You’ve been diagnosed with “Advanced Maternal Age (AMA)”, “Poor or Diminished Ovarian Reserve (POR, DOR)”, "Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)”, or "Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)". Possibly due to an elevated FSH level, low AMH score, or ultrasound with few follicles, your fertility doctor may talk to you about using egg donor or adoption because your odds of conceiving naturally look grim. However, although commonly mistaken to be irreversible conditions with little to no hope of conceiving using your own eggs, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine CAN be used successfully to help you conceive, sometimes even without needing ART. In fact, Chinese Medicine is arguably the most effective and beneficial treatment for these diagnoses. Due to the complexity of this condition, it is highly recommended that you seek an acupuncturist with extensive fertility experience. If you are trying to conceive naturally and your acupuncturist does not recommend herbs and supplements, find another acupuncturist immediately! Herbs and supplements are critical to the success of your treatment - acupuncture alone is insufficient. At Zen Fertility Center, we have over 200 different herbs and supplements in our pharmacy to allow us to customize each treatment program for optimal fertility enhancement.
How Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Reverses Biological Age
Much of the success of acupuncture can be attributed to the length of treatment. In general, your success rate will increase the longer you have had acupuncture treatment – this is especially true if you are over 35 years old. To gain a better understanding of why acupuncture often takes time to produce success and to address the common misconception that egg quality cannot be improved because women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, let’s go over some basic biology.
It’s true that women are born with all the eggs they will have unlike men who will continually make sperm throughout their life. However, the misunderstanding is that these eggs cannot be influenced. In fact, women are born with a set number of immature follicles which contain a similarly immature egg. Starting with the first menstruation, a group of follicles begins a maturation process lasting about a year which will end in death or in ovulation (the process where the egg leaves the follicle).
Two-thirds of the way through this maturation process, the follicles have transitioned to tertiary (or antral) follicles. At this stage in development, they become dependent on hormones produced by the woman (which acupuncture can affect), causing a substantial increase in their growth rate.
With a little more than ten days until the end of their development, most of the original group of follicles has died. The remaining follicles enter the menstrual cycle, competing with each other until only one follicle is left. This remaining follicle ruptures and releases the egg. The maturation process begins continuously, meaning that at any point in time the ovary contains follicles in all stages of development, and ends when a mature egg is ovulated.
Acupuncture can affect any part of this year long maturation process. However, as you age, it will take longer for the acupuncture to impact this development to optimize egg quality. This means that we can help improve ovarian reserve, high FSH, and low AMH. Keep in mind that your fertility doctors can make assumptions about ovarian reserve based on antral follicle ultrasounds, FSH/AMH tests, and age but assumptions are all they are.
These diagnostic methods are not the definitive answers. Since ovarian reserve is thought to determine the reproductive potential, markers of ovarian reserve such as FSH and AMH levels have been proposed as potential predictors of a woman's reproductive potential. Although no studies have determined the ability of these markers to predict age-related infertility in the general population, these markers are used clinically in women with infertility to predict response to and potential success of fertility treatments such as IVF. Therefore, It is important to note that FSH and AMH are used to predict response to medical fertility treatments and does not indicate potential to conceive naturally.
Regardless of what these tests show, we can often optimize the remaining eggs because the quality is not predetermined. For women over 40 years old, treatment with acupuncture may take longer because impacting the full year of maturation may be needed to produce good enough egg quality for pregnancy.
Recommendations to Prepare You for Pregnancy:
- First and foremost, let go of your negative thoughts about your ability (or inability, as the case may be) to conceive given your diagnosis. You are NOT your diagnosis! If you have at least 1 functioning ovary and fallopian tube on the same side and an uterus, you have the ability to conceive.
- Practice positive affirmations to change your negative thought patterns about your body or your fertility. An example is: “My eggs are healthy and developing perfectly to create my baby”.
- Reduce your stress with conscious deep abdominal breathing throughout the day.
- Eat healthier, less processed foods that are nutrient dense without added sugars and chemicals (i.e. preservatives, food coloring, etc.).
- If planning to start acupuncture, begin charting your BBT to help your acupuncturist determine if hormonal imbalances are a factor.
