Treating alongside IVF is a well used approach in Chinese medicine and it’s generally regarded as able to significantly increase IVF success rates, with evidence that combining Chinese herbal medicine with IVF can even double success rates.(i) While Chinese medicine is known to increase natural fertility on its own we suggest couples should consider IVF when:
- There are structural problems such as blocked fallopian tubes
- After six months of taking Chinese herbs/acupuncture without success
- For women over the age of 35, or with low ovarian reserve
- When there are significant male fertility issues
The option of combining procedures such as HSG or laparoscopy (to make sure the fallopian tubes are patent), with Chinese medicine is a viable choice for most couples before they embark in IVF, and Chinese medicine after surgery for endometriosis is supported by research as long as the fallopian tubes aren’t blocked or the ovaries aren’t encased.
Pro’s and Con’s of IVF:
- It’s been successful for many thousands of otherwise childless couples
- The financial and emotional costs are high
- Risks of ‘normal’ complications such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy are higher
- It adds the risk of ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS)
Once IVF is chosen it’s possible to support the process with Chinese medicine and treatment to strengthen the immune state of the mother-to-be and improve the receptivity of the womb lining to improve the chances of implantation and IVF success.
Advantages of combining Chinese medicine (CM) and IVF:
(i) ‘Can Chinese herbal medicine improve outcomes of in vitro fertilization? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.’Cao H. et al. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 10;8(12):e81650.
(ii) Based on the work of Dr. Trevor Wing (of the Woman’s Natural Health Practice, London)
(iii) Based on the work of Professor Yuning Wu (Director of the Beijing Obstetrics and Gynaecology Committee, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Capital University of Medical Science)