Many women opt to use acupuncture for egg freezing as a part of their process of prolonging fertility. This is because a woman in her forties can easily get pregnant when using an egg produced when she was in her 30´s. On the other hand, she can have difficulty getting pregnant with eggs produced later due to the decrease in egg quality we will discuss below. Once frozen, eggs remain fertile for years and can be used for in vitro fertilization whenever the woman so desires. Acupuncture for egg freezing is an easy way to improve your odds of success when using this amazing intervention.
In the field of fertility, Western medicine has truly reached incredible levels of success. Who would have imagined even 40 years ago that IVF would even exist let alone become such a common procedure? While for many women these interventions are immediately successful, there exists a large percentage of women who do not respond well to treatment. One reason for this is that western medicine does not yet have an effective means to increase egg quality leading up to a cycle of IVF or egg freezing. This is where Chinese medicine can play an effective role.
Chinese Medicine and its Application for Acupuncture for Egg Freezing
Chinese medicine looks at the human body as a whole. This means that it approaches the female fertility patient as much more than just a uterus and two ovaries. Due to this holistic view and by supporting the entire body system, Chinese medicine can create a better environment for the production of higher quality eggs. This is especially true in patients who have been diagnosed with reduced or low ovarian reserve
Regulating the Cycle
The first principle for creating enhanced fertility in Chinese medicine, is to regulate the woman´s menstrual cycle. This means a regular menstrual cycle of 26 to 32 days with ovulation occurring at day 12-18 preceded by egg white mucous. The luteal phase (the time between ovulation and menses) should last at least 12 days. The menses should be relatively pain-free with neither too little nor too much menstrual flow and be free of clots. PMS should be mild or non-existent. If all of these conditions are met we can be relatively sure that the normal hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle are proceeding as they should. This in turn creates the best quality eggs possible by bathing the ovaries in the correct levels of the necessary hormones.
If any of these conditions are not occurring, then the treatment will be to rectify these irregularities bringing the hormonal system back into balance. This is attained through the use of acupuncture, Chinese herbs and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. We will also look at hormonal blood tests and often use basal body temperature charting to get a deeper look at how the body´s hormonal system is functioning.
This goal of attaining balance in the hormonal system is usually attained in 3 months of treatment which is also the time frame in which follicles are in their final stage of maturation – when they are called antral follicles and therefore is the most effective period for increasing follicle growth and quality.
Chinese medicine is also highly effective during the period of artificial hormonal stimulation leading up to egg retrieval. Using acupuncture alone or the combination of herbs and acupuncture, we can maximize egg production during this time by increasing local blood flow, reducing stress hormones and providing the raw materials necessary for the production of better quality eggs.
One of the most important factors in both natural and assisted fertility is the quality of the woman´s eggs. While there is a lot we do not know about what makes up a quality egg, there are some factors we do know. The best predictor of egg quality is a woman´s age. For the reasons we will see below, as women age their egg quality tends to decrease. This though is relative because there are women who at 40 may produce eggs of the same quality as other women 5 or 10 years younger and vice-versa.
There are many factors which effect egg quality. Some of these are:
As we go through life the cells of our body are exposed to a number of processes, which slowly degrade their function and structure. We receive natural radiation at a low but constant level from the sun and our own planet. We also may receive different forms of radiation from other sources in our modern world, cell phones, cell and microwave towers, microwave ovens among many others. This radiation has the effect of occasionally altering the genes which command cells function and creation. When a gene is altered in a certain way the function of the cell can be severely affected. This is what happens to the human gametes – sperm and eggs. In the male this is not such a severe problem because sperm are constantly produced and only last about 60 days. Eggs on the other hand reside the ovaries through out ones entire life and thereby accumulate more defects.
As with all living things humans use oxygen to create energy in the body. This process generates as a by product highly reactive molecules called free radicals. When these free radicals interact with other molecules it causes chaos in the normal function of cells. Antioxidants cause these free radicals to become inert and stop them from effecting normal cell function.
The natural antioxidant effect of the liquid and cells surrounding the egg declines with age. Oxidation increases with age and can have serious effects on egg quality.
This process can be slowed by eating a diet high in antioxidants and by taking antioxidant supplements. Also high glucose levels and obesity also increase oxidation and should therefore be controlled.
The eggs are produced in what are called follicles inside the ovaries. The vast majority of a woman´s follicles are in the form of primordial follicles. These are tiny cells which go through a 9 month process of maturation before they are ready to be released in an ovulation. During this long process they are bathed in the hormones the body naturally produces throughout the entire menstrual cycle, such as FSH, LH, progesterone and estrogen. These hormones, we think, are extremely important in how well and in what number these follicles mature. If the hormones are imbalanced as happens often when during a woman´s late 30´s and early 40´s follicle and therefore egg production is effected.