Acupuncture Support for fertility
Acupuncture/Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment is based on the theory that illness, disease and health problems stem from an interruption of the body’s natural flow of energy (Qi) in the body. Techniques used to aid in fertility treatment include; moxibustion, cupping, and acupuncture (learn more here)
40% of infertility is caused by problems in the female, stemming from problems such as anovulation and endometriosis. Another 40% is due to problems in the male, such as low sperm count or motility while the remaining 20% is caused by unknown factors. Treatment with Acupuncture can help improve almost every cause of these obstacles.
In women Acupuncture treatments can help to stimulate blood flow to the uterus, ovaries and endometrium.This may encourage the ovaries to function at their peak, increase the thickness of the uterine lining and assist with both menstruation and ovulation, all of which are important aspects for conception!
Acupuncture is believed to increase quality of life and lower stress levels during clinical fertility treatments, which may in turn provide an ‘easier’ path to pregnancy.
Once pregnant, acupuncture combined with good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle may assist in stress reduction, to minimize nausea, and to alleviate lower back pain or pressure that is common in the later stages of pregnancy (learn more here).
When should I come for Fertility Treatments?
You can come in at any time to work on regulating your menstrual cycle (fertility).
If you are experiencing symptoms with your cycle; it’s irregular (too short or too long) or you aren’t getting a cycle at all, TCM treatments can help to get you back on track. Beginning treatments before you are trying to conceive (TTC) can help you to feel better overall and can take some of the stress of when you do want to become pregnant.
Ideally, cycle changes take at least 3 months of treatment to see significant shifts. So it is suggested that you come for treatments 12 weeks before TTC. If you can ’t make that work or have already started fertility treatments don’t fret, any acupuncture is better than none!
Acupuncture and IVF
In preparation for an IVF cycle, acupuncture may assist in regulating hormones, improving the menstrual cycle and promoting ovulation whilst relieving stress by working on the central nervous system.
When undertaking IVF, acupuncture treatments can be arranged along side the different phases of IVF depending on your specific protocol (suppression, stimulation, retrieval, post retrieval, transfer). The treatments are catered to what is going on at each stage of the process and can help to mitigate some the the medication side effects (like abdominal tenderness, bloating, fluid retention, weight gain, and nausea, hot flashes) and to help manage the stress associated with the whole process.
Stress reduction is one of the main ways acupuncture increases fertility.
There is a delicate balance that has to happen between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and reproductive glands to maintain optimal health and fertility. When people are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released in the brain which alters the brain's neurochemical balance, thus changing hormone levels and disrupting the pituitary balance that is key to the reproductive cycle. Stress is capable of preventing a woman from ovulating entirely and can contribute to the cause of female infertility. Stress can also create spasms in both the fallopian tubes and the uterus, which can interfere with movement and implantation of a fertilized egg. In men, stress can alter sperm counts, motility, and cause impotence.
Fertility treatments are always going to be a stressful and emotional time for women and couples so using acupuncture to help alleviate stress and allow your body to function at its best possible health is going to be a huge benefit.
Acupuncture and male fertility
Achieving optimal health is important for BOTH partners (not just females- remember 40% of infertility is due to male factors). Acupuncture may be an appropriate way for males pre-conception to improve aspects of general health including energy levels, stress and cardiovascular health. In specific relation to fertility, practitioners suggest acupuncture may assist in increasing sperm count, quality and motility.
Weekly treatments for 5-10 weeks have been shown to improve sperm quality. It nothing else, coming in for treatment at your partner’s ovulation can help boost sperm speed/motility and provide essential qi (energy) for reproductive health.
Acupuncture’s Side Effects
Acupuncture treatment produces few or no side effects. It can naturally stimulate the hypothalamus to effectively balance the endocrine system and its hormones and to get to the root cause of female infertility as well as male infertility.
“The goal of an infertility treatment from a TCM perspective is not just to get pregnant,
but to stay pregnant and to have a healthy baby,”