Reproductive Health Information - Fertility Treatment
Treatment of Infertility in Vancouver
Acupuncture is well known for its potent effect on relieving stress. Many couples turn to acupuncture before and during their IVF cycles to help reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. During these stressful times, finding coping mechanisms that work for you is important to optimize your chances of conception.
When one is inflicted with high levels of stress the body reacts by flooding the blood with 'stress' chemicals that direct blood flow away from the reproductive organs. Blood is the messenger of nutrients, oxygen, and gonadotropic IVF medications to the developing eggs and uterine lining. This simple correlation emphasizes the need to manage stress and anxiety when trying to conceive and carry to term.
Generally, 1-2 treatments per week in the weeks leading up to embryo transfer help reduce stress and optimize the ovaries response to IVF.
See what women have to say about receiving acupuncture on the day of IVF embryo transfer
I was thankful for the treatment before and after the transfer. Because it was onsite, it was only a few feet a way, which meant more time to let the embryo "snuggle in". It greatly helped to relieve all the tension that I felt leading upto the transfer. Dr. Pentland was of course (and still is) a good sounding board and offered some great advice for the day of the transfer.
I found it to be relaxing and calmed me down a little. I was super nervous as not knowing what the outcome is going to be in a few weeks time especially since I have had treatment done many times and have been unsuccessful so thought I would give accupuncture a try as it is supposed to help with blood flow and all. Having the clinic onsite is great, helps decrease some of the stress of having to drive around to places and make it for the transfer on time. Thank you so much to Dr Pentland he was great!
Loved it ! Just having you there was calming for me because you've been there right from the beginning with us and it would have been weird if you hadn't been there. I went into the transfer very relaxed and I'm certain it contributed to our success.
Amazing service. Relaxing, great to be on site, all questions were answered. And successful, can't be better than that!
The acupuncture was helpful in that it was relaxing --- taking your mind off the transfer. The heated bed and blanket was quite nice as the room is somewhat cool. Overall... enjoyable experience.
I found the whole acupuncture experience to be very relaxing. I would highly recommend listening to the IVF meditation mp3 that Dr. Pentland suggested, before embryo transfer. It made what could have been a stressful day a very positive experience. I was also very appreciative that Dr. Pentland is on site at the PCRM clinic and that there was such a smooth transition to the embryo transfer procedure.
After 6 rounds of Clomid and a failed IVF cycle, I explored the option of IVF acupuncture for my second IVF cycle. Having acupuncture on my embryo transfer day gave me the confidence that my body and mind were at their epitome of relaxation. Also, having it done on site gave me the calming, positive and warm thoughts I was seeking for the moments leading up to my embryo transfer - and the relaxation right after. I am currently 22 weeks pregnant with twins. I truly believe Dr. Pentland's help has contributed to my success!
I enjoyed the service, it was quite relaxing to be in such nice surroundings, I particularly enjoyed the heating pad
It was relaxing during a stressful time. Great to have it next door. Nice to try and relax pre-transfer. You feel rushed with the procedure it's great to have the "down" time to relax and focus on the embryo transfer afterward.
When I first heard about a new acupuncture service on site at PCRM, I was so glad because of a convenience. I had a really great relaxing experience on the day of embryo transfer. In my opinion, it is very important to be comfortable on this day of treatment. I was surprised of the calm environment: warm bed and blanket, pleasant scent of essential oils and relaxing meditation. Many thanks to Dr. Spence Pentland.
Reduced egg supply, and or difficulty in egg development or recruitment, generally a sign of advanced maternal age. This condition is synonymous with premature ovarian failure, although this patient population is most often of younger maternal age.
Generally determined by high follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, a low antral follicle count (AFC), and changes in a woman's menstrual cycle.
Both Chinese and naturopathic medicine treat diminished ovarian reserve, generally with acupuncture, herbal therapy, supplements and vitamins, lifestyle counsel, current accepted fertility diet recommendations, and self massage techniques. When committed to fully, 3-12 months (depending on presentation of condition) of an individualized treatment plan deeply nourishes a woman's reproductive essence and optimizes her chances of conceiving with her own eggs either naturally of via IVF.
With this diagnosis, coupled with advanced maternal age, many women pause at the thought of waiting 3-12 months to attempt another IVF cycle. This is understandable. But, if these months are spent wisely, a 'turning back of the biological clock' effect takes place and moves the woman into a better circumstance as far as her reproductive potential is concerned.
That said, whatever a woman's choice may be as far as treatment options and protocols, the IVF Acupuncture Group doctors fully support that choice and will treat to the best of their abilities to optimize the given scenario.
