If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for 6 months or more, acupuncture can give you the support and extra help you may need to conceive naturally.
Acupuncture helps women and men achieve a natural pregnancy by improving general health. 30% of all failures to conceive are often described as ‘unexplained.’ Chinese medicine can often identify and effectively treat these unexplained causes because it looks at the person as a whole and by balancing hormones, improving blood flow to the uterus and pelvic area, as well as reducing stress it can often avoid the need to resort to more invasive medical intervention. It also treats specific medical conditions that might affect your fertility.
During the initial treamtment your diet, lifestyle and work-life balance are all discussed; sometimes making some small but important changes in these areas will make a significant difference to your fertility.
For women, acupuncture can benefit:
• Irregular cycles
• Short/long cycles
• Amenorrhoea – lack of periods
• Dysmenorrhoea – painful, heavy periods
• Spotting, bleeding outside period time
• Recurrent miscarriage
• Ovulation pain
• Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
• Fibroids, cysts, polyps
Research shows that acupuncture helps to regulate the menstrual cycle, lowers raised levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), relieves symptoms of endometriosis, induces ovulation in women with polycystic ovaries (PCOS).
For men, acupuncture can benefit:
• Sperm count – morphology, motility, antibodies
• Immune system issues
• Low libido
• Erectile dysfunction/impotence
• Testicular health
Research has shown that acupuncture can improve the quality and motility of sperm and release endorphins that reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Assisted Reproduction Techniques (ART)
If a woman or couple decide to undergo assisted reproduction (IUI, IVF, ICSI), acupuncture treatments carried out at various key stages during the assisted procedures can help in the following ways:
Down regulation phase – where the body’s natural menstrual cylce is being ‘switched off’, women often experience menopausal symptoms such as migraines, hot flushes, mood swings and bloating, symptoms which acupuncture can help relieve.
Up regulation/ovarian stimulation – acupuncture treatment helps egg maturation and the thickening of the lining of the uterus. Acupuncture can also prevent ovarian hyper-stimulation, which can have serious consequences.
Prior to egg collection – acupuncture helps the woman relax and treatment opens and softens the cervix in preparation for egg collection.
Day of embryo transfer – acupuncture treatment immediately before and after transfer (if possible within an hour or so of the procedure) has been shown to increase clinical pregnancy rates (42.5% with acupuncture, versus 26.3% without acupuncture). See “Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy” by Wolfgang E. Paulus MD, Christian-Lauritzen- Institut, Ulm, Germany 2001. (PDF)
Post transfer and prior to taking a pregnancy test – acupuncture treatments help the embryo to stay attached to the the uterine wall and ensure a good blood supply to the endometrium (the uterine lining). Couples often feel “abandoned” and on their own awaiting a pregnancy test; acupuncture can help relax the body and mind during this difficult and often stressful waiting period.
IUI – Acupuncture can be a good support during IUI, helping thicken the lining of the uterus and enhancing relaxation both prior and post the procedure.
I have studied and worked closely with the members of the Acupuncture Childbirth Team Brighton & Sussex (ACT Brighton & Sussex) in the UK – a group of acupuncturists sharing a common interest in enhancing fertility, pregnancy and the birth experience for women and their partners using acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Please visit their site to learn more about how acupuncture can help in your particular case: actbrighton.org.uk