Advanced Maternal Age + Pregnancy
Many women are trying-to-conceive while in their forties. Chances for success are limited and
even if conception is achieved, the rate of miscarriage is high. The reason it is difficult to
conceive is because the woman in her forties has (generally speaking) diminished ovarian
reserve and a reduction in egg quality.
After several failed IVF cycles the usual next step is donor egg. Donor egg has between a 60 and
70 percent success rate.
Rate limiting factors may include but are not limited to poor uterine lining, poor sperm quality,
and disease (autoimmune attack of the embryo – or poor patency of blood flow not nourishing
the embryo or placenta).
Acupuncture and herbal medicine cannot increase ovarian reserve, but it can improve egg,
lining and sperm quality in many instances. The mechanism-of-action is improved blood flow-
to the ovaries and testes. A “perfect” 10 millimeter lining is not necessarily “perfect”. Many 10
millimeter linings do not have proper blood flow within the lining and this compromises the
ability of the lining to maintain an implantation. The eggs of a woman in her forties can always
stand to be improved. The sperm in a man in his mid to late forties is often sub-par and may
often be improved with acupuncture and herbs.
I don’t, for example, believe that acupuncture and herbal medicine can get one pregnant
The desired and often obtained end result of the inclusion of acupuncture and herbal medicine
when trying-to-conceive is an improvement in egg, lining and sperm quality. An IVF-embryo
transfer is a ‘mechanical’ procedure: eggs are retrieved, mixed with sperm, embryos develop,
and are placed in the uterus and the rest is pure luck.
IVF or IUI has no bearing on improving the chances of conception and an ongoing pregnancy via
the mechanism of improving the constituent components of an embryo – egg and sperm.
Acupuncture and herbs often fill in this gap. If egg and sperm and lining quality can be improved
even a little bit, this may significantly enhance pregnancy outcomes.
Our expectations are not unrealistic. I don’t, for example, believe that acupuncture and herbal
medicine can get one pregnant any more than an IVF can get one pregnant, even though
pregnancies do occur as a result of both interventions occasionally. Pregnancy occurs as a
result of the relative health of the woman who is housing the embryo in addition to the quality
of the embryo and uterine lining. Many things can go wrong resulting in failed cycles.
So, at the end of the day IUI, IVF, acupuncture and herbal medicine can help a woman conceive
but cannot guarantee success. The key is this: you have the power to use additive means which
today, more than ever, are at your disposal to help increase the odds of a healthy, ongoing
pregnancy. Acupuncture and herbs are just but two. Psychotherapy, diet, exercise, biofeedback,
yoga, taichi, and meditation can also be helpful.
Did you know that pregnant women who are highly stressed are more likely to give birth
prematurely? This is a fact. Acupuncture, besides it action on the testes and ovaries and lining
is also known to help reduce stress.