Chinese medicine and the IVF patient

Acupuncture-Pregnancy-195
Source: Merck Serono Symposia; Synchronising ART, Jane Lyttleton, May 2009
This 2 day Synchronising ART Foundations program was designed for nurses and support personnel working in the field of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). Jane Lyttleton's talk presented a basic understanding of how Chinese Medicine approaches the diagnosis and treatment of infertilty, and looked at evidence that supports possibilities of how Chinese medicine might improve IVF outcomes.

 

Abstract

Chinese Medicine and IVF.

Chinese medicine has offered its unique form of treatment for infertile Chinese women for many hundreds of years. Today couples having difficulty conceiving still seek solutions from this ancient traditional medicine not only in China but increasingly in the west.

Hence it is useful, and important, for doctors and nurses working in IVF clinics to have some understanding of what other treatments their patients might be accessing and what it is that Chinese medicine can contribute in the modern fertility clinic.

Chinese medicine describes different causes of infertility as discrete patterns of symptoms or signs. While these terms might not be familiar to the western trained specialist they are nevertheless describing the same disorders in the same patients. Becoming familiar with the terms of both disciplines can facilitate communication.

Treatment of infertility with Chinese medicine focuses on the correct functioning of the reproductive system and the quality of the gametes (within the context of overall constitutional health). Its emphasis on quality (reflected in ovarian function and responsiveness, sperm vitality and embryo viability) has the potential to make it a useful partner to IVF procedures whose focus is more on quantity.

Finally we shall  examine the possibilities of how Chinese medicine might improve IVF outcomes and look at what evidence we have to date to support this.