While I treat couples of all ages, and all walks of life wishing to conceive, I see a great many women 40 and over trying to get pregnant. Perhaps that is because I, myself, thanks to the power of Chinese medicine, overcame recurrent miscarriage and had my second child naturally at age 44. Additionally, I have helped numerous women from their 20’s up to age 45 (even those well into perimenopause) conceive naturally, using fresh or frozen sperm, or through Chinese medicine as an adjunct to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
Success Rates and Age
To be clear, conception and going to full term is not a slam dunk. My success rates are about 60% overall in the age-30+ range, and about 40% overall in the age-40+ range. There are both known and unknown factors that contribute to those percentages. I believe it’s helpful to know in advance that the older we become reproductively, the more effort it may take. It can be more expensive (vitamins, herbs, and other forms of self-care); it can be more time consuming (diet, exercise, tracking fertility signs, etc.); possibly more medical (lab tests, imaging; exams); but ultimately worthwhile. However, you are never expected to do it all. Your efforts, whatever they may be, should make you healthier, stronger, and more aware, and are for a limited time period. And if all goes optimally, there will be a baby, to boot!
Some of the issues that respond to treatment include unexplained infertility, thin uterine lining, blocked fallopian tubes, fibroids or endometriosis, amenorrhea, irregular cycles, PCOS, benign pituitary tumor, perimenopause, elevated FSH levels, thyroid imbalances, and autoimmune issues, among other concerns.
Some people’s journeys also take them to unexpected places, such as uncovering ambivalence around having a child. For some, this work provides a helpful opportunity to face such questions and seek more clarity in next steps, whether it be moving forward to the degree that is comfortable, or coming to a different path altogether. Whatever the choices, there are no mistakes.
Perhaps one of the more difficult things to embrace when working with Chinese medicine, especially when one wants a baby yesterday(!), is that in order to prepare the body for conception, whether naturally or through ART, it is best to invest in at least three months of weekly treatments and herbs (sometimes less, sometimes more).
The benefits of the three-month approach are two-fold. One, it helps increase the odds of conception. Two, it helps decrease the risk of miscarriage. All too often, people (understandably) rush to conceive before conditions are optimal, and leap for joy over a positive pregnancy test, only to be devastated by a miscarriage soon after. While not insurmountable, we want to avoid this at all cost as it is emotionally traumatic, and physiologically slows the process down by weeks or months. Preparation is key (as is post-conception support), and even gives you a nice break from what can become a tedious process in order to make a baby, giving you a chance to rejuvenate, bring out your juiciness, and find your true spirit for creating new life.
For men, acupuncture is often less frequent if at all depending on his health status, though statistically speaking, issues around infertility are distributed equally between male and female. So, a word to the men, including sperm donors: it is best to get that sperm analysis done! Unfortunately, some women go through months of trying to conceive, testing, or alternative treatments only to discover there was a simple and treatable sperm issue all along, or even some seemingly unrelated health issue in the man that, once resolved, was followed immediately by a healthy conception! If there are any sperm issues, know that it takes three months for the newly generated healthier sperm to fully mature.