Does Acupuncture for Infertility Work?


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Does Acupuncture really cure infertility? Is it backed by research? What's the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to treat Infertility? Did you know that now that Western Medicine Doctor started referring their patients to Traditional Chinese Medicine? In this interview, we are lucky to have all these questions and doubts answered by Chinese Physician and Acupuncturist - Ms. Yali Lau, Bachelor of Medicine (TCM), Heilongjiang University of TCM, China.

GetDoc: Hi Ms. Yali, thank you for meeting us. To start off, can you tell us a little bit of your educational background?

Ms. Yali: Thank you. Initially I just wanted to attend a course about traditional Chinese Medicine herbs, but at the end of it, I "discovered" acupuncture by chance. I actually had a chance to experience acupuncture treatment performed by my teacher. During that treatment, the needle feeling was obvious when it poked in my hands. The treatment lasted only for 5 minutes, but there was one sensation that flew up to my shoulder and the effect lasted for half a day. This is what we called acanthesia or in layman term, pin prick sensation (针感).

After the amazing healing experience I went through with acupuncture, I was hungry to know more about Traditional Chinese Medicine, that’s why I decided to take up the 5-year course.

When I was in TCM 3rd year, I was infected by Chikungunya virus, Western Medicine doctors gave me vitamins, antibiotics and asked me to rest but it didn’t have effect, so I decided to take some Chinese medicine, only then the fever subsided. I am not sure why, but somehow upon recovering from the disease, I couldn’t raise my right hand. I went to Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic at my school. I was very impressed when I could raise up my hand immediately after my teacher put 4 needles: 3 on eyebrows, another one on hand.

Witnessing the healing effect myself, I was convinced that I had to quit my job and head to China to study more about the beauty of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

To become a qualified Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, we need to pass examinations. Besides attending lectures, passing exams, we also need to go to the clinic for practical sessions to put what we have learned on books into practice (practical training).

acupuncture for infertility

Ms. Yali explaining Endometriosis.



GetDoc: What services do you provide here at Xi Women’s Health TCM?

Ms. Yali: Majority of our patients come here to get treated for infertility. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a unique perspective on infertility issues, if a couple experiences infertility, the theory is that there is an imbalance in their bodies.  Traditional Chinese Medicine will find out the root cause of the problem and will work to restore and maintain the harmony, balance and order of the body.

 

GetDoc: What are the common causes of infertility?

Ms. Yali: There are a lot of reasons that can cause infertility, and we will find out the real reason to treat it. For example, a female patient who is always anxious, irritable, has poor quality of sleep, experiences irregular period. We look into a holistic approach to healing and ‘recondition’ her body that can help her to improve her chances of pregnancy.

Another commonly seen condition is Endometriosis (子宮內膜异位症), which is a results from the appearance of endometrial tissue outside the uterus and causes pelvic pain.  Endometriosis affects a woman’s reproductive organs when the lining cells of the uterus grow outside of it. It is a painful, chronic disease that affects woman’s fertility.

The other common disease that affects the chance of getting pregnant is Polycystic ovary syndrome - PCOS (多囊卵巢综合症).  Women with PCOS suffer from hormone imbalance which causes problems with menstruation and hence difficulty to get pregnant. It is called PCOS because small cysts grow in the ovaries of women who have PCOS.  Signs and symptoms of such diseases include sudden weight gain, extra hair on face and body, irregular periods. Until today, we do not know the cause of this disorder.

 

GetDoc: What is the difference in the approach of Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine in treating these diseases?

Ms. Yali: Traditional Chinese Medicine always chooses a more holistic approach when compared with western medicine. We see the human body as an integrated whole, which is always connected to nature, with a natural self-healing ability. We use organ manifestation and meridian as physiology and pathology, and syndrome differentiation as its diagnosis and treatment features.

acupuncture for infertility

Ms. Yali treated some infertility cases referred by Western Medicine doctors.



GetDoc: What will be your advice to those patients who are doubtful about TCM?