- Call us today to start acupuncture.
|"I am 42 years old, an MD, and believe it was acupuncture that allowed me to conceive at a later age. When my husband and I decided we wanted a child, I was already over 40 and diagnosed with advanced maternal age infertility. In other words, no good reason, just "poor egg quality." Our infertility doc immediately told us we needed to go straight to IVF as that would be our best chance. So we did, and failed our first IVF attempt. I decided I was willing to go another round and had done research on my own to try to optimize the outcome. I found out about the benefits of acupuncture in infertility, and through the internet, found Chang Acupuncture. I chose them for their experience in infertility specifically. I have never regretted that decision! From the beginning, Heidi's experience and compassion were exceptional in diagnosing me and then helping me to get my body in balance, to decrease my stress levels. I was originally going to use acupuncture to supplement my next IVF attempt, but wouldn't you know it-unbelievably within 1 month, I got pregnant naturally! I continued with acupuncture throughout my pregnancy and I know that has made a huge difference in minimizing my morning sickness and boosting my overall health during the pregnancy. I am now 37wks and expecting a baby boy soon! Needless to say, my husband and I are thrilled. I truly believe it was acupuncture at the hands of experienced professionals like Heidi who helped us achieve our dream. Acupuncture works!"
- AKP, San Diego
"I was diagnosed with early menopause by my doctor at age 41. My FSH level was 73 and I hadn’t had a normal period in 6 month. I was also experiencing night sweats. A visit to my OBGYN confirmed what the first doctor had said and I was advised to prepare for menopause, and to consider hormone replacement to protect my bones. I decided to start treatment with Eric Hollander at Chang acupuncture. He had me drink an herbal tea, and with in a few weeks my night sweats had stopped. Eric then treated me to help get my period started again. A subsequent blood test showed my FSH level dropped to 30 which was good news. I never got my period however. This is because a month later I found out I was pregnant! My husband and I are still a state of shock. We never thought it was possible. Thanks you so much!"
- B.Y. San Diego CA
"After years of trying to get pregnant naturally without success, my husband and I went to see a fertility specialist. Based on our age (I was 40 at the time, my husband 47) and our diagnosis – diminished ovarian reserve/premature ovarian failure (AMH 0.7) and mild male factor infertility (decreased motility, volume, morphology) - our doctor cautioned us about our chances of getting pregnant. We were told that, given my age we would have a much better chance, using donor eggs. Not ready to take this step – we decided to give it a try using my own eggs. After one failed IUI and one IVF that ended in an early miscarriage, I had a hard time dealing with the emotional stress of going through the treatments, then getting pregnant only to lose the pregnancy again, but at the same time I felt that at the very least I could get pregnant, and that there was room for improvement. I started looking into additional options that could increase our chances. At one of our doctor visits, acupuncture was mentioned as a way of reducing stress during fertility treatments.
Talking to Julie Chang of Zen Fertility Center and reading about the positive effects of acupuncture on infertility, I decided to give it a try. I started seeing Heidi for treatments which helped with the emotional stress, and it also made me realize that I could strengthen my body, improve hormone levels, increase blood circulation to my uterus, and that I actually had a chance of improving my egg quality. Before starting another cycle of fertility treatments I saw Heidi for about 6 weeks - twice a week for acupuncture treatment. I also added their fertility smoothie and DHA supplement to my diet. After 6 weeks we tried for another IVF cycle, which had to be converted into an IUI, because of having only 3 mature eggs. Given the even lesser chance of getting pregnant through an IUI, we were surprised when we found out that I was pregnant again. Only to be devastated again by another early miscarriage.
It was Heidi who made me feel that it was not all hopeless and that with patience and further acupuncture treatment (they recommend 3 months min. before trying fertility treatments) I would have a better chance of getting pregnant and staying pregnant. And she was right! After 3.5 months we tried again for an IVF cycle, which also had to be converted again into an IUI due to the fact that I was a “bad responder” to the fertility drugs. This time I had 4 mature eggs only. The bad news came with some good news about the lab results for my husband. Sperm motility went up from 45% to 75%(normal) after adding the fertility smoothie and other supplements to his diet. And I felt that even though I only had 4 mature eggs and doing IUI only, my chances had increased. Two long weeks later we got the good news that I was pregnant again! And I believe it was with the help of acupuncture and the supplements my husband and I took, that from the beginning everything seemed to look better. HCG was increasing at the right rate. Early ultrasounds were normal. After years of struggling with infertility we finally were pregnant!
I continued with the treatments throughout my whole pregnancy - at the beginning to help prevent miscarriage, later on in dealing with all of those pregnancy related symptoms and side effects, and now in preparing my body for labor and delivery.
I feel that acupuncture, the expertise, advice and support we got, made ALL the difference for us to being able to have a child! I am 38 weeks now, waiting for our miracle to arrive! My husband and I are very grateful to everybody at ZEN FERTILITY CENTER, especially Heidi!"
- A+M San Diego, CA