Traditional Korean medicine provides natural solutions to infertility

For people looking to build a family, infertility can be a considerable and often heartbreaking setback. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine says female infertility treatment programs using traditional Korean medicine can help, offering hope for women having difficulty conceiving children.

Infertility is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a reproductive disease characterized by the inability of a couple to achieve pregnancy despite engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse for a year. It occurs in both men and women.

In many cases, infertility is treatable. According to the authors of the study, a combination of treatments used in Korea, as well as China, are traditionally used to cure the disease. These methods include acupuncture, the ancient Chinese practice that uses needles to stimulate meridians and harmonize the flow of the body’s energy. Moxibustion is also used – this is a method wherein dried mugwort (also known as moxa) is burned close to or on specific sites in the body for warmth and to improve blood flow. Moxibustion and acupuncture are often used together.

To obtain their findings, the researchers used information from the report by the Health & Welfare Ministry of Korea and the Association of Korean Medicine (AKOM) on infertility treatment programs and related sources. The report covered the years 2006 to 2016. All additional information was obtained from six Korean databases.

The authors obtained nine reports, as well as several years of data from 13 programs. Each program lasts from three to nine months and may include various types of interventions. These include herbal medicine, acupuncture, fumigation, and massages.

A total of 1,023 women joined the 13 programs, 887 of which completed the treatment. Of this number, 23.1 percent or 205 women reported a successful pregnancy. (Related: Infertility Linked to Common Household Chemicals.)

The researchers concluded that the findings proved the effectiveness of traditional interventions in helping infertile women become pregnant. They believe that the interventions used in the programs may be used as the primary treatment for infertility before patients are referred to assisted techniques.

Natural ways to improve fertility

People looking to increase their fertility can turn to the following natural methods:

  • Indulge in antioxidants – Free radicals harm all the cells in the body, including egg and sperm cells. Damage to these specific cells can have a negative impact on a couple’s ability to conceive. Antioxidants, commonly found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals.
  • Eat heavy for breakfast – Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have more difficulty bearing children. Women with PCOS but have a normal weight can reduce their insulin and testosterone – both of which harm reproductive potential at high levels – by eight percent and 50 percent respectively simply by eating a heavy breakfast. Naturally, this entails reducing the caloric load of the day’s succeeding meals.
  • Consume healthy fats – Good fats, such as the ones found in nuts, are great for both reproductive and overall health. Trans fat, however, has a negative impact on fertility because of its tendency to raise blood sugar levels – risky for women with PCOS.
  • Be selective with carbs – Simple and refined carbs, like the one from white rice and white flour, cause dramatic blood sugar spikes that can negatively affect fertility. Instead of consuming these carbs, it’s best to focus on complex carbs instead as these are digested more slowly, causing smaller changes to one’s blood glucose levels. One may also consume dietary fiber instead as it helps eliminate extra hormones from the body.
  • Settle for plant protein – Opting for plant-based protein instead of meat-based one can improve fertility by up to 32 percent. Plant proteins are abundant in legumes, such as beans and lentils, and nuts.

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