At Fertility Toronto we don’t just help women with fertility and pregnancy care we also treat a wide variety of women’s health concerns, everything from menopause to PMS to painful periods and endometriois to fibroids and cysts.
Having kids in your early 20’s is no longer the norm. Many of us are waiting until our 30’s or even early 40’s to have children. There are many positive aspects to waiting until you are a little older to have kids. One of the unfortunate side effects of waiting until you are older to have children is that achieving pregnancy and carrying a child to term becomes more difficult.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the areas that people are turning to for help with fertility problems. Traditional Chinese Medicine has used safe and relatively side effect free treatments to help couples get pregnant for thousands of years. Both men and women turn to Fertility Toronto Acupuncture for help.View Our Fertility Treatment Plans
Four main types of patients come to the clinic for help.
- People that have not been diagnosed as infertile but want to do everything they can to increase the odds of a healthy pregnancy and child
- People that have been diagnosed as infertile and for a variety of reasons choose not to use conventional western fertility treatments
- People that want to increase the effectiveness of ART including IUI, and IVF with and without ICSI.
- Women with Polycystic Ovarian Synrome (PCOS)
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need more information.Contact Us
When a woman’s endometrial tissue is found in the body, outside of its normal location in the uterus, it is termed endometriosis. Endometriosis can have many symptoms including dysmenorrhea (i.e. painful menstruation), menstrual bleeding irregularities, pelvic pain, abdominal pain or back pain among other symptoms. However the chief symptoms are cyclic pain in the lower abdomen, lumps in the pelvic cavity and infertility. Endometriosis is classified according to its severity (mild, moderate, severe). The classification does not seem to directly determine its impact on fertility.
Rogue endometrial tissue is usually found on the ovary or lower regions of the pelvis but can be found outside the pelvis and in rare incidence at locations including the lung, arm or kidneys. This misplaced tissue responds to the fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels in the woman’s hormonal cycle including bleeding at the time of menstruation. The blood may then trigger an immune response resulting in inflammation and also eventually cause scar tissue to form. The inflammation and scar tissue are thought to be responsible for the common symptom of severe cyclic pain.
Endometriosis is very common, with estimates of as many as 1 in 5 reproductive age women have some degree of misplaced endometrial tissue with 30 – 40% of those women being infertile. According to modern medicine, endometriosis is one of the most common causes of infertility. The pain associated with the disease is not predictably present in all cases. The procedure to confirm a diagnosis is laparoscopy or surgery, however, MRI or ultrasound imaging are often used as a less invasive first investigation.
The most popular theory of how the endometrial tissue appears outside the uterus is menstrual debris flows backward into the pelvis in “retrograde menstruation”. Other theories suggest other cells in the body change into endometrial cells.
Endometriosis has no cure in modern medicine and is usually treated with NSAID’s to relieve pain, drugs to control/minimize menstruation or surgical removal of the tissue.
Research on treatment using Traditional Chinese Medicine plus our own clinical results have shown significant success using Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Formulas. The condition is recalcitrant and one should expect treatments of at least 3 months.View Studies
Unexplained infertility is perhaps the most frustrating diagnosis for those trying to conceive because it does not come with a treatment solution or clear insight into its causes. Although a diagnosis of unexplained infertility can be frustrating you are not alone, as up to 25% 1. of people that show up to medical fertility clinics are diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”.
“Unexplained infertility,” means that there is no medical reason within the realm of modern scientific understanding why you are not able to conceive. In other words, you are ovulating normally, your fallopian tubes work well, you have no pelvic adhesions or endometriosis, your partner’s sperm are healthy but you still cannot get pregnant.
At this point, couples with unexplained fertility are either told to go home and keep trying or they are subjected to different clinical procedures (even though nothing is clinically wrong with them). In today’s society, many of these patients are referred immediately for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). Once referred treatment options at these clinics include superovulation, drug controlled cycles, IUI, and IVF.
Although the scientific tests performed are accurate in showing when the reproductive structures are formed well, they are not as precise at predicting the functions of your uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, sperm, etc. Functional problems that do no show up on these tests are one reason why some individuals are diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
For example, a woman’s fallopian tubes may be shown to be open during a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) but they still might be slightly clogged up with mucus or clog up at a later time thereby preventing the sperm from reaching the egg or the embryo reaching the uterus. This type of scenario could lead to a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility”.
