Infertility is defined, by most experts, as pregnancy not occurring after a period of one or two years of attempted conception. Unexplained infertility, where by conventional tests fails to reach a diagnosis, affects 20-25% of couples. This is not due to inadequate investigations, but other factors, for example it is not currently possible to determine if the eggs are actually released at the time of supposed ovulation; if the fallopian tubes are able to pick up the eggs; if the sperm are capable of reaching the site of fertilisation; or if the eggs can be fertilised by the sperm.

Reasons for Infertility in Men

Infertility in men is often caused by problems making sperm, producing too few sperm or no sperm at all. Another problem is the sperm's ability to reach the egg and fertilise it. The number and quality of a man's sperm can be affected by his age and lifestyle choices such as alcohol, drugs, toxins, smoking cigarettes or by health related issues such as radiation and chemotherapy for cancer.

Reasons for Infertility in Women

The main reason for infertility in women is a lack of ovulation, for without it there are no eggs to be fertilized. Ovulation may not occur due to blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, physical problems with the uterus, or uterine fibroids.

Other factors that may affect a woman's ability to conceive are her age, a poor diet, athletic training, being overweight or underweight, smoking, alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), health problems that cause hormonal changes, polycystic ovaries or stress.

If all health issues have been successfully ruled out, then stress may be the main contributing factor affecting successful conception and full term pregnancy. The stress of trying to become pregnant builds, often leading to guilt, self doubt and negative self talk. The mind has great power over the body, which is constantly affected by our emotions, influencing the endocrine system, ovulation and pregnancy. This is where treatments such as acupuncture can help, by calming the mind and rebalancing hormone levels.

The Alternative approach to Infertility

In Western medicine, there are often no medical reasons that doctors can find to explain why conception is not occurring. In Eastern medicine, every body is unique and the symptoms can be treated and the root cause addressed.
Acupuncture personalises fertility treatment, aiming to rebalance the individuals network of organs, hormones and energy systems. Stress, which negatively impacts the functions of the body, is released and the blood flow to the reproductive organs is increased, improving the fertility rate.

The Western Approach to Infertility

If you think you have fertility issues, the basic tests can be done by your GP, who can also answer questions on infertility and give you advice on conception. If the tests administered by your GP give no pointers to a specific cause, then it is sensible to ask to see a specialist.Infertility can be treated with drugs, surgery, artificial insemination or in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or a combination of these treatments. However, it is important to note that among women under thirty-five the success rate for IVF is only 28.2% a figure which plummets to 10% in the over forty category. These procedures can be very expensive and stressful both to the physical and emotional wellbeing of the recipient.