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Female infertility

There are many different types of infertility experienced by women. Infertility is defined as the inability to produce offspring in a woman who has been trying for two years, who has a normal sex life and, of course, whose partner has normal reproductive function. Some of the most common causes of female infertility include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), fibroids and endometriosis.

However, there are several other reasons why a woman may experience fertility problems, such as ovulatory disorders (like anovulation), premature ovarian failure, luteal phase defect and uterine factors. Egg quality also plays a role in infertility in many women. Unexplained infertility is a particularly challenging diagnosis, a diagnosis doctors apply to explain why conception isn't occurring. Sadly, many women are able to conceive but have difficulties carrying a pregnancy to term, and some women experience multiple miscarriages.

Whatever your age, if you have a history of either numerous fertility drugs (over 3 cycles), birth control pills, PMS, ART procedures, elevated FSH, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, or a history of drug, alcohol, or smoking abuse, it will usually take longer to balance the reproductive system. Our practitioners have in-depth knowledge in this area to give you tailored and individual treatment.

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Male infertility

The use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine offers a viable approach to encourage optimum fertility in sub fertile males. Male infertility is of particular interest to Jo George, who has completed her MSc research in this area, and is currently pursuing a PhD in this subject. Please check out our research section (RHS) for further details.

Estimates suggest infertility affects between 50 and 80 million people; in many couples both male and female factor coincide, making conception challenging. About 25% of couples do not achieve pregnancy within one year, 15% of which seek western medical treatment, with less than 5% remaining childless.

Male infertility can be due to congenital abnormalities and acquired urogenital abnormalities, infections of the genital tract, increased scrotal temperature, variocele, endocrine disturbances, genetic abnormalities and immunological factors.

Studies using semen assessment as the criteria for sub-fertility (sperm concentration <20x106/ml) show that 1:5 18yr olds are classed sub fertile. Male fertility declines with age, most noticeably after the age of 55; with a rise of chromosomal abnormalities in they’re off spring. Men older than 35 have half the potential to achieve a successful conception, compared with men younger than 25.

60-75% of male infertility cases are classified as idiopathic, meaning that no causal factor can be found. These cases are further classified using semen analysis, which commonly reveals a decreased number of spermatozoa (oligozooospermia), poor motility (asthenzoospermia), and high abnormal forms (teratazoospermia). One or more of these semen abnormalities usually occur together and are described as the oligo-astheno-teratozoospermia (OAT) syndrome.

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Endometriosis and adenomyosis

Endometriosis (tissue from the inside of the uterus) consists of the presence of functional endometrium outside of the uterus. Common symptoms are dysmenorrhoea (painful periods), infertility, and pelvic pain. Most this tissue from the inside of the uterus bleeds into the peritoneal cavity (the place that holds others organs such as the bowel, and bladder) during menstruation, which produces chemical irritations and adhesions.

This may also cause problems with the ovaries may also interfere with there function. Adenomyosis, is a condition where this tissue from the inside of the uterus has moved into the myometrium (muscle that surrounds the uterus). The uterus then becomes enlarged, causing dysmenorrhoea and abnormal bleeding. Both diseases have similar symptoms; in women with endometriosis about 15% will have adenomyosis.

Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, and nutritional therapy are of real value in these conditions. Chinese herbs and nutritional supplements have invigorate blood, and reduce xue viscosity by regulating the prostaglandin levels (causes of pain). Significant relief of pain, menstrual irregularities and other menstrual discomforts can be achieved.

Treatment to affect endometriosis positively is usually a long-term commitment of 3 – 6 months if not more, and can be used in conjunction with western medicine. For example when surgery is indicated in severe endometriosis, that is causing distortions of the tubes or ovaries. Many patients with endometriosis also want to conceive, but many of our patients are not trying to conceive but want relief from their symptoms.

What research has been done?

