FERTILITY

PREGNANCY

ADVANCED FERTILITY TREATMENT PROGRAM

Only a few TCM therapists with Master’s degree work in Switzerland. With intensive specialized education of fertility and gynecology, I provide Advanced Fertility Treatment Program combining best of acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Western Medicine. It is not same as generic acupuncture treatment.

 

IVF, IUI, FET, ICSI

I can not only help you improve your success rate, I can also help you interview and select an IVF clinic and navigate the fertility treatment process from start to finish.

Improve Your Success Rate

A landmark study in 2004 found that acupuncture can increase the success rate of IVF by 61%. These findings introduced the Western world to the effectiveness of Chinese Medicine in treating infertility.

Clinical pregnancies were documented in 34 of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3% (21 out of 80 patients) in the control group.

Since then, numerous studies have been conducted to determine the best TCM treatment protocols.

I utilize the most recent research to decide the best acupuncture points to needle and the frequency and timing of acupuncture, as well  herbal medicine formulas and supplements to achieve the best pregnancy and successful delivery for you and your baby.

Each of these practices is modified according to the TCM diagnoses, which is based on what procedures you are undergoing (IUI, IVF, FET), what hormonal medication you are taking, the age of the embryo to transfer (3-day, 4-day, 5-day), and the cause of infertility (age related, PCO, endometoriosis etc.).

Use of electric acupuncture is a must. The electric stimulation to the acupuncture needles facilitates the blood flow to your ovaries, feeding your immature eggs with more nutrients and oxygen to help them grow into good quality eggs.

In conclusion, the present study showed that low-frequency Electric Acupuncture stimulation increases ovarian blood flow as a reflex response via the ovarian sympathetic nerves.

Interviewing and Selecting an IVF Clinic

IVF is very expensive investment, especially in Switzerland, where it costs anywhere from 9,000 fr to 15,000 fr. You may be wondering if the old adage that “you get what you pay for” applies to IVF.

Unfortunately, Swiss laws regarding reproductive technologies are outdated in comparison to other EU countries, and the advance of techniques is slow. Therefore, for many patients, oversea clinics (in London, Madrid, Prague, etc.) are better and more economical choices.

A good IVF clinic will do all the necessary testing, including checking to see if you have a gene mutation that affects how your body utilizes folic acid and folate (it is estimated that about 40% of the population have this mutation). A good doctor will adjust your protocol based on your conditions, such as your AMH level, presence of endometriosis, and what type of PCOS you have.

I will help you with the questions you need to ask when interviewing your clinics to select a competent doctor. I can also recommend overseas fertility clinics with good success rates.

As Your Fertility Treatment Concierge

Navigating the fertility treatment process is stressful. It involves a lot of medications and procedures that you may not understand completely even when you’re told you need them.  doctors are very busy, and they cannot spend a lot of time explaining each procedure to every patient.

This is one of the ways in which my services can help. Every step of the way, I can explain where you are and what you are doing and help you understand what is going on. Additionally, I can help you prepare for a variety of side effects that you might experience. And, when your body is infused with hormonal drugs and you feel overwhelmed and stressed out, acupuncture can sooth your mind and alleviate negative side effects, lowering your cortisol level for an increased chance of success.

 

PCO / PCOS (polycystic ovary)

PCO is a syndrome (a set of medical signs and symptoms) characterized by non-ovulation, hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, acne, and other symptoms. Many women also experience PCO after stopping contraceptive pills. Essentially, the term PCO is not well defined, so a variety of non-ovulatory disorders fall under the general category of PCO.

Up to 30% of infertility cases are caused by PCO (polycystic ovary).

While IVF doctors can induce ovulation hormonally, in TCM we believe it’s best to treat the root cause of PCO before getting pregnant because women with PCO have a higher risk of pregnancy and delivery complications.

These include a three-fold increase in miscarriage risk, gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) which can lead to large babies, preeclampsia which is characterized by sudden elevated blood pressure and body swelling after the 20th week of pregnancy, preterm birth, and C-section delivery.