Ms. Yali: It is a broad range of medicine practice which has been used in China for over five thousand years. Traditional Chinese Medicine system for treating infertility is based on the accumulated experience of both patients and doctors.

There are numerous researches done on the use of acupuncture in conjunction with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). In Australia, Monash IVF is actually sending patients to an acupuncturist as acupuncture can increase the success of fertility treatment.

According to research, IVF average success rate is 25 – 35%. However, if you are doing IVF together with Traditional Chinese Medicine, you may increase the success rate up to 50%.

Other than acupuncture for infertility, we also use herbs to treat infertility. Herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment are all natural. We use leaves, roots, whole plants etc.


GetDoc: Is there an association that regulates Traditional Chinese Medicine in Malaysia?


Ms. Yali: There are 3 governing bodies, but Ministry of Health will gradually take over most of the functions when traditional medication rules are enforced.

I am lucky to have met my founders. They are certified doctors graduated from China. Besides working, I’m also constantly improving myself, for example, I was sent to Chengdu by ZhaoXi’s founder to learn gynecology.

acupuncture for infertility

Ms. Yali follows up with her patient regularly, trying her best to meet patients' goal.



GetDoc: Can you share with us some of the interesting cases that you have worked on?

Ms. Yali: I have a patient in her early 30s, who had one of her ovaries removed due to a disease. In her first attempt of egg transfer, she failed because implantation didn't occur. However, she didn’t give up and continued the treatment. She had the 2nd transfer a few months later and she is now 3 months pregnant.

We have also successfully treated male patients who have low sperm count.

Other than treatments, we also advise the patients to adjust their lifestyle, release their stress from work, and try to lead a relaxed lifestyle.


GetDoc: What if patients don’t want to change their lifestyles?


Ms. Yali: If you want to achieve your goal, you must change. If a male patient is a smoker, smoking will affect the sperm count and quality of the sperm as well, we will advise him to quit smoking. We do have some stubborn patients, however, what can we do is just do our best to advise them.

For our Muslim patients, we can’t change their diet habit. So we have to be flexible and think of creative ways, for example: avoid giving them animal based medicine.


GetDoc: How long should a patient stay with you to get treated?


Ms. Yali: We do not know the definite answer, it really differs from one case to another. I usually follow up with my patients once a week, as their body condition will change over time, and we will adjust the treatment accordingly.

acupuncture for infertility

Waiting room in ZhaoXi TCM Fertility Centre




GetDoc: What’s your approach to treating patients?


Ms. Yali: Our acupuncture tactic here is done in very soft way. Many patients find it acceptable as we don’t make it very painful.

Some people have misconception that more needles are needed for optimal result, but we don’t do it that way. More doesn’t mean it’s good.

For the herbs that we prescribe to our patients, we always keep up with the new findings about the herbs. We need to be very cautious as we are dealing with pregnant ladies also.

 

GetDoc: What makes Xi Women’s Health TCM centre different from others?

Ms. Yali: You can find a lot of drug stores outside with doctors who are not really registered, or well-trained.  We even have many infertility patients recommended by western doctors, like KL Fertility, Tropicana Medical Centre. We are seeing a shift as earlier they had questions about Traditional Chinese Medicine, let alone referring patients.

GetDoc: That is very impressive. Ok, on to our final question
, what can you tell us about infertility in men?

Ms. Yali: When a couple complains of infertility, a physician will investigate both partners and treat either or both as appropriate. Male related factors account for about 20-30% of problems in conception. Conditions affecting a man’s fertility include 1) sperm count, 2) motility of sperm, 3) progressive motility, 4) morphology

acupuncture for infertility

You may consult Ms. Yali Lau for men's and women's health


To know more about Ms Yali Lau, kindly check here

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by Qian

Qian's interest in healthcare industry came about after her father was diagnosed with bladder cancer. This experience has led her to become a strong believer in empowering individuals to take charge of their own health. View all articles by Qian.




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