From a scientific perspective, the answer to this question is unknown. BUT, what is known, is that hot foot baths in the evening help increase ovarian blood flow and decrease blood pressure, if done at a certain temperature.
Research shows that hot water foot baths (49 degrees celsius) is potentially very beneficial to a woman's fertility. So every night before bed, especially during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, women should give the feet some warm love! Run your hot water tap for 1 minute, most water furnaces are set to 49 degrees celsius (if it feels WAY too hot, check the temp on your hot water heater), and fill a container large enough to fit both feet, then kick back and relax for 15-20 minutes. This is a great time to do your castor/moxa packs as well.
It should be said, as an alternative answer to the original question, that if you ask a doctor of Chinese medicine the same question, the answer you will most likely hear is, 'yes, quite possibly'. Coldness from a Chinese medical perspective is evidence that a 'cold' state of the uterus and ovaries may be present. A cold uterus does not carry pregnancies well.
Dr. Pentland carries professional grade supplements. To each woman facing fertility challenges he recommends; Basic Prenatal, Q-Best 100 (coq10) , Vitamin D (all from Thorne Research, a company known for its research, quality, pure ingredients, & superior absorption), and Pro EPA omega fish oils (Nordic Naturals). Dr. Pentland also strongly recommends the Thorne Mediclear dietary cleanse to help reduce internal inflammation that may be impeding fertility potential, as well as a product called Phytoprophen, another Thorne Research product designed to modulate the bodies inflammatory processes, help heal tissue, and encourage circulation vital to ovarian, uterine, and testicular health. Below are the products available and information as to why these companies have been carefully chosen. ***To purchase visit Qi Integrated Health at 2618 w. broadway Vancouver (map & details), or contact Dr. Pentland directly to place an order and arrange pick up.
Mediclear Dietary Cleanse
*rice protein, pea protein, and accessory nutrients to support liver detoxification.
*a complete dietary supplement for pregnant and lactating women.
CoQ10 Q-Best 100
*New Crystal free form for superior absorption. Improve both sperm and egg quality.
Pro EPA Omega Fish Oils
*Important for regulation of inflammation surrounding reproductive tissues. Third party lab tested for safety.
Vitamin D liquid
*Hands down the best quality, best priced, best absorbed Vitamin D on the market.
*botanical extracts to support the body's normal inflammatory response.
Thorne uses the purest ingredients available. A lot of companies make the same statement, but compare the two labels on this page. They appear to be identical. But what you don't see are the potentially allergenic ingredients used by other companies. Companies are not required to list these ingredients if they aren't added at the time the product is manufactured.
Why Thorne? Reason #1: Pure Ingredients
Why Thorne? Reason #2: No Impure AdditivesCompare the labels on this page. Here you see the IMPURE ingredients used by other companies. Companies are required to list these additives because they are added at the time the product is manufactured. Thorne is the ONLY company to use pure, hypoallergenic ingredients – from raw materials to the finished product. For 25 years, we have NEVER used the common, inexpensive, potentially harmful additives often used by other companies. We never have, and we never will. That's why your health-care practitioner trusts Thorne.
Why Thorne? Reason #3: AbsorptionThorne products contain no lubricants made of ingredients that can prevent you from absorbing the active nutrients. Lubricants enable tableting and capsuling machines to run more efficiently, but these large fat molecules can prevent the product from dissolving in your digestive tract. Good for the machine – not necessarily good for you. You may not absorb the product or receive its benefits. Large fatty acid additives in this category include stearic acid and its cousins, magnesium stearate and calcium stearate. These lubricants have similar negative properties – reduced dissolution and inhibited absorption.
One of the major causes of infertility and IVF failure is a thin uterine lining, inadequate blood flow to the uterus, i.e. poor uterine artery pulsatility index. Treatment to increase blood flow is essential to improving fertility and reducing chances of miscarriage. It should be noted that stress, lack of exercise, not enough rest, lack of joy, and certain foods all can inhibit blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. The following are recommended to do at home to help increase blood flow to reproductive organs and optimize your fertility;
Castor Oil / Moxa Pack Treatment
Administer for 10 days in the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle (i.e. day 3 to 12). A castor oil / moxa pack is placed on the skin to increase circulation and to promote elimination and healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin (i.e. ovaries and uterus). Recommended to do in the evening at the same time as hot water foot soak (below). Moxa packs can be purchased at Qi Integrated Health.