TCM can help by doing the following:

  • Treating the TCM root cause of your PCO, such as blood deficiency or (to balance your health)
  • Normalizing your hormone imbalance problems, which might include Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), LH, androgen hormones, and cortisol
  • Stimulating ovulation naturally with electric acupuncture

Although PCO has different types, Western medicine only offers a one-size-fits-all treatment with hormone medications and/or a diabetes drug.

In contrast, TCM approaches these different causes seriously and treats each individually. I begin by analyzing your blood test, AMH level, and other hormone levels, as well as your lifestyle, in order to determine what type of PCO you have. Each type requires different acupuncture treatments, Chinese herbal prescriptions, and supplements.

 

Premature Ovarian Failure (Low AMH)

Premature ovarian failure, primary ovarian insufficiency, diminished ovarian reserve, and advanced maternal age are all different names for same problem, which is that your ovaries are bit too tired (for your age). Although the causes remain unknown, incidents of this problem are increasing worldwide.

Usually, the doctor will tell you that “your AMH is too low.” The amount of AMH, or anti-Müllerian hormone, is a good indicator of the amount of immature eggs left in your ovaries. When the number is low, it is believed that your chance of pregnancy is also low.

What TCM can do is reverse the ageing process of ovaries. For instance, one study found that acupuncture can double AMH.

The AMH levels in patients aged <38 years with DOR increased from 0.30 ± 0.26 ng/mL before treatment to 0.63 ± 0.59 ng/mL after treatment.  Acupuncture may provide an effective option for patients aged <38 years with DOR

Also, AMH indicates the quantity, not the quality of immature eggs left in your ovaries. To get pregnant, all you need is one good, quality egg, which TCM is very good at helping you produce.

My treatment for low AMH starts by carefully diagnosing your patterns in order to determine the appropriate acupuncture points, Chinese Herbal prescriptions, and supplements for your particular case.

 

Unexplained Infertility

You are young and healthy and have good AMH levels. There’s no tubal blockage or other disease, yet you still cannot conceive. Your gynecologist refers you to an IVF clinic, and IVF is recommended. What do you do?

With TCM, we can often uncover the cause of so-called “unexplained” infertility. Once a patient starts the TCM treatment with me and charts her basal body temperature (BBT), we often discover unusual patterns, such as no significant differences in temperature between the low temperature phase and the high temperature phase. Some women discover that their high temperature phase is not high enough and is unstable (which is called a “luteal phase defect”).

“Unexplained” infertility might also be due to luteinized unruptured follicle (LUF) syndrome. Although an IVF clinic might recommend IVF immediately, it is not always necessary at first. Most of the natural pregnancies at my practice are achieved by monitoring BBT and adjusting the acupuncture treatments and herbal prescriptions according to cycle days and symptoms, such as menstrual pain, non-presence of fertile cervical mucus, and unstable luteal phase. I have many patients who achieved natural pregnancy after repeated IVF failures.

Sometimes, after the IVF procedure, women are told that their follicles (egg shell) have no actual eggs (empty follicle syndrome (EFS). Often this is due to undiagnosed insulin resistance and thyroid dysfunction. Or, you might have a genetic condition called deficiency, which prevents your body from utilizing folic acid well.

TCM does not diagnose and treat infertility according to these Western terms and concepts. What we do is track and treat your TCM pattern. For instance, a yang deficiency pattern suggests that you might also suffer from hypothyroidism. Thus, treating your yang deficiency also treats your hypothyroidism.

In TCM, the most Careful diagnosis of your TCM pattern and adjusting the treatment accordingly is the important aspect of TCM treatment.

 

Endometriosis

The number of women who suffer from endometriosis is surprisingly high. It is estimated that up to 50% of infertile women have endometriosis. Both endometriosis and adenomatosis are very complicated conditions that are not well understood, but they occur when the tissue lining the inner cavity of the uterus migrates to other part of your body such as intestine, bladder and sometimes even to lungs.

Although the causes are still unknown and western medicine has not found the cure, there is a genetic correlation and the imbalance of immune response is strongly suspected.

Western treatments include surgery or hormone treatments (contraceptives or induced menopause) to control the symptoms or repair the damage.

