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Does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Still Have a Place in Modern Medicine?

By Published On: May 10th, 2012

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around as early as 250B.C. Over the years, refinements to the skills and knowledge of TCM have been made. There appears to be a growing trend of couples who seek TCM for fertility treatment, even though there exists Westernized treatments such as IVF. Thus, what advantage does TCM offer over Western medicine and is it still applicable in modern medicine?

When it comes to fertility treatment, TCM believes that imbalances in the body disrupts fertility. Treatment process often involves acupuncture, herbs and and special massages that balances the body’s condition to boost fertility.

Acupuncture, along with other TCM treatments, has been found to improve ovulation cycles even in women with ovarian disorders. The lining of the uterus is improved, which allows an embryo to embed itself easily to absorb the nourishment it needs to develop. This is similar to planting a seed. The uterus lining is like the soil in a garden. If it is rich in nutrients, the seed will germinate and grow.

Some physicians have suggested using TCM together with western fertility treatments. Some physicians may use only acupuncture when other fertility drugs have already been prescribed to prevent interference of both treatments.

Some couples seek TCM because they have already failed several attempts of IVF and were referred to use TCM to condition the body before attempting another round of IVF. TCM treatments have been found to increase the success rate of IVF by 30% to 40%. For many couples who have been trying for years to conceive, this is a significant figure that can offer them a sense of hope to (finally) conceive. A study published in 2002 by Fertility and Sterility has indeed supported this claim. Acupuncture was able to increase pregnancy rates through IVF by 40%. Acupuncture boosts the production of endorphins, which are known as “feel good” hormones. These play an essential role in regulating menstrual cycle which therefore improves fertility.

Acupuncture that is directed in treating fertility problems should produce the following benefits:

  • Reduces stress hormones that affect ovulation
  • Promotes blood flow through the reproductive system
  • Increases “feel good” hormones also known as endorphins
  • Stimulates and normalizes hormone production
  • Improves the quality of eggs released by the ovaries
  • Enhances the uterine lining
  • Enhances the quality of the cervical mucus

If a couple is considering a combined approach of western and eastern medicine, a good working relationship between both physicians is essential. They need to respect the medical perspectives of another and agree on a method that can best benefit the couple. It is also important to let the doctor know that you are undergoing TCM herbal treatment as Western drugs may interfere with the effects of the Chinese herbs.

It is important to highlight that TCM alone is sufficient to treat fertility issues, especially if a couple is young and still can wait. TCM is not a miracle, and may require months of treatment before the reproductive system can be balanced. Once there is a regulation of the menstrual cycle, a couple may then consider conceiving naturally before seeking artificial fertility treatment from Western doctors. It is hard for modern medicine to ignore the benefits of TCM, as it offers a natural holistic approach towards conception and pregnancy.