Acupuncture for Infertility Treatment
Conception is a fragile miracle that can be affected by any one of a thousand factors. If there are: physical obstructions of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus, if hormones are slightly out of balance, or menstrual cycles are out of phase, if your uterine lining is too thin or too thick , or if the endometrial glands don’t respond to the progesterone – if any one of these or any other problems are present, there is a significantly reduced chance of conceiving in any given month. And all of these factors are affected not just by a woman’s reproductive organs and hormones but also by her general state of health, levels of stress, exercise habits and diet.
Acupuncture infertility treatment has gained in popularity recently. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), which includes non-medical health interventions like acupuncture, yoga and herbal medicine, is on the rise. In addition, scientific research on the different health benefits of acupuncture shows promising results for many health conditions. Acupuncture has been shown to help with nausea, pain relief, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among other situations.
Some findings show that acupuncture infertility treatment increases pregnancy rates for women using in vitro fertilization (IVF). In fact, in a few studies, women who received acupuncture infertility treatment within one day of embryo transfer during IVF were more likely to get pregnant than women who did not receive it.
How does acupuncture work?
During acupuncture infertility treatment, tiny sterilized needles are placed into the skin on specific points of the body. Once inserted, the needles stay in place for several minutes, which usually doesn’t cause much pain.
These acupuncture points in the body are lined up along pathways called meridians. By putting pressure on these points, the body is brought into balance. Some practitioners also use sound waves or electrical charges to target these points either with or without needles.
Researchers have identified that acupuncture causes the body to release beta-endorphins and enkephalins in the brain and spinal area. When these natural opioids are released, hormonal and other body systems are better regulated and the person being treated becomes more relaxed.
Many people find acupuncture to be relaxing, and say that it helps them manage stress. For women who struggle with getting pregnant, acupuncture fertility treatment has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression.
During acupuncture infertility treatment, specific points in the body that connect to the ovarian and follicular regions are stimulated, boosting reproductive health. It has also been shown to boost the flow of blood to the lining of the uterus, making it healthier for pregnancy.
Benefits of acupuncture and fertility:
- Regulating the menstrual cycle
- Reducing stress by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. High stress levels are associated with reduced chances of conceiving
- Improving blood circulation to the pelvic organs, including the ovaries and uterus, allowing the reproductive organs to work to their full potential
- Increasing blood circulation to the uterus ensures optimal endometrial thickness
- Helping to trigger ovulation in some women with ovulatory dysfunction
- Helping women with PCOS, endometriosis, dysmenorrhea, pelvic inflammation
- Improving sperm count, motility and structural abnormalities
Other conditions that may benefit with acupuncture infertility treatment include:
- Spasmed tubes
- High follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels
- Abnormal luteal phase
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Recurrent miscarriage and infertility with an unknown cause
- Male factor infertility issues
- Acupuncture treatment protocols – females
- Natural cycles
- Treatments every 2 weeks. This will improve the mentrual cycle, reduce PMS symptoms, reduce period pain and prepare the body for conception.
- It is best to schedule one of the treatments one day prior to predicted ovulation.
- Blood tests would be repeated every 3 months.
- Once a week treatment. Best to have 3 months treatment before IVF. Once medication is started then 2 x weekly treatments. Day before egg retrieval and day before implantation.
- Acupuncture treatment protocols – males
- Once a week treatment – this will address stress and increase sperm count.
Preparation for pregnancy should begin several months prior to conception. If both partners begin a preconception healthcare programme including fertility acupuncture, nutrition 3 – 4 months prior to conception, it is possible to have impact on the health of both the egg and sperm and reproductive outcomes. Our 3 month male fertility acupuncture and sperm improvement programme is recommended because the continous process by which stem cells develop into mature spermatozoa takes around 3 months. Spermatogenesis (or sperm development) is a three month process!
Who provides acupuncture infertility treatment?
One should find a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in a variety of health conditions. Look for an acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health, pregnancy, or fertility. Make sure they have at least several years of experience with acupuncture infertility treatment.
Your medical aid may cover acupuncture infertility treatment with some practitioners. Contact them to find out what your benefits are.
Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?
There are findings showing certain acupuncture points do increase the risk of miscarriage. That’s why you must find a licensed practitioner that is knowledgeable about pregnancy and fertility.
On the other hand, some people report that acupuncture performed during the first trimester may lessen the incidence of miscarriage.
However always talk to your doctor before proceeding with acupuncture or any complementary treatment during pregnancy.
- American Cancer Society: Acupuncture.
- American Pregnancy Association: Treating Infertility using Acupuncture.
- American Society of Reproductive Medicine Patient Fact Sheet: Stress and Infertility.
- Bernazani, L from Pregnancy.org: Using acupuncture to enhance fertility and treat common pregnancy conditions. CDC: Costs of CAM and frequency of visits to CAM practitioners: US, 2007.
- Dr Debbie Smith – Homeopath and Doctor of Chinese medicine
- MedlinePlus: Acupuncture
- MedlinePlus: Acupuncture may ease depression during pregnancy.
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Acupuncture Shows Promise in Improving Rates of Pregnancy Following IVF.