For patients who wish to have a child, endometriosis is a big obstacle for the following reasons:

  • You cannot get pregnant if you are on a contraceptive or have chemically induced menopause.
  • It is estimated that 40% of endometriosis patients have difficulty getting pregnant (subfertility).
  • IVF success rates for endometriosis patients are low (20-50% less than other patients).

While TCM cannot cure endometriosis completely, it can mitigate your immune response and ease the pain and heavy bleeding to optimize your body for conception.

I start the treatment with a thorough diagnosis to determine your TCM pattern, such as Qi deficiency, blood stagnation, etc.

In a particularly surprising case, one of my endometriosis patient had achieved a natural pregnancy with TCM. This happened after she had been told it would be “impossible to get naturally pregnant because of your fallopian tube is blocked with endometriosis tissue” by her IVF clinic!

This episode indeed highlights what TCM can do.

 

Fibroids / Cysts / Myoma

Just like endometriosis, fibroids and cysts are hormone-dependent diseases (certain hormones stimulate the growth), and Western medical treatments are also hormone treatments (contraceptives or induced menopause) to control the symptoms of bleeding or pain and surgery to remove if necessary. Also like endometriosis, the causes of fibroids and cysts remain unknown and there is no cure, although there is a strong genetic correlation.

I follow a very well-known Chinse doctor who has been studying uterine fibrosis for 2 generations (his father was a gynecologist and studied fibrosis). If you do not wish to get pregnant, I treat your symptoms by calming down your hormone levels to reduce the growth of the fibroids.

If you wish to get pregnant and your doctor has confirmed that the size and location of the fibroids will not cause problems for your pregnancy, treatments and prescriptions are adjusted according to your cycle days and symptoms in order to balance your hormones and decrease your symptoms to optimize your body to get pregnant (Many Chinese herbs are so-called “adaptogen,” which means that they increase hormones when they’re lacking and decrease the same hormones when they’re too high.).

 

Male Infertility

Over the past 40 years, men’s sperm count has dropped by more than 50% in Western countries. According to a recent study published in Human Reproduction Update:

Sperm counts among men in Western countries, including men in North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, have dropped substantially over the years. According to study authors, in less than 40 years, collective sperm count among this group of men has declined more than 50%.

No research has found the exact cause, but it is suspected that “environment and lifestyle factors, including prenatal chemical exposures, adult pesticide exposures, smoking, stress and obesity” are related to this drop.

Although many doctors simply recommend IVF, believing “all we need is one good sperm,” the success rate for IVF is not good when normal sperm morphology (percentage of normal-shaped sperm) is low.

Sperm morphology affects the outcome of IVF. There is no significant influence of sperm morphology on the outcome of ICSI. ICSI is an optimal alternative for patients with abnormal morphological sperms in ART.

Therefore, costly ICSI will be a better option than IVF if you decide to have FERTILITY TREATMENT (medically assisted reproduction).

The important features of semen quality are as follow:

  • normal shape (morphology)
  • enough number (sperm count)
  • move well (sperm motility)
  • integrity of the DNA the sperm carries

There are many studies showing that acupuncture, supplements, and Chinese herbs can increase semen quality.

The results showed that the total effective rate in the acupuncture-herb group was 90%; while that of the control group was 64%, the comparison showing a statistically significant difference (P<0.05).

TCM treatments include acupuncture, supplements, and Chinese herbs. Supplements are selected based on the lab analysis. Chinese herbs and acupuncture protocols are customized for your TCM diagnosis.

For instance, if you have varicose, you will most likely be treated for blood stagnation using acupuncture and Chinese herbs. If you have a low sperm count, zinc and other supplements are added.

 

Breech Baby

While the ability of TCM to turn a breech baby is not known in the Western world, it is the most well-known aspect of TCM in Japan.

Unfortunately, I cannot cite research because not much has been done in this area. However, I have often been successful in turning a baby in a matter of days, which never ceases to amaze me. When you are faced with a C-section, TCM is a quite safe and economical option.

It’s best if you come to me as soon as the breech position is confirmed. The sooner you come, the greater our chances of effectively turning your baby. I will do acupuncture and give you homework and exercises to do when you leave.