Last Updated on 20 February 2024 by Brisbane Livewell Clinic
When our patients seek out Acupuncture as a treatment to improve their fertility, they are surprised by the comprehensive health questions and the style of case-taking our Acupuncturists conduct. Giving special attention to thyroid health is crucial to harmonising the body and making it more fertile. Acupuncture works in several ways to address thyroid and reproductive health and their interconnectedness.
Resident Livewell Acupuncturist Kylie Skillen describes a TCM approach: “The thyroid gland tells us about the Yin, Yang and Blood in the body and affects the Spleen, Heart, and Kidney channels.” She notes: “I see a lot of hypothyroid patients (with high TSH in their lab work) seeking help with fertility which can indicate Yang or Blood Deficiency.” She explains that this kind of imbalance affects how fluids move in the body and is often accompanied by fatigue and oedema symptoms.
On the flip side, Kylie observes that her hyperthyroid patients (with a low TSH test result) show excess heat which affects the Heart channel, commonly expressed as palpitations and agitation. Based at our Wavell Heights location, Kylie has an interest in supporting health issues that may lead to infertility in both men and women and supporting a healthy pregnancy. She looks to address underlying conditions affecting fertility like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), pointing out that PCOS has a variety of signs and symptoms in TCM and is often seen alongside thyroid dysfunction. “It’s why we ask lots of questions to decide the best way to treat.”
Since Acupuncture works in part by modulating the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems, (1) regular treatment can help to regulate menstrual cycles, balance hormones and reduce the anxiety and stress often associated with infertility. (1,2) Weight management often has a role in improving fertility and may be made worse by the imbalances caused by hypothyroidism and PCOS. “We look to the Kidney and Spleen channels when weight gain appears in the midsection, working to clear dampness from the body which obstructs the reproductive channels and stops the flow of blood and Qi (energy),” says Kylie.
Male partners can benefit from acupuncture treatment in the preconception care period, ensuring optimum sperm health at the time of conception. Since thyroid hormones act on the testes in multiple ways, an excess or deficit of thyroid hormones results in alterations of testis function, including semen abnormalities. (3) For men with a pre-existing thyroid condition, acupuncture is especially useful for improving sperm health.
Our Cannon Hill Acupuncturist Alexandra Welch points out that the link between thyroid and fertility can go unrecognised in the preconception care phase but arise for women in their first trimester of pregnancy. For patients with Subclinical Hypothyroidism (SCH) the risk of miscarriage, anemia, postpartum hemorrhage, gestational diabetes and preterm births is significant. (4)
“That’s why I always ask my fertility patients to bring in a copy of their blood test results to review, so I can decide whether their thyroid is contributing to the problem.” In her experience, Jasmine says it’s a common issue. “I find it’s often the case for unexplained fertility.”
The good news is that Acupuncture can effectively support thyroid-related infertility for both men and women. TCM offers a safe and effective treatment to improve your chances of conceiving naturally and being in the best of health for pregnancy and birth. As a stand-alone treatment, or in conjunction with Naturopathic care, our Livewell practitioners can help to nurture your journey to parenthood.
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