The treatment of infertility in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differs greatly from conventional medicine. Depending on where you are on your journey you may be working with your gynecologist or a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). A RE specializes in the treatment of infertility, and therefore has a lot more tools to be able to treat it. However, many still feel that the treatments are not individualized and that they are pushed through like cattle. If you are one of those people who feel this way, you may want to explore alternative treatments such as acupuncture for fertility.
Increase Your Chance of Conceiving Through Acupuncture for Fertility
Acupuncture treatments are focused on an individual’s needs, customizing its treatments accordingly, and works well with or without artificial reproductive therapy (ART) which is either In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or Intrauterine insemination (IUI).
There are many reasons why men and women have challenges conceiving, and each person’s fertility journey is unique. Acupuncture is a personalized complete approach which places an emphasis on every symptom. This individualized approach increases your chances of conceiving by natural means. It is a viable solution that has been shown to provide assistance for men and women that are infertile.
The Basics of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and utilizes thin needles on specific points on different parts of the body. Fertility is improved by reinstating the stability in the body’s qi (life energy) by eliminating any blockages within the twelve major meridians of the body. Meridians are similar to blood vessels, but they are transporting qi instead of blood. An individual is believed to be in good physical health when all twelve meridians carry a balanced amount of qi. On the other hand, blockage of the vital qi can lead to health problems, including infertility.
There are several factors that contribute to infertility including excessive coffee consumption, alcohol intake, job-related stress, and malnutrition. These factors have been identified to have an adverse effect on the qi in the kidney, liver and spleen meridians. Acupuncture has been shown to be beneficial for people who have the aforementioned patterns.
Impact of Acupuncture on Female Fertility
Numerous studies have shown the effects of acupuncture on female fertility. Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. This can help with the maturation and release of a dominant follicle, and increase the uterine lining. Acupuncture for fertility has also been shown to help with hormone balancing and can aid in endometriosis (blood stasis in Chinese Medicine), polycystic ovarian syndrome, luteal phase defect, increased levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), anovulation (not ovulating), amenorrhea (absence of period), and dysmenorrhea (painful period).
During each acupuncture session you will be asked where you are in your cycle, and any symptoms you may be experiencing. Each session is specifically geared around where you are in your cycle. Your acupuncturist will help you to accurately map out the phases of your cycle, and the timing of intercourse in order to increase your chances of a natural conception.
It can take three months or more to regulate hormones. It is important to know that in more severe situations like PCOS or fibroids it may take longer. The number of sessions a week are determined on where you are in your cycle. Generally, you will be seen more frequently during your follicular phase (day 1- ovulation), and less frequently during your luteal phase. We are only able to move blood to the uterus and ovaries prior to ovulation. Once you have ovulated the treatment protocol focuses on implantation.
Impact of Acupuncture on Male Fertility
Acupuncture treatments can be effective for male infertility as well. It takes approximately three months to regulate hormones and for new sperm to form.
A study that recently appeared in Fertility and Sterility reveals the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment on male fertility. A group of men with unexplained infertility underwent acupuncture treatment two times a week for five weeks. Then, after three days of abstinence, two samples of semen were taken from them (one before the start of regular treatment, and the second after the most recent acupuncture treatment).
The collected samples were compared to a batch of 12 samples taken from an untreated control group. The study indicated that samples from the acupuncture group presented 50% higher sperm motility, higher levels of healthy sperm and 38% better sperm morphology. Although acupuncture treatment cannot treat every sperm malfunction, the study suggested that it can enhance male fertility stemming from poor sperm production and quality.
For as long as there has been acupuncture it has been used to address fertility. Time and again acupuncture for fertility has been shown to help both men and women with their fertility needs, increasing their chances of conceiving naturally or with ART.