months began to pass by quickly, every month that my PMT set in, deeply affected my psyche. I began to carry regret with me "...why had I waited so long...", and fear ..."what was wrong with me..."
I buried my head in the sand for a long time and kept my busy life running at top speed. Still expecting that something would just happen, I felt young & fit, pregnancy was just natural, surely?
As the months turned into a year, and more, I gradually started talking to people, my GP was of no assistance or support, so I began to speak candidly with friends and acquaintances. I was shocked by the stories people were telling me, infertility was widespread, and a painful part of life for many others. I was recommended, by a friend, to Dr. Lily of AcuMedic- who said "...she can make it happen", another enlightened me about IVF, & the fact that the NHS don't fund it after the age of 40, I was 39 by now. Others had me in tears talking about my options for adoption. I now knew I needed to do something more than 'trying', as my GP had suggested.
A deadline, and planning, was something I knew well, & relished in my professional life. I now felt I had to set myself some real personal deadlines and focus also on myself, instead of the company being my all. I quickly enrolled with the NHS fertility programme & discovered I would only get one free treatment due to the waiting list and my impending 40th birthday. So began the research into private IVF clinics, and the new news to me of my tiny statistical chance of having a live healthy baby. I had thought that becoming pregnant was the hurdle, and had not anticipated the shocking rate of miscarriage and birth defects that comes with being an 'older' woman. My experience of the IVF clinics was withering and test results confirmed that my reproductive system had declined to normal/ below average levels for my age. In my mind I began to accept that my 'fate' was not to be a mother. My partner was supportive of me and mostly disbelieving of the statistics we were being told, The statistics were dire! Fortunately somehow he still believed we could be parents and was unfailing in his support.
I decided that the next step was to meet the infamous Dr. Lily. I have always believed that non Western cultures have so much to offer us with respect to philosophy, and concluded that this 'other' knowledge may also have something to offer me medically. But I knew nothing of Chinese medicine, apart from an unfortunate incident in my youth involving misuse of tiger balm...I was a little skeptical, but desperate to be 'fixed', by any means.
So began an unforgettable journey with Dr Lily and her team. Initially I found the experience and treatments 'slow' I would have to say. I could not imagine that someone assessing my pulse and tongue was going to lead to any conclusion about my 'condition'. I was a terrible patient, I continued to work long hours, carried on with my diet of white wine for dinner, often. Had too few hours of sleep, sent work texts during appointments and definitely did not boil, or take, my herbs regularly. The reasons being that I could not stand the smell, and had not used my cooker in a very long time, ready meals or snacks were my back stop, cooking ANYTHING for longer than 5 minutes seemed like taking on a second job. Also, I flew abroad a lot, there was no taking a bag of dry herbs to a hotel option.
Consequently, I could see that I was frustrating this amazingly kind, patient and wise woman, and I was letting myself down, I couldn't see progress, and a few months had passed. I was accustomed to things happening with haste and immediacy. This seemed to be a solution for other people, not me.
Fortunately Dr Lily has huge amounts of grace and patience, and had probably encountered many others like me. She spoke to me about balance and the physical, emotional and psychological factors that may be distressing my system. I was ignoring my emotional and psychological state, I began to realise. I had been a workaholic, pretty much forever. Dr Lily prescribed me capsules, less effective than the 'real' herbs, but I began taking them religiously, and began to feel results. I also identified a window in my work life where I felt it would not be to the detriment of the company for me to take a three month sabbatical. My intention was to focus on becoming calm and happy and address my eating/ sleeping and fitness habits in order to get in the best shape possible for the private IVF treatments we had booked.
I felt as though a break from work to do this for me, would give me the emotional assurance that I had done everything I could to become a mother. My partner and I had agreed that we would do three rounds and then if unsuccessful, accept a child-free life. With huge trepidation, I asked the company owners if I could take a three month sabbatical to travel and pursue some personal goals and was amazed by their generous "yes".
So began the most wonderful three months, I travelled, read, relaxed, spent time with family and took care of myself like I never had before. I saw Dr Lily often, had many acupuncture sessions and delighted in boiling my herbs, and making my own food.
My optimism grew, and by the end of the three months, I was asking Dr Lily if I was 'better' yet, she smiled (as always) and with good humour and a twinkle in her eye told me I was making great progress. I was excited about returning to work, and starting IVF. I had reconciled with myself that I might not become a mother, and also learned to care for myself in a whole new way. I felt I had a company, full of amazing and talented people, to care for, if there would be no baby in my future.
