I often surprise people by telling them that acupuncture doesn`t cure anything! Instead, what it does is trigger the body to cure itself." Oran Kivity BAc MBAcC (overseas)
When you ring on a doorbell, someone opens the door. The doorbell is a signal but it`s not actually what opens the door. It is someone inside the house. Acupuncture is a trigger too. It`s a catalyst for an overall improvement in the function of the whole body. The signal comes from outside, but the changes come from within.
You could say that acupuncture teaches the body to do something it hasn`t been doing. This new behaviour can continue even after the acupuncture has been discontinued. This is in direct contrast to modern medications, which impose a paradigm on the body that is lost when the drug is withdrawn. This "whole body education" effect is a key to unlock your body`s potential to conceive. This is especially relevant for couples who are over forty as acupuncture stimulates overall health to affect reproductive health, treating the root to affect the branch.
Are there acupuncture points for infertility?
Acupuncturists have been writing about infertility treatments since at least the 11th century. Quite a few acupuncture points are discussed in the medical literature but in some ways itemising and using only these is missing the point.
The primary goal of acupuncture is to treat the root cause of your health problems, the underlying energy imbalance. To do this there are many suitable acupuncture points, not just those discussed in relation to infertility.
The secondary goal of acupuncture is to treat the branch, the manifestation of the root imbalance. At this point it may be helpful to use points known to have an effect on male or female infertility.
Can acupuncture be used on its own to treat infertility?
Yes, acupuncture can be used on its own. In practice, it is often combined with dietary and lifestyle advice, exercise, supplementation and herbal medicine.
Infertility treatment takes a minimum of three months, during which time we expect to see changes in the menstrual pattern indicating improved fertility. Treating the root is not a quick process. It can take more than a year of regular weekly treatment to improve things.
Can acupuncture be used to complement In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)?
Recent research has found that combining IVF with acupuncture greatly enhances the chance of conceiving and carrying a healthy pregnancy. In one study, women who underwent acupuncture throughout their IVF treatment were almost twice as likely to fall pregnant as those who went through IVF alone.
These findings could be due to a combination of the enhancing effect of acupuncture on the function of the reproductive system together with increased relaxation and relief from the side effects of the medication.
IVF treatment is highly technical and highly expensive, yet it can be effectively supported by complementary procedures in acupuncture. It is very common for women who are about to undergo IVF to contact us for acupuncture to improve their chances, usually at the last minute!
Without doubt, even one or two sessions before egg retrieval or transfer will be of some benefit, particularly in mitigating the abdominal discomfort associated with the medication and physical procedures involved but it is far more beneficial for the hopeful mother to start treatment a minimum of three months before the start of the IVF cycle. This gives the acupuncture time to improve the terrain.
Fertility-focused acupuncture treatment has been found to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, balance hormone levels, regulate the menstrual cycle and help improve the lining of the uterus and quality of eggs released. Additionally, conditions such as polycystic ovaries and endometriosis have also been shown to improve. Benefits to male fertility have also been found with positive effects on sperm count, morphology and mobility.
As trying to conceive can often be a stressful experience, many find that undergoing a course of acupuncture reduces associated problems such as anxiety, stress and insomnia and helps to improve the chances of pregnancy by improving well being in general.
Blood Flow to Uterus
An ample blood supply to the uterus is important for fertility because the blood creates the endometrium – the lining of the uterus. A fertilised egg must securely implant in the endometrium in order for a pregnancy to develop. If the endometrium is too thin, it is more difficult for an egg to properly implant.
Numerous studies, including Elisabet Stener-Victorin`s 1996 study published in the journal Human Reproduction, have shown that acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus thereby boosting fertility.
Regularises Menstrual Cycle
Women with irregular menstrual cycles may find their fertility impaired because their irregularity makes it difficult to predict when or if they are ovulating. Studies have shown that acupuncture can regularise the menstrual cycle. In one study conducted at the University of Virginia by Lisa Pastore in 2008, several women whose periods had been absent altogether restarted after acupuncture treatment. Many became pregnant.
There is evidence that stress can impact fertility. One study in Berkeley, California found that stress hormones (called glucocorticoids) can suppress sperm count, ovulation and sexual activity. Acupuncture balances the autonomic nervous system and triggers the release of endorphins, both of which can help the patient feel calm and relaxed.