Acupuncture For Infertility
Infertility can be a crushing blow. Endless visits to doctors and specialists, expensive fertility treatments, and even just the waiting, lead to frustration, depression, and feelings of hopelessness. You’re not alone. Infertility plagues approximately 7.3 million women of childbearing age each year. Any sort of imbalance can be a stumbling block to conception.
Couples often turn to mainstream fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization and injectables. The discomfort and pain due to side effects and the risks of the procedures alone are reasons why those struggling to get pregnant should consider all of their options. Failed treatments lead to further devastation and at times, serious financial burden. Unfortunately there is no magic pregnancy pill. It’s all about increasing your chances of conceiving.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest fertility treatments and has been practiced for thousands of years.
It’s still around today, because it works. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly common for Western reproductive specialists to refer patients to acupuncture practitioners. You might be cringing at the thought of needles, but it’s virtually painless. The hair-thin, flexible needles are inserted shallowly into the skin and most patients find the experience relaxing.
Many women are disheartened when they’re ushered into a specialist’s office and given a one-size-fits-all diagnosis, all while the doctor checks his watch. Do you feel like you’re not being listened to? Do your appointments feel cold and impersonal? This is where acupuncture differs.
The process of conception is multi-tiered and complex. Issues at any step in the process can disrupt the ability to conceive or carry a healthy pregnancy to term. In many cases, Western medical doctors treat one specific factor. A licensed acupuncturist focuses on remedying the root cause of the issues, which could be anything from high FSH to ovarian cysts, and considers each woman as a whole, accounting for the the body, mind, and spirit.
Diagnosis is based on every aspect of health, from the coating of your tongue to the flow and color of menstrual blood, and not just the usual suspects.
A licensed acupuncturist takes the time to listen to you and keeps in mind the laundry list of potential causes for infertility. Infertility can be a mixture of factors including biological, genetic, environmental, lifestyle, and physical elements. This allows for an individualized treatment targeted to you and you alone. Acupuncture brings the body, emotions, and spirit into harmony. Appointments are more in depth and a licensed acupuncturist will broach many possible reasons for infertility that aren’t addressed by Western medical doctors.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is thought that imbalances in Qi, or energy that travels along pathways called meridians, leads to illness and health problems. A licensed acupuncturist targets certain acupuncture points along the meridians by stimulating them with needles. These points are associated with different organs and organ systems, conditions, and body functions. After acupuncture treatments, Qi moves from areas where it’s excessive to areas where it’s deficient, bringing the body back into balance. This can alleviate infertility disorders. In addition, acupuncture has a soothing restorative effect, which helps the body to embrace an embryo.
From a Western perspective, studies have found that acupuncture releases endorphins and brain hormones that play a role in conception and regulating the menstrual cycle. There are also neuroendocrine effects and the two areas of the brain and the ovaries that form the network that dictates egg production and ovulation, are impacted. Acupuncture can increase blood flow to the reproductive organs and stimulate the ovaries with increased hormones. The uterus is often strengthened, which makes it more capable of absorbing these hormones and nutrients that are necessary to secure an embryo.
There are no 100% effective treatments, as everyone is different. Acupuncture isn’t a one-time deal either. It takes a course of treatment to glean the benefits. But acupuncture can significantly enhance your chances at conception and a healthy pregnancy by addressing underlying causes of infertility and creating a healthy reproductive environment. It’s important to see a licensed, fully trained acupuncturist for the highest chances of success. Furthermore, those who would like to combine Eastern and Western medicine can enhance Western infertility treatments through the use of acupuncture.
Research backs up acupuncture’s efficacy. Here are some findings:
- Dr. Raymond Chang, the director of Meridian Medical, is both a Western medical doctor and also spent years in China as an apprentice to masters of herbal and acupuncture treatment. He is well known for combining Eastern and Western medicine and patients visit him from around the world.
Chang told WebMD, that acupuncture stimulates egg function without the use of fertility medications. He stated, “When you compare the pregnancy rates for an egg producing drug such as Clomid to acupuncture alone, the rates are equal – 50% chance of pregnancy in three months for general patients.” The advantage is that acupuncture does not pose side effects.
Depending on the study and type of infertility issues, the success rate for acupuncture alone is estimated to be more than 50%.
In another interview, he said, “Acupuncture provides better circulation and better blood flow to the womb. It will give a better chance for the eggs to be nourished and therefore carried.”
A study conducted in Denmark assessed women who received acupuncture on the day embryos were implanted in their IVF treatments. It was found that certain neurotransmitters may be released during acupuncture that affect pituitary gonadotropin secretion, ovarian follicular growth, fertility, and ovulation.
What this means is
“Acupuncture administered on the day of ET (embryo transfer) significantly improves the reproductive outcome in women undergoing IVF or ICSI treatment for infertility. The rates of positive pregnancy tests, clinical pregnancies, and ongoing pregnancy or delivery were all significantly higher than those in the control group.”
- Dr. Paul Magarelli, an infertility doctor with the Colorado Springs’ Reproductive Medicine and & Fertility Center and licensed acupuncturist Dr. Diane Cridennda are co-authors of an ongoing study on using acupuncture in conjunction with IVF.
The pair’s research indicates that receiving acupuncture approximately 30 minutes before and after in vitro fertilization can boost the chance that the embryo will successfully be implanted and reduce the odds of miscarriage. In addition, they found IVF drugs and the procedure itself can be more effective if a patient undergoes acupuncture once a week for one to two months prior to the start of IVF and continues once per week throughout the whole cycle.
Many practitioners who use acupuncture in their practice in the United States today are not licensed and have very little acupuncture training. It’s not much better in Canada, the UK, or Australia either! They often take abbreviated courses and don’t complete supervised treatments on actual patients. A qualified, licensed acupuncturist has accrued over 2,000 hours of acupuncture and Chinese medicine education, which is between three and four years of Master’s level, on-site training at an accredited college. They also have hundreds of hours of hands-on clinical experience, with at least 250 actual patient treatments, under their belt.
It is impossible to become proficient in an entirely different form of medicine, learn precise needling techniques, philosophy, fundamentals, a new diagnostic criteria, and all of the appropriate acupuncture points in several weekend classes or less.
In addition, those practitioners who are certified, but not licensed, do not need to take the national certification exam or complete any continuing education, while this is all par for the course for a fully trained acupuncturist.
For your safety and to get the most effective treatment possible, you must be under the care of a licensed acupuncturist. This is the way to increase your odds of becoming pregnant. Many times, a practitioners certified to practice acupuncture will simply place the standard needles in the general points, the head, the hands, and the feet. This may be relaxing, but it does little for your health or fertility. Research suggests that for acupuncture to be effective, the appropriate points must be stimulated.
Take the guesswork out of the process with TryAcupuncture.org.
We prescreen and hand select acupuncturists in our network and each have earned their Master’s degree in traditional Chinese medicine. Our goal is to ensure that you visit the best of the best and get the greatest chance of success.