METHOD: Castor oil / moxa packs are made by soaking (not dripping wet) a small piece of flannel/cotton (i.e. facecloth size folded) in castor oil and placing it on the skin immediately above the pubic hair line. The cloth then is covered with a sheet of plastic (plastic bag cut out), and then a moxa pack is placed over the plastic to heat the oil for 30-60 minutes each night (while you are doing a warm foot bath is optimal). Be sure and rest while the pack is in place. After removing the pack, cleanse the area with a dilute solution of water and baking soda. Store the cloth in a covered container in the refrigerator. Castor oil should not be taken internally. It should not be applied to broken skin, or used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. *NOTE: if using moxa packs to wear throughout the day (they stay warm for almost 24 hrs) with the included belt, please be sure to have at least 1 layer of clothing between the pack and your skin.
Hot Water Foot Soak
Research shows that hot water foot baths (49 degrees celsius) is potentially very beneficial to a woman's fertility. So every night before bed, especially during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, women should give the feet some warm love! Run your hot water tap for 1 minute, most water furnaces are set to 49 degrees celsius (if it feels WAY too hot, check the temp on your hot water heater), and fill a container large enough to fit both feet, then kick back and relax for 15-20 minutes. This is a great time to do your castor/moxa packs as well (above).
Perform from end of menses to ovulation or retrieval date if undergoing IVF. Do 2-3 times each leg (separately), 1-2 times per day. This massage increases the blood flow to the pelvic organs, providing more nourishment to the uterus and ovaries, testes and penis. Compress the femoral artery with your fingers, fairly heavy pressure will be required. When you feel the flow has ceased, hold for 30 seconds. The femoral artery can be located level with your pubic bone, just beneath the crease in your groin between your thigh and lower abdomen. The blood will then back up and increase the pressure gradient in the iliac arteries which forces more blood into the pelvic arteries. This floods the pelvic organs and genitals with more blood. When the hold is released, you should feel a sensation of warmth rushing down your legs as the blood supply returns to the lower extremities. Do not perform this exercise if you: are pregnant, are post-transfer during an IVF cycle, have high blood pressure, have heart disease or circulatory problems (aneurisms, varicose veins, phlebitis, thrombosis), have a history of strokes, or detached retinas.
A research study recently published from the University of Adelaide, Australia suggests that management of female infertility with Chinese Medicine can improve pregnancy rates 2-fold within a 4 month period compared with Western Medical fertility drug therapy or IVF. (link to study absract)
Cost comparison of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Traditional Chinese herbal/acupuncture therapy;
Safe, effective, and natural. It should be emphasized that with Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture treatment for one year, aside from increased fertility, the inevitable health benefits will positively impact a patients whole life drastically. These changes will manifest for many months to years post cessation of treatment.
This meta-analysis review concluded that "the assessment of the quality of the menstrual cycle, integral to Traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis, appears to be fundamental to successful treatment of female infertility." More accurately, Traditional Chinese medicine takes the whole person into account, not just their menstrual cycle. In holistic medicine (as opposed to reductionist science based medicine) each system is intimately integrated with every other. Taking the whole picture into account, not just what we see under a microscope, is paramount in holistic medicine, and the future of all medicine, including allopathic evidence based western bio-medicine.
To learn more about how Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture can help your fertility, call 604.742.8383 to set up a free 15 minute phone consult with Dr. Spence Pentland.
Medical evaluation and treatment of the infertile male; below is an exhaustive list of diagnostics that can and often should be run, particularly in difficult cases. First of all, men should get their sperm checked, examined for a varicocele, get blood work done to see levels of blood sugar and thyroid hormones. ***If sperm tests show very low count, then hormones should be checked (testosterone, prolactin, FSH, LH), ultrasound should be done to look for absent vas deferens, and genetic testing should be considered (y-chromosome microdeletions, karyotyping, cystic fibrosis). Men should always be counseled to avoid hot tubs, alcohol, paint, prolonged activities that warm the genitals, tight underwear, too much paper handling, and canned foods. ***Treatments include; varicocele repair, medications for hormonal issues, antioxidant therapy, acupuncture, and herbal medicine.
