Acupuncture for Fertility
There is a sense of loss and mental anguish experienced by women and families struggling with infertility. No matter where you are in your fertility journey, Healing Journey Acupuncture and Wellness is here to help optimize your chances of conception to have a happy and healthy pregnancy.
Not everyone can afford the cost of infertility treatments with a reproductive endocrinologist which can range from hundreds of dollars spent on drugs to tens of thousands spent on advanced procedures such as Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and IVF. In the search for affordable and effective health care, alternative and holistic treatments are gaining wider appeal among the general public. Not only do many become pregnant prior to starting their IVF cycles but others come for acupuncture to enhance their fertility rate during their IUI or IVF cycles. We walk you through your journey counseling on diet, supplements, and also other techniques to utilize at home to enhance fertility.
TCM for fertility has been practiced for thousands of years and includes techniques and practices such as moxibustion, cupping, tai chi, qi gong, and acupuncture. Acupuncture in particular has rapidly grown in acceptance by the general public. Not only is acupuncture valued for stress-relieving and relaxing benefits, but also as a complementary therapy to western fertility treatments. We are familiar with the local office treatment strategies and have worked with mutual patients of Shady Grove Fertility, Mainline Fertility, Reproductive Medical Associates, CYN, and Penn Fertility Care.
A recent study from Tel Aviv University reports, “When combining IUI with TCM treatments, 65.5 percent of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4 percent of the control group, who received no herbal or acupuncture therapy.” For the 4.5 million couples experiencing infertility each year, acupuncture may be the assistance needed to make that dream of a family a reality.
How Does Acupuncture Help Fertility?
According to scientific studies and medical research, Acupuncture can increase fertility by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system, A recent study found that acupuncture, when used in conjunction with Western fertility treatments, increases conception rates by 26%.
Acupucture Can help Fertility With
For women, acupuncture and TCM can:
- Improve the blood flow to the reproductive organs, including the ovaries and uterus
- Regulate hormones, which helps maintain regular menstrual cycles and regular ovulation, and improves the follicular development and the uterine lining
- Enhance the endometrial lining, helping with receptivity and embryo implantation
- Enhance libido
- Reduce the emotional toll (like stress and anxiety) associated with infertility.
- Reduce chronically elevated stress hormones like cortisol negatively impact fertility
- Reduce menstrual or pelvic pain
- Increase implantation rates during an IVF embryo transfer
- Enhance egg quality & increase ovarian responsiveness
- Decrease medication side effects used in assisted reproductive techniques (ART)
For men, acupuncture and TCM can:
- Enhance blood flow to the reproductive organs including the testes
- Improve sperm (count, morphology, and motility)
- Improve libido
- Reduce stress and anxiety
The Science Behind Infertility
Because of the delicate balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and reproductive glands, stress is capable of preventing a woman from ovulating entirely. This 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. Acupuncture infertility treatment counters the effects of stress and cortisol by releasing endorphins in the brain. An herbal impotence cure is also an option for men and can reduce stress.
Hormonal balance does not have to be disrupted by cortisol to cause infertility. The most common cause of female infertility is an ovulation disorder, in which the release of a mature egg from the ovary is prevented, usually because of a hormonal imbalance. Without enough progesterone, for example, the fetus is unable to attach to the uterus. High levels of prolactin, the hormone that stimulates the production of breast milk, can also prevent ovulation.
An imbalance in reproductive hormones can also negatively affect male reproductive function, such as sperm motility and production. However, the fertility drugs that stimulate ovulation in women by regulating the hypothalamus and pituitary, the glands that control reproductive hormones, don’t perform nearly as well for men (success rates are about a third of those for women), nor have they been approved for men by the FDA. Male infertility treatment must take another track. An herbal impotence cure — if impotence is a factor in a couple’s infertility — causes no side effects and has a reported success rate when taken in conjunction with male infertility treatment.
While the fertility drugs commonly prescribed for women can produce a 20 to 60 percent pregnancy rate, they also commonly include such side effects as abdominal tenderness, bloating, fluid retention, weight gain, and nausea. Some studies show that they may also cause breast cancer.
Acupuncture’s Potential to Increase Chances of Conception
“The goal of an infertility treatment from a Chinese medicine perspective is to get pregnant, stay pregnant, and deliver a healthy baby. Among many other benefits, acupuncture can provide increased blood flow to the reproductive system, creating a stronger chance for an egg to be nurtured and the pregnancy to be carried to term.
Acupuncture infertility treatment can improve almost every cause of obstacles with conception. While 40 percent of infertility is caused by problems in the female, another 40 percent is caused by problems in the male, such as low sperm count or motility. The cause of female infertility stems from problems such as anovulation and endometriosis. The remaining 20 percent is caused by unknown factors.
One of the benefits of acupuncture for infertility treatment is that it helps in reducing stress, which is often a large factor in the fertility of both men and women. When people are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released in the brain. This alters the brain’s neurochemical balance, thus changing hormone levels and disrupting the pituitary balance that is key to the reproductive cycle.
If the thyroid is over- or under-functioning, acupuncture can help address the effects on fertility. Acupuncture can also “. . . be used to treat any type of fertility disorder including spasmed tubes. Spasmed tubes are often de-spasmed with acupuncture, though blocked tubes will not respond to acupuncture,” according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Once pregnant, TCM is utilized to help support a woman through this life stage—whether that is emotionally or physically, acupuncture can help with much more than just conception. It can help with morning sickness, nausea, aches and pains from carrying, anxiety reduction prior to childbirth, and insomnia, among many others,” explains Davies.
Acupuncture’s Side Effects in the Treatment of Infertility
Acupuncture for infertility treatment, by contrast, produces few or no side effects while performing the same function as the drugs do: stimulating 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.
Typically male and female patients report having positive side effects like increased energy, better mental outlook, reduced pain, reduced anxiety/depression, and better sleep.
What does treatment look like for Infertility?
Your practitioner will meet with you in your initial intake to discuss everything from your diet, lifestyle, goals, and health history. With this information they will formulate a treatment plan. THe best time to come in for acupuncture is 4-6 months prior to conception. But if you do not find acupuncture until you have already started your treatments with a reproductive endocrinologist, don’t worry! We are there to support you and get you ready for retrieval, IUI, IVF, or any necessary surgical procedures you may need. Our treatments are individualized and range from 1-2 times per week or are targeted at specific points during a woman’s menstrual cycle. For men, we advise 3 months of treatment to make an effective change.
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