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Fibroids

The majority of fibroids are benign and cause no symptoms, often there may be only one although it is common to see multiple fibriods that are varied in size. Women with fibroids may have problems conceiving, as they can interfere with implantaion if they stick out too far into the uertus cavity. Poor xue circulation is another subtle reason for imparied implantaion nad the development of the ebryo. Many women experience no symptoms, whilst others can have abnormal or heavy bleeding.

Due to the size or postioning of the fibriod/s there may also be symptoms associated with pressure on neighbouring organs like the bladder and bowels. In most instances fibriods do not require tratement especially where no symptoms are experienced, or if post menopausal. Surgery is suggested where the fibriod/s are large, or causing great loss of blood. In these instances strong blood regluating herbs, and anti inflammtory nutritional supplements are given before and after surgery.

Then we begin a fertilty programme if women are trying to conceive. Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, and nutritional therapy are of real value in, when surgery is or isn’t indicated. Significant relief of pain, menstrual irregularities and other menstrual discomforts can be achieved.

What research has been done?

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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PMS

Pre-menstrual syndromes (PMS) are a group of menstrually related, chronic, cyclical disorders manifested by emotional and physical symptoms in the second part of the menstrual cycle, which subside after the beginning of the menstrual period. Many doctors do not believe there is such condition as PMS and, consequently, fail to recognise and treat it. Of 482 women who called the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS) UK helpline in 2000, 42% said that their GPs were unsympathetic or did not seem to know much about PMS.

Most women experience premenstrual symptoms during their reproductive years, but not all perceive PMS as debilitating or distressing. However between 5-10% of women- approximately 1.5m women in the UK, suffer from such severe premenstrual symptoms (PMDD Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) that it impairs their work, relationships and social lives.

Severe PMS is more common between 30-40 years; and in women with young children. Certain hormonal events may be linked with the onset of PMS, for instance, childbirth (particularly if followed by postnatal illness), cessation of oral contraception use, or sterilisation. There is also evidence to suggest significant symptom exacerbation due to stress.

Whilst PMS is not direct contributing factor to infertility, it needs to be treated as it very often reflects the imbalance that is causing sub fertility. Our Chinese medicine practitioners and nutritionist look at the timing of menstruation and whether it is balanced. For example is the cycle regular? Does it have a certain pattern? Or no pattern at all? Is it shorter or longer than average? If shorter than 26 days, the focus of the treatment is to lengthen it. If the first phase (before ovulation) is shorter than ten days we aim to lengthen it.

Simply attending to the timing of the cycle can attend to the underlying imbalances causing PMS and even sub normal fertility.

Using a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional therapy using an evidence- based approach PMS can be successfully treated and managed for those who are trying to conceive trying naturally and those going down the assisted fertility route.

What research has been done?

Jo George, the clinic director, conducted some research which asked British women what treatments they perceived to be effective for PMS symptoms. She has written articles on the findings for Positive Health (Nov 2000), and the National Association of Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS).

A Briefing Paper, which reviews the evidence of effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of PMS by The Acupuncture Research Resource Centre (ARCC) is available in PDF format for download. Other review papers for other conditions are available from ARCC.

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.


Menopause

The menoapuse is associated with a broad number of symptoms, that are experienced in varying intensity by women. Whilst these sympoms are part of the natural regression of the ovaries and estrogen levels, they can be uncomfprtable and disruptive. The flux of this process causesa kind of instability in the autonomic nervous sytem, causing symptoms such as hot flushes, nightsweats, anxiety, insomina, dizziness, vaginal dryness, mood swings, palpiatations, depression, and irritalbilty.

After this process is over, the following three years are crucial in a womens health as bone loss will be pronouced at this time, and potentially oesteoporosis.

The results of these few studies suggest that acupuncture can be effective in reducing symptoms of hot flushes, and can also be very helpful in treating symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with the menopause. Acupuncture therapy may have a similar effect on hormones circulating in the blood as hormone replacement therapy. Supported by excellent nutritional advice, supplementation, and Chinese herbs treatment we offer a considered and viable option to managing the menopause positively.

What research has been done?