It was a sunny day in Vienna, two days before I was to return to work, that I got a message from the office that they would like to delay my return date, as "...people were a bit busy...". I quickly called the owners, curious about this odd message from a relatively new person in the company. My calls were met with silence, I carried my shopping bags of the new work outfits for my new figure back to my accommodation with a growing horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. To cut a long story short, and it is still painful to recall, I was not welcome back.
I felt like my world fell apart. I spent the next month dealing with lawyers and crying a lot. I saw Dr Lily often and was supported immensely by her treatments. Having previously suffered depression, it could have been a default to slip back into a state that had crippled me once before. I found strength I did not realise I had, through the support of AcuMedic. I cancelled my medical treatments, knowing that my body was simply not in the right place to create new life. As the month drew to an end I decided to seek closure on the legal process. I still felt I had a deadline, my 40th birthday was fast approaching and I needed to space out IVF treatments to culminate in my NHS slot. I walked away from the company with a heavy heart and many unanswered questions, but was determined to move forward.
It was a strange day at a clinic in Harley Street that began a new hope. We had a distressing consultation where we were reminded of our statistical odds. I could see my partners mind calculating the costs-vs-odds and accounting for my newly unemployed status after an unpaid three months leave, it felt bad.
But after this, I had a scan at this clinic, a very detailed scan with a woman who radiated sparkle, she was astonished with the readings she was getting for blood flow and all the things inside that constitute a very receptive environment to nurture a foetus. With delight she told me I had two 'wonderful' looking healthy eggs, and asked if I had been taking fertility drugs, to which I replied no, but I have been taking Chinese herbs, "amazing" she said. I left the clinic floating on air, Western medicine with all the gadgets and digital readings had now confirmed that my insides were now wonderful. The next appointment at the IVF clinic was in a week, to commence the treatment, the sonographer said she did not expect to see me back. And sure enough, I never went back.
With fear, I took a pregnancy test the next week, the pain of all the negative results I had taken each month before, was ever present. I got a positive before my period was even missed. I took tests for three more days before telling my partner, tried every brand, I was in shock. The poor man received texted photos of my tests whilst on public transport with colleagues in the U.S. Dr Lily knew immediately from my pulse, and she and her team were the most amazing people to share my news with.
It had happened, I was naturally pregnant, and it had occurred within a periodof immense emotional distress. I began to feel resilient and positive and resolved to holding on to this baby with all my heart. Shortly after, and not to my great surprise (I really felt like both of the eggs I had seen deserved a life) a scan revealed my twins! And so began my morning sickness. It was not long before I came across the term 'hyperemesis gravidarum', this was the extreme version of morning sickness. My mother and sister had suffered morning sickness for the entire duration of their pregnancies, and it looked very much like this was to be my affliction also.
With multiple pregnancy, the hormone levels are even more elevated, and so I braced myself for a rough ride. Shortly into this rough ride, I began to despair, factoring in my age and this being a twin pregnancy, my chances of miscarriage were very high, a new goal, get to the 'relative safety' of a 12 week pregnancy. After nourishing myself with organic everything, freshly cooked by me for months, I was reduced to a 'diet' if you could call it that, of crisps and chocolate milk, very little water, not a vegetable or fruit in sight, this went on for many many weeks and was so distressing.
The radius of my world became tiny, the kitchen was off-limits (the smell of any food, or the hint that anything had ever been cooked made me sick), the bathroom was a difficult place, any scented product, including toothpaste, made me sick. The outside world largely disappeared, too many smells. Again I sought the help of AcuMedic, and made regular trips for acupuncture and capsules, I made it to 12 weeks and beyond. Then miraculously, my morning sickness abated at 19 weeks, never to return, I got half the pain my sister and mother endured! I kept contact with the Clinic, and had a wonderful second trimester, I suffered no emotional lows, swelling or other common pregnancy difficulties. Into my third trimester now, things are good, just a week from seeing our babies faces, I feel happy and heavy!
We owe our new family-to-be to the skill and care of Dr. Lily and her team. I will continue to seek out treatment via Chinese Medicine whenever I feel that my body or life are unbalanced. This is a powerful 'science' that is still somewhat mysterious to me, but that I can fully attest to delivering astonishing results.”