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Natural Approaches to Infertility

At some point in our lives, many of us wish to have children. For some people, however, conceiving may be an unexpected challenge.
( [email protected] ) Apr 21, 2004 01:09 PM EDT

Infertility

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse. In the United States, approximately 1 in 5 couples are affected by infertility. Approximately 35% of infertility cases are due to sperm disorders, 30% are due to fallopian tube (the canal that the egg travels from the ovary to the uterus) disorders, 25% are due to ovary and cervix (passage between the uterus and vagina) disorder and 10% of cases remain unknown.

How to test

After one year without successful conception, you should consult a licensed healthcare provider to undergo a detailed physical examination, a review of your medical history and, in many cases, to undergo a series of tests. The most common test in men is a semen analysis, where a sperm count is conducted under a microscope to ensure the man is producing enough normal sperm and the sperm have good motility. Women are usually required to track ovulation through daily measurements of basal body temperature—an increase of 0.5˚C (0.9˚F) suggests ovulation. Women may also undergo blood tests for hormone levels and pelvic ultrasounds to rule out any problems with the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus.

Treatment

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), infertility is the result of weakness to the kidneys. Kidneys in TCM do not exactly represent the “kidneys” of western medicine. In TCM, the kidneys store essence [similar to Qi (pronounced Chi)] which governs birth, growth, reproduction and development. Treating kidney deficiency through acupuncture and other TCM techniques often helps with fertility problems.

In addition to acupuncture, there are a number of treatments and lifestyle changes for both men and women that may increase the ability to conceive.

Men

Do not wear tight fitting clothing and underwear—lose the “tighty whities” as they increase the temperature of the testicle region.

Avoid heat in the testicle region, such as hot tubs and sauna, as increased temperature lowers sperm count.

Avoid exposure to toxins, radiation, PCBs, solvents, pesticides, heavy metals and pollution as they may lead to abnormally shaped sperm.

Check that your prescription drugs do not lower your sperm count.