A Briefing Paper, which reviews the evidence of effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of PMS by The Acupuncture Research Resource Centre (ARCC) is available in PDF format for download. Other review papers for other conditions are available from ARCC.

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Irregular cycles / no ovulation / PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrinopathologies in women of reproductive age. It accounts for 75% of women with anovulatory (no ovulation) infertility, 30-49% with secondary amenorrhea (no periods), 85-90% with oligomenorrhoea, 80% with hursutism (excess hair growth), and 30-60% with obesity.

Presently it is known that PCOS is linked to many different types or patterns of symptoms, examples of which include not only non-hirsute women with oligomenorrhoea or amenorrhea, but also lean hirsute (hairy) subjects with regular ovulatory cycles. There is a strong gentic link i.e. more common in women with a family history of it.

Whether genetically or nutritionally determined the role of insulin is becoming evident as an important feature in the pathogenesis and subsequent treatment of PCOS in some types. The severity of the disorder can be linked to the percentage of body fat. This recent emphasis suggests that PCOS may no longer be considered purely a gynecological disorder, as it also encompasses many features of a metabolic syndrome.

Conventional medicines lack of success in treating PCOS means that many women turn to complimentary therapies. Chinese herbal medicine, and acupuncture can achieve clinical success, whilst treatment with nutritional therapy in tandum is also advised especially where insulin disorders are suspected.

Not all women with amenorrhea (no periods) are suffering from PCOS, and we see many women who have stooped taking the pill whose periods do not return. Again our emphasis is to re balance the hormonal system to encourage the period once more

What research has been done?

Jo George, the clinic director, conducted some research which reviewed current treatment approaches to PCOS, both in Chinese medicine and western medicine, which is available in PDF format for download.

A Briefing Paper, which reviews the evidence of effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of PMS by The Acupuncture Research Resource Centre (ARCC) is available in PDF format for download. Other review papers for other conditions are available from ARCC.

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Uterine bleeding during ovulation

At around the time of ovulation, slight bleeding can occur without any changes to the lining of the womb. Its cause is a very brief fall in oestrogen levels when the follicle surorngding the egg ruptures at its time of relase. Very rarely will this happen without other issues in the cycle happening, therefore our Chinese medicine practitioners and nutritionist will also look at the timing of menstruation and whether it is balanced. Simply attending to the timing of the cycle can attend to the underlying imbalances causing bleeding at around ovulation.

What research has been done?

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Luteal phase deficiency (LPD)

LPD occurs when the capsule (corpus luteum) of the follicle left over after the egg has been released in ovulation does not secrete enough progesterone, which sometimes leads to short cycles. If ovulation has occurred then the lack of progesterone support, makes it difficult for the implantaion and dveeolpment of an embryo. LPD can be accompanied by bleeding between periods, miscarrige, or infertility. Diagnosis is not straight forward, in western medicine.

Our Chinese medicine practitioners, and nutritionists work with your bodies detailed symptom picture in order to bring about a protocl of treatment to regulate the hormonal system. This may be a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and nutrional supplements, testing and advice.

What research has been done?

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Excessive menstrual bleeding

Commonly hormonal prfiles will not show any abnormal imblance, but heavy periods are a common syptom of fibriods, polyps, and adenomyosis, amoung other disorders. Injury to the uterine lining via IUD insertion, or abortion and DNC can also result in excessive loss of xue. The main disoder from a bio chemical point of view is prostglandin impbalne. Loss of bllod regualrly cases fatigue, clotting, and sometimes accompayied by PMS.
Some resecrah seems to pint to Chinese herbal medicine as being able to better regulat these prostagladnis, which in turn is stranlthen with nutrional therapy.

What research has been done?

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Dysfunctional uterine bleeding

This can happen frquently during puberty, and the transitional period during the menopause. Irregular blleeding, large amounts of blood loss may lead to fatique and anemia. Other disoreders need to be ruled out.
In both young and older women it is appropriate for our Chinese medicine practitioners and nutritionist to also look at the timing of menstruation and whether it is balanced. Simply attending to the timing of the cycle can attend to the underlying imbalances causing these distressing symptoms.