Another common explanation for unexplained fertility is believed to be undiagnosed endometriosis. Endometriosis can sometimes be difficult to detect and due to the high frequency (24-50%) of this disease in those with infertility, it is often suspected as the cause of a proportion of patients with the diagnosis of unexplained fertility.
Other reasons for unexplained infertility include aging eggs, poor functioning sperm that still fall within normal parameters, autoimmune problems, undetectable infections and stress.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
In general, Chinese Medicine excels in the treatment of illnesses or medical conditions that cannot be diagnosed by modern medicine. Unexplained fertility is a good example of this. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are successfully used all over the world to help couples who have been given the diagnosis of unexplained fertility to get pregnant and give birth to healthy babies. In fact, a large proportion of the patients we treat at the Family Fertility Clinic come to us with this diagnosis.
According to TCM, there is no such thing as unexplained infertility. In Chinese medicine, “unexplained infertility” translates simply as impaired reproductive functioning. Therefore, we believe infertility is an indication that your body is currently out of balance.
According to the principles of TCM, all of your objective and subjective symptoms are of significance to the diagnosis. In cases of unexplained infertility, there will be indications where the problems and this will manifest as various signs and symptoms.
For a doctor of Chinese medicine it is very important to ask questions about the various stages of a woman’s menstrual cycle to best determine the subclinical fertility problems an individual may currently have. Possible indications of fertility problems include:
- Severe PMS
- Premenstrual breast pain and headaches
- Premenstrual low back pain, loose stools, acne
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Scanty menstrual flow
- Clotty, dark menstrual blood
- Menstrual pain
- Short luteal phase
- Long follicular phase
- Short follicular phase
- Inhibited ovulatory phase
Each of the above indications is a physical manifestation of imbalance in the reproductive system. Reproductive functioning is maximized once the entire body is brought back into balance. This imbalance always stems from an underlying root cause. After our skilled practitioners determine what energetic imbalances are causing the menstrual irregularities to appear, the infertility is no longer unexplained. In addition, when we have an explanation, we have a diagnosis, a treatment, and a remedy. The treatments used to treat unexplained fertility in our clinic are acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, dietary therapy and lifestyle counselling. When your energy is rebalanced, your body is restored to its natural state of health. At this time your organs systems, including your reproductive system, will function as they were designed to, and your ability to conceive will be enhanced.View Studies
PCOS - Polysystic Ovarian Syndrome
PCOS is the most common female endocrine disorder. PCOS has many symptoms, like erratic or non-ovulation that make it difficult to become pregnant if you suffer from it. Research shows that acupuncture is an effective way to help PCOS through regulating the metabolic and endocrine system to help ovulation occur.
Our own clinical experience backs up this research with great success in helping women who have PCOS, not only ovulate regularly and have regular periods again , but to get pregnant and give birth to healthy babies. This includes both slim and heavy type PCOS.
Many women with PCOS feel misunderstood and therefore improperly treated by their own GP’s, gynecologists or even fertility specialists. It is refeshing to come to a clinic that not only understands what you are going through, but can help you get to were you want to be!
We have remarkable success by using acupuncture and Chinese herbs to help women have regular ovulating periods again and even get women having periods who may have not had a period since they were a teenagers!
Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture
PCOS does not reverse overnight. Results will be achieved quicker when a nutrition and exercise plan are adhered to by the patients as well.
1- 2 acupuncture treatment weekly with Chinese herbal tea daily until ovulation becomes regular or pregnancy is achieved. (3 – 14 months)View Studies
Varicose veins are a surprisingly common problem to experience. They can range from small and not painful to be quite large and very painful.
They are a common complication in pregnancy. Usually they happen in the legs but can develope in the groin during pregnancy as well. Unfortunately they can stick around long afterwards. Varicose veins also develope on their own as well.
Not surprisingly, most people would love to get rid of their varicose veins but are trying to avoid surgery. Not to mention, often the surgery only removes them temporarily and they eventually come back.
Most people are surprised to hear that acupuncture and herbs can succesfully treat varicose veins.
Here at the clinic we have great success at helping people get rid of the swelling and pain of the varicose veins.
Our treatment protocol usually involves weekly acupuncture treatments along with herbal medicine taken daily. We tend to see good results in 2 – 6 months.
Acupuncture 1/week + herbal medicine daily
Prevent Recurrent Miscarriage
Recurrent miscarriage can be a devastating problem for a woman and/or couple to go through. There are many factors that can infuence recurrent miscarriage. Hypothryoid, progesterone problems, clotting factors and egg/sperm quality being some of the common ones.
