How Ovulation Factors Affect Fertility?
- Background: at first, it’s important for patients to fully understand the process of a normal ovulation cycle.
- During the beginning of a normal menstrual cycle, estrogen levels are low. The hypothalamus (which is in charge of maintaining hormone levels) sends out a message to the pituitary gland which then sends out the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
- This FSH triggers a few follicles in a woman’s ovary to develop into mature eggs. One of these follicles will develop into the dominant follicle, which will release a mature egg and the others will disintegrate. As the follicles mature they send out another hormone, estrogen. The high levels of estrogen will tell the hypothalamus and pituitary gland that there is a mature egg.
- A luteinizing hormone (LH) is then released, referred to as the LH surge. The LH surge causes the egg to burst through the ovary wall within 24-36 hours and begin its journey down the fallopian tube for fertilization. This first half of the ovulation cycle is referred to as the follicular phase.
- The follicle from which the egg was released is called the corpus luteum, and it will release progesterone that helps thicken and prepare the uterine lining for implantation. The corpus luteum will produce progesterone for the next 12-16 days (the luteal phase of the cycle.) If an egg is fertilized, the corpus luteum will continue to produce progesterone for a developing pregnancy until the placenta takes over. If fertilization does not occur, the egg dissolves after 24 hours.
- Many women suffer from ovulation factors which will ultimately affect their fertility. The most common ovulation factors are annovulation (lack of ovulation) and irregular ovulation, both of which can result in no egg for fertilization, thus creating an impasse to conception. Ovulation can be affected by many things, including stress, illness, or disruption of normal routines. Often an imbalance of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis develops and results in an irregular production of hormones needed to produce a normal ovulation cycle.
How Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Treat Ovulation Factors?
- Chinese medicine and acupuncture can help regulate ovulation by sorting out the hormonal confusion that results from hyper or hypo stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.
- By working with kidney energy, the seat of reproduction in Chinese medicine, we can positively influence the quality of follicles and their stimulation during the LH surge. Ovulation complications can cause a back up in the body’s energies, creating an internal climate that can be inhospitable to a maturing follicle. This climate can be controlled and harmonized, paving the way to conception by our experienced doctors.
- Our protocol for treating ovulation factors includes the use of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Cupping Therapy, Reproductive Organ Massage, and nutritional guidance.
- Acupuncture assists the body in: regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, thus balancing the hormones to produce an increased number of follicles, better quality eggs, and a normal LH surge to release a mature egg; increasing the blood flow to the uterus and increasing the thickness of the uterine lining to improve implantation rates; relaxing the nervous system and decreasing stress levels to dramatically improve chances of pregnancy. If annovulation exists due to immune issues, acupuncture can regulate the immune system and help restore hormonal balance and ovulation.
- Chinese herbs aim to: re-balance the hormones while focusing on the production of high quality follicles. Clinical research has demonstrated that a properly prepared herbal formula specific to a patient with ovulation issues can lower elevated FSH levels and initiate the proper adrenal function necessary in ovulation.