Traditional Chinese Medicine:
In order to more fully understand how acupuncture and infertility are related, it may be helpful to know the concepts that drive the idea. Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Unlike Western medical thought, TCM’s understanding of the human body is based on an understanding of the whole universe, founded in Daoism. TCM sees the entire body as a system (akin to the universe) that supports the zang fu organs, which are considered to be the core of the human body. Treatment of illness is based on this understanding of the universe and body, and an in-depth understanding of the particular patient. When studying these two things together, TCM practitioners diagnose patients based on the differentiation of syndromes.
Theory behind Infertility in TCM:
In Chinese medical theory, the Kidney is the internal organ which is responsible for reproduction, growth, and aging. When kidney energy is not sufficient to promote normal development many problems can result, including infertility. Kidney health deterioration is often attributed to factors such as poor diet and overworking or stressful conditions. According to TCM, kidney problems are the most common cause of infertility, trough there are possible other causes. TCM may treat for infertility based on emotional or hormonal problems that cause issues with the kidneys, or they may find that infertility is due to structural problems, depending on the diagnosis.
In TCM, treatment is not based only on the symptoms, but on differentiation of syndromes, as stated before. This means that people with an identical disease could be treated in different ways if they diseases result in different syndromes. On the other hand, people with different diseases that result in the same syndrome could be treated similarly. The difference between a disease and a syndrome is an important thing to understand then. A disease is a diagnosed impairment of health based on symptoms. A syndrome is a set of related signs and symptoms known to frequently appear together but without a known cause. A syndrome is really just a classification based on what the medical establishment understands.
Acupuncture as a TCM Treatment:
Acupuncture is a great example of the second of those two examples. It is used in TCM to treat many different ‘diseases’ including, but not limited to depression, psoriasis, IBS, pinched nerves, and infertility. When acupuncture first began being used in China, it was used to treat everything from the common cold and headaches to unknown diseases and plagues.
The practice of acupuncture and is based on 銅鑼灣中醫 the theory of meridians that presumes vital energy known as qi circulate together with blood throughout the body via a system of channels called meridians, connecting internal organs with external organs or tissues. The flow of qi and blood can theoretically be regulated by the stimulation of points on the surface of the body that are reached by meridians. This regulation of qi energy and blood is thought to treat diseases. There are over 300 acupoints, and the acupuncturist decides which acupoints to target based on the identified health problem.
As you can see, Traditional Chinese Medicine has a holistic view of medicine and diseases that is much different than most Western thought. Acupuncture students are required to take a series of courses that help them understand infertility from both Chinese and Western perspectives because this understanding is important. If you are considering pursuing acupuncture as part of your infertility treatment, ask if the practitioner has studied both TCM and Western medical interpretations of infertility to ensure optimal results.
Anna Short has developed expertise on infertility through a combination of personal experience and thoro