At Fertility Toronto we have success in helping women with recurrent miscarriage have healthy babies for all of the above reasons. Doing acupuncture and taking chinese herbs will increase your egg quality, help to boost your metabolism for hypothyroid problems, and help your immune system to function better to counter clotting factors leading to recurrent miscarriage. Acupuncture also helps reduce cortisol (stress hormone which lowers progesterone levels) so progesterone function is improved thus helping to treat recurrent miscarriage..
The treatment protocol is to do acupuncture 1 – 2/week and often Chinese herbal medicine for 3 months before conception and 2/week to 13 – 26 weeks of pregnancy depending on the cause and timing of the recurrent miscarriage.View Studies
Doing acupuncture and taking Chinese herbs during the first trimester of pregnancy can reduce the indicence of miscarriage.
In a study that was looking to use acupuncture to reduce nausea and morning sickness as a “side effect” the miscarriage rate was 5% for the study group. * A standard miscarriage rate (taken from after a heart beat is discovered in the fetus, usually around week 7) is anything from 11 – 15%
Acupuncture 2/week + possibly Chinese herbal medicine for the First Trimester
*Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. (2002). “Pregnancy outcome following
women’s participation in a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture to
treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy”. Complement Ther. Med.
Amenorrhea/ no periods
Amenorrhea is the absence of a menstrual period in a woman of reproductive age. A sign, not a disease, amenorrhea seldom results from a serious condition. However, for those wanting to conceive not knowing why menstruation has stopped can be stressful, and waiting for it to recur may feel like a lifetime.
There are two types of amenorrhea: primary and secondary amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhoea is the absence of menstruation in a woman by the age of 16. Secondary amenorrhoea is where an established menstruation has ceased for three months in a woman with a history a regular cycle or six months in a woman with a history of irregular periods.
Secondary amenorrhea is much more common than primary amenorrhea. Other than the two physiological reasons (pregnancy and breastfeeding) there are many possible causes of secondary amenorrhea including:
- Stress. Mental stress can temporarily alter the functioning of your hypothalamus — an area of your brain that controls the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle. Ovulation and menstruation may stop as a result. Regular menstrual periods usually resume after your stress decreases.
- Drug-induced. Certain medications can cause menstrual periods to stop. For example, antidepressants, antipsychotics, some chemotherapy drugs and oral corticosteroids can cause amenorrhea.
- Illness. Chronic illness may postpone menstrual periods. As you recover, menstruation typically resumes.
- Hormonal imbalance. A common cause of amenorrhea or irregular periods is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Low body weight. Excessively low body weight interrupts many hormonal functions in your body, potentially halting ovulation. Women who have an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, often stop having periods because of these abnormal hormonal changes.
- Excessive exercise. Women who participate in sports that require rigorous training, such as ballet, long-distance running or gymnastics, may find their menstrual cycle interrupted. Several factors combine to contribute to the loss of periods in athletes, including low body fat, stress and high energy expenditure.
- Thyroid malfunction. An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) commonly causes menstrual irregularities, including amenorrhea.
- Pituitary tumour. A noncancerous (benign) tumour in your pituitary gland (adenoma or prolactinoma) can cause an overproduction of prolactin.
- Uterine scarring. Asherman’s syndrome, a condition in which scar tissue builds up in the lining of the uterus, can sometimes occur after uterine procedures, such as a dilation and curettage (D and C), Caesarean section or treatment for uterine fibroids. Uterine scarring prevents the normal build up and shedding of the uterine lining, which can result in very light menstrual bleeding or no periods at all.
- Premature Ovarian Failure: Menopause usually occurs between ages 45 and 55. If you experience menopause before age 40, it is considered premature ovarian failure.
Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture
Often with amenorrhea, the problems are less with the physical structures themselves but more problems with how these structures function. Luckily, Chinese medicine excels at uncovering and correcting functional imbalances in the body.
If you are not menstruating, there is always a reason. With a little investigation into your medical history and an accurate description of what you’re experiencing, you and our specialists can usually discover – and uncover – the imbalances that are preventing menstruation, and conception. Treating this underlying problem with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is the best way to resolve your amenorrhea and regulate your menstruation. Depending on the cause of your amenorrhea, lifestyle changes and dietary modifications may be necessary to regulate your body.View Studies
Anovulation/ No ovulation
Anovulation is the absence of ovulation in a woman who would normally be ovulating (not pregnant or post-menopausal). If no egg is released then a woman cannot achieve pregnancy naturally. Anovulation can result from a number of different factors.