What research has been done?

A Briefing Paper, which reviews the evidence of effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of PMS by The Acupuncture Research Resource Centre (ARCC) is available in PDF format for download. Other review papers for other conditions are available from ARCC.

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Ashermans syndrome

Ashermans syndrome is a condition that encompasses amenorrhea (no periods or ovulation) or hypomenorrhea with lower pain in the abdomen following injury to or loss of the endometruim (uterus inner lining). This may occur when over zealous curettage (is the use of a curette to remove tissue by scraping or scooping) and/or severe infection in the uterus.

This results in scarring and multiple adhesions. When treatment involves loosening the adhesions with another curretgae and inserting a IUD for to presevt new adhesions from froming, then by adding Chinese herbal medicine treatment success can be enhanced. In China good results have been achieved in mild cases, by using this combined treatment approach. Nutritional advice, and optimum nutritional supplements can also help to reduce inflammation, and improve blood circulation, which leaves less opportunity for further adhesions to appear.

What research has been done?

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Primary or functional dysmenorhea

What research has been done?

A Briefing Paper, which reviews the evidence of effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of PMS by The Acupuncture Research Resource Centre (ARCC) is available in PDF format for download. Other review papers for other conditions are available from ARCC.

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Miscarriage

A large percentage of miscarriages are the result of genteic defects in the embryo. However miscarriages can occur in acute infection, endocirne disorders, uterine defects, and poisioning (e.g. alcohol). Immune disroders also can play a role; for example maternal – fetal blood type or resus incompatability.

If the miscarriage is underway, and in most cases inenvitable, then Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture can help to remove all the contents of the uterus. Subsequesnt treatment after this process has finished involves the strengthening of the body (constitution), with acupuncture, Chinese medicine and nutritional advice. We usually advise that conception be tried only after three healthy cycles have been experienced. Treatment will focus on bringing harmony to the hormonal system again, post – following the decline of pregnancy hormones.

With re-current miscarriges, if two or thrreee have been experienced then a cause is sought with the would be parents. In these cases our Chinese medicine pratitioners, and nutritionist work together to strengthen the constitution, and balance the hormonal system. This approach can be very useful, as we are affecting the constitution of the would be parent, not the pregnancy or fetus as such.

What research has been done?

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Fibrocystic breast disease

Sometimes called chronic cystic mastitis or hyperplasia of the breast, this condition manifests as lumps in the breast which can be accompanied by pain and tenderness. This condition is very common in women between 30 and 50 years of age, but rarely in post menopausal women. Often it is linked to the pre menstrual phase of the cycle, when these lumps grow larger and proliferate, disppearing at the end of the period. The degree of breast pain, tenderness and extent of ‘lumpiness’ varies from woman to woman. Often PMS symptoms will also be present.

Some reduction in breast size, swelling, and lumps can be achieved using acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, nutritional supplements and dietary advice. This can be achieved through careful observation of the rest of the cycle, together with paying close attention to where the hormonal inbalances lie.

What research has been done?

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Uterine prolapse

This condition occurs when the uterus breaks through the pelvic floor, most commonly caused by childbirth. However pelivc tumours, chronic bronchitis or other mechanical causes are possible. Surgery may be indicated, but in many cases delayed until after childbearing age. Support during this waiting phase can be done with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, however the affects are temporary and not a permanent solution.

What research has been done?

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.

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Urinary incontinence

Can be due to an infection, neuro-vesical disease (extreme urgency), or over flow of urine in the bladder. Stress incontinence (not considered true incontinence) can occur after childbirth as a result of the muscles of the pelvic floor being over-relaxed. Physical exercises that strengthen these core muscles together with acupuncture, and Chinese medicine helps the recovery of the tissue and muscle function.

What research has been done?

Please make use of our dedicated research section to view further news and research on this topic. The British Acupuncture Council's news page is a great resource from articles to research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a range of conditions. Visit www.acupuncture.com for more interesting acupuncture research and information.



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