Fifty childless women who sought fertility treatment at Baptist University's traditional Chinese medicine clinics are said to have been able to conceive naturally after six months' treatment.
They account for more than 30 per cent of the 145 local and mainland women aged between 22 and 45 who were prescribed customised herbal medicine by the clinics in a bid to increase their chances of pregnancy. Some of their babies are now a year old.
"The figure indicates that traditional Chinese medicine plays a key role in fertility medication," said Li Xiaoguang, a senior lecturer who specialises in gynaecology at the university's School of Chinese Medicine. "TCM helps to regulate the functional capacity of patients in terms of their liver, kidneys and ovaries," she added.
Clinic records from October 2011 to February this year showed 50 women became pregnant after going on a course of herbal medicine for an average of six months. The other patients had either given up or treatment was still ongoing.
Li said women aged 36 to 40 had the highest success rate, at 46.2 per cent. For those over 40, the success rate was 27.8 per cent.
"Older patients may take longer to regulate how their body's function," added Li. "This group of patients is advised to be persistent in their medication once they have started the course."
Most of the 50 women who did conceive had relied solely on Chinese medicine, while another five underwent Western therapies such as in vitro fertilisation at the same time.
"There is no contradiction in adopting TCM along with Western medical procedures, as long as the patients make it known to their doctors," Li said.
"TCM can be used to support and co-ordinate with these Western treatments."
One in six couples in the city, or 16 per cent, are infertile, according to data from the Council on Human Reproductive Technology under the Department of Health. Infertility is diagnosed when a couple fail to have a baby after more than two years of regular sex without contraceptives.
Li said most of the female cases were attributed to a decline in the functioning of the ovaries and "kidneys" - meaning the reproductive system - due to delaying attempts to start a family. The condition could also be aggravated by pressure, she said.
Article: 17th November 2013 www.scmp.com