recent fevers or illness cancer infections or STI's surgeries trauma Family: cryptorchidism, hypogonadism DES exposure Medications childhood infections: mumps diabetes thyroid issues
tobacco, alcohol, drugs, steroids Proper timing of intercourse lubricant use Heat exposure Toxin exposure Occupational history Partner history (gynecological & obstetrical)
BP BMI (with waist circumference) Secondary sex characteristics Penis: hypospadias, chordee, plaques or venereal lesions Spermatic cord: varicocele or lipomas Rectal: prostate, cysts, irregularities with seminal vesicles Testis: size, shape, irregulairties Epididymes & Vas deferens: absence, tenderness (infection/inflammation), obstruction Transrectal ultrasound: obstructions
Semen analysis (ASA & round cell staining to determine leukocyte content - CD45 monoclonal antibody) Post-ejaculate urinalysis: check for retrograde ejaculation & seminal fructose (if absent or PH is low, seminal vesicles may be absent or obstructed) TSH (Free T3 & T4, anti TPO): especially if motility or morphology or erectile health is an issue. Testosterone FSH LH prolactin estrogen Coritsol Fasting glucose Post-coital testing CBC Cholesterol STI swab p34 acrosin sperm penetration dynein testing (if see respiratory issues)
karyotyping Y-microdeletions kleinfelters
Surgery (varicocele) Medications (thyroid, metformin, beta blockers) Clomid or HCG (diabetes, prolactinoma, low testosterone, low FSH) Antioxidants (zinc 60mg, folate 5mg - wong et al fert steril 77:491, 2002) Acupuncture Herbal medicine
Evidence and experience shows that acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine can improve sperm parameters (natural fertility or IVF support), decrease stress, increase libido, aid with erectile dysfunction, and treat issues associated with prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS).
The importance of overall health and well-being three to six months before conception cannot be over-stated. Nurturing your ‘whole’ self can help you conceive naturally, or ensure that your body is optimized for IVF success.
Dr. Spence Pentland provides traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, combined with dietary advice, lifestyle guidance, and mind-body techniques, to offer a very powerful way to enhance your fertility and chances of conception.
Call to book an initial appointment to evaluate both male and female reproductive health. From there, an individualized treatment plan is created. Free 15 minute phone consults are also offered to answer any questions before booking.
Using acupuncture and Chinese medicine to increase your fertility and chances of getting pregnant can look quite different for different people. Individual treatment plans are created for each person that walks in to the clinic. The amount of acupuncture treatments and Chinese herbal medicine varies depending on the cause of the infertility, as well as the persons overall health and need for re-balancing. The following are generalized treatment protocols to give you some idea of what to expect.
WOMEN. A protocol of acupuncture 1/week for at least 3 cycles/months is generally the minimum length of treatment protocol recommended to almost any woman wanting to use acupuncture to optimize her fertility, no matter what the underlying condition. A deeper understanding of the female menstrual cycle and various observation techniques will ensure fertile times are pinpointed. This also helps with treatment targeting regulation of the different phases of the cycle. Emotional support with each turn of events is paramount. Time to dialogue is a part of each and every appointment. Chinese herbal medicine may be prescribed depending on need. This is in the form of a tea that is taken 2x/day for 1-6 months or more. If western medical intervention is thought to be necessary and has not been undertaken, referrals to family doctors or fertility specialists to begin routine fertility testing is likely (ABORM certified acupuncturists most often work closely with local reproductive health specialists). Supplements, lifestyle changes, exercise (yoga), time with girlfriends, singing, meditation, more nourishing work-life balance, and dietary modifications will also be discussed and re-visited as necessary. A treatment plan combining some or all of the above is developed and followed to optimize your fertility and overall health and well-being (as your fertility is most often simply a manifestation of your overall health). After your initial recommended course of treatment is complete, a progress evaluation is made. It is at this time that an additional course of treatment may be recommended.
IVF, ICSI, FET, IUI, Superovulation, Clomid. For complete information regarding the integration of acupuncture and IVF please click here.
PCOS (POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME). This syndrome can have many faces. The most common aspect of PCOS is irregular or absent ovulation (annovulation). Other common manifestations include excess body and facial hair, oily skin and acne, and obesity or weight gain. For more information about PCOS treatment in Vancouver click here
RECURRENT MISCARRIAGE. For a more complete overview of how traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture views and treats women that have experienced recurrent pregnancy loss click here.
AGE RELATED (DIMINISHED OVARIAN RESERVE).
MALE FACTOR INFERTILITY (poor sperm parameters). 2 acupuncture treatments per week for 6-8 weeks, or 1 acupuncture treatment per week for 12 weeks consecutively. This is based on clinical study literature produced in China. Chinese herbal medicine may be prescribed depending on need, if the 1 acupuncture treatment per week option is chosen, or if acupuncture treatments are not an option. These come in the form of either concentrated powder that is re-constituted with hot water and taken 2x/day, or raw herbals (roots, berries, leaves, etc) are cooked as soup and taken 2x/day. Supplements, lifestyle changes, exercise, and dietary modifications will also be discussed.
THIN ENDOMETRIAL LINING. Click here for a full article on various ways to treat a think uterine lining.