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How does TCM help to increase the success rate of IVF?


There are differences between the TCM systems of treatment for fertility and the Western system:


TCM treatment for fertility:


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), fertility issues can be pictured using natural concepts. One of the most popular concepts is the “farming theory” (种地理论). In this perspective, the woman is considered as the earth and the man as the seed. The earth receives the seed and nourishes it to grow. How well the “harvest” becomes, depends on the fertility of the “earth” and the quality of the “seed”. Hence, TCM treatment believes in preparing couples in advance for optimal “earth” and “seed”. The usual preparation period is at least 6 months prior to trying for pregnancy. 


Did you know?

In Singapore, approximately 15% of couples are unable to conceive. Male infertility accounts for over 1/3 of infertility cases.


What is IVF?


In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of fertilisation where an egg (ovule) is combined with sperm in-vitro (in glass). It involves retrieving a woman’s egg, fertilising the egg in the laboratory, and then transferring the embryo back into the woman’s uterus through the cervix. This entire process is typically referred to as an IVF “cycle”. Average cost of an IVF cycle in Singapore may range between SGD 10000 to 15000. Success rate in an IVF cycle is usually confounded by multiple factors, including age, lifestyle habits and gynaecological conditions, and most couples may be required to undergo more than one cycle. In general, cumulative live birth rates for IVF have been reported to be averaging 27.5%, with highest chances in women aged under 30. IVFs are  only recommended after a proper fertility assessment conducted by the fertility specialist.


Did you know?

Walking through an IVF cycle together is a journey requiring emotional tenacity. The husband plays an important role in providing encouragement and support, as the medications can sometimes result in mood swings in his wife. It is important to have a good diet, abstain from smoking and drinking, reduce stress, and review the need for long-term medications before IVF.




Can IVF and TCM be used together?


Acupuncture and other modalities of Chinese/East Asian medicine have been used in women’s health for many centuries. They are safe in the hands of competent practitioners. Acupuncture has been a popular form of adjuvant therapy for IVF couples, due to its perceived effectiveness, safety, and lack of possible herb-drug interactions. 



What should I expect from a TCM fertility session?


First, a responsible TCM practitioner should be aware of your possible underlying fertility conditions. This might include reading through previous fertility assessment reports from both husband and wife. The TCM practitioner will then perform TCM diagnosis for both parties before advising on the appropriate TCM treatments. The main aim of the TCM treatment is to strengthen your constitution, regulate the circulation of Qi and provide ample Qi and blood to the reproductive organs.


Possible TCM treatments include:

  • TCM herbal medications (in the form of herbs, decoctions, or powder)
  • Acupuncture
  • Auricular pressure
  • Moxibustion
  • Manipulative therapy (for meridians)


Depending on the phase of your treatment, the TCMP may also advise charting basal body temperature (BBT) of the wife. BBT charting helps to track her follicular phase, ovulation period and luteal phase in the menstrual cycle, hence enabling a better understanding of monthly menses.


Did you know?

In TCM, infertility is closely related to kidney, spleen, and liver systems. Sufficient Qi in the kidney and spleen systems, coupled with regulated circulation of Qi by the liver system helps provide ample Qi and blood to the reproductive organs.



Are there any recommended protocols to follow or timings to observe before starting acupuncture for IVF?


If you are already preparing for IVF, it is good to start consulting a TCM practitioner on when to begin your adjuvant acupuncture therapy. Clinical studies for acupuncture therapy assisting IVF typically ranges a treatment period of 8-12 weeks. However, depending on each individual’s condition, the TCM fertility treatment plan may differ.

It is usually recommended to have a good night’s rest before the acupuncture session, and not recommended to begin acupuncture if you had not eaten anything in the day or skipped meals.