Taking the birth control pill. Some women have been on the birth control pill for 10 or 15 years before coming to try to conceive. It can take the body’s own hormonal system to kick back into action to start ovulation.
Stress. Mental or physical stress can temporarily alter the functioning of your hypothalamus — an area of your brain that controls the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle. Ovulation and menstruation may stop as a result. A regular menstrual period often resumes after your stress decreases. Here stress can be from your job, relationship, excessive travel, prolonged illness
- Chronic illness. Both chronic mental (e.g. depression) or physical (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease) illness can be contributing factors to anovulation.
- Low body weight/fat. The body uses its fat reserves to help in estrogen production. Estrogen is a key hormone involved in ovulation and if its production is diminished due to low body fat a woman will have difficulty ovulating normally.
- Too much exercise. The body needs a fair amount of energy to accomplish all the steps needed to make ovulation to occur. Excess exercise will not only use up the energy the body needs to ovulate, but it often results in low body weight/fat as well.
- Pollution and recreational drug use. Some environmental pollutants and recreational drugs can interrupt normal hormone function and inhibit the cascade of hormonal events need to create ovulation.
- Hormone Imbalances. Elevated levels of testosterone and prolactin, like in PCOS, can stop ovulation from happening.
- Pituitary or Ovarian Failure. The pituitary gland helps produces Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) without which ovulation can not occur. The eggs are stored in the ovaries, so if a woman’s ovaries no longer function then she can no longer ovulate.
Like with amenorrhea, anovulation occurs less because of faults in the physical structure of the reproductive system but more in how those structures function. Luckily Chinese medicine excels at uncovering and treating functional problems in the reproductive system.
If you are not ovulating there is a reason for this. With a thorough investigation of your symptoms and detailed look at your medical history you and your specialist will be able uncover the root of why you are not ovulating and are unable to conceive. Treating and correcting the underlying root with acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas is the best way to correct these imbalances and help your body to ovulate again. Depending on the cause of your anovulation life style and nutrition changes will be necessary to get your body back on track and ovulating again as well.View Studies
Thin Uterine/Endometrial Linings
Thin endometrial/uterine linings are a common reason for women to have fertility, and spefically implantation or even miscarriage, problems. There are a few things you can do to improve your lining thickness.
Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture
Often with thin uterine linings, the problems are less with the physical structures themselves but more problems with how these structures function. Luckily, Chinese medicine excels at uncovering and correcting functional imbalances in the body.
If your endometrial linings are thin, there is always a reason. With a little investigation into your medical history and an accurate description of what you’re experiencing, you and our specialists can usually discover – and uncover – the imbalances that are preventing menstruation, and conception. Treating this underlying problem with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is the best way to thicken your linings and regulate your menstruation. Depending on the cause Chinese herbs, lifestyle changes and dietary modifications may be necessary to regulate your body.
Often diet plays a big part. Eating red meat is one of the best things you can do do thicken your uterine lining. Ask about details at during your initial consult.View Studies
Blocked Fallopian Tubes
The fallopian tubes are fine muscular structures that are responsible for getting the sperm to the egg and transporting the embryo to the uterus for implantation. A blockage of these tubes is what causes 1/3 of all female infertility. The common procedure to test the openness of a woman’s fallopian tubes is a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). Here dye is injected into a woman’s uterus and pictures are then taken to make sure that liquid is coming out of each of her fallopian tubes. If there is blockage then there will be no spillage of dye from one or both of her tubes.
One of the most common causes of fallopian tube damage is from pelvic infection and sexually transmitted diseases. It is important that you get tested for STD’s and get treated right away if any are present to minimize damage to the reproductive organs these diseases can cause.
Blockage in the fallopian tubes can be caused by damage to the tubes themselves or by being clogged with mucus. If there is physical structural damage to the tubes then there is little Chinese medicine can offer these women. An IVF procedure or microsurgery will be recommended and the Chinese medicine and acupuncture will be used to increase the success rate of the IVF and not to clear the blockage itself.
Chinese medicine works best if the structure of the fallopian tubes has not been too damaged. Once the infection has been cleared the blockage in the tube can be cleared effectively with Chinese medicine. There is some research in China that shows encouraging results using administration of Chinese herbs to clear up the blocked tubes and restore fertility.View Studies