What types of Infertility can Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Treat?
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can treat infertility due to hormonal imbalances, blockages in the fallopian tubes, irregular menstruation, and also patients who are determined to have no cause for their infertility. Acupuncture and TCM is also used in conjunction with Western Treatments such as injectables, IUI and IVF. There have been a multitude of research studies in the past decade showing how Acupuncture and TCM increase the success rate or conventional infertility treatments. Also, the stress relief commonly associated with Acupuncture treatments has a direct link to fertility because stress can reduce the function of the hypothalamic-anterior pituitary- ovarian axis, thus leading to infertility.
How does Acupuncture and TCM help treat infertility?
Acupuncture smoothes and balances the flow of energy (called Qi) and blood in the body. When the Qi and blood are blocked and not flowing smoothly symptoms such as endometriosis, clots, blocked tubes, and premenstrual cramping and pain, headaches, and circulation problems can occur. Also, when there is a deficiency of Qi and blood symptoms such as lack or period, miscarriage, lack of ovulation and irregular hormonal balance occurs. Acupuncture works by directing the Qi and blood to flow smoothly and in the right places and the right times. It helps to restore your body back to its natural balanced self.
Are there any side effects?
There are almost no side effects related to acupuncture, which is why it is so commonly used. The most common side effect is that there will be a bruise where a needle was inserted and it usually goes away within 1-3 days. Most people feel relaxed and grounded after a treatment, though it is recommended to not engage in any vigorous exercise immediately following an acupuncture treatment.
How often are treatments received?
After the initial intake session, treatments are received about once a week, though additional treatments may be done the day before ovulation and two or three days following ovulation. Acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterine lining, tubes and ovaries, allowing the endometrium to be highly receptive to a fertilized egg. Also, the egg quality may be enhanced.
Patients usually come in for treatments for 2-3 menstrual cycles or until they become pregnant. Once a patient does conceive, acupuncture can still be helpful through the first trimester to help against miscarriage and help with morning sickness and other symptoms.
What other modalities may be used in the treatments?
In addition to acupuncture, herbal medicine, flower essences, and aromatherapy may be used. Nutritional counseling is done upon initial visit and continues through the course of treatments. Relaxation breathing and techniques can also be used to help with stress and anxiety.
Who is a good candidate for Acupuncture for infertility?
Many modern researchers have confirmed its benefit in the following areas:
- Regulating menstrual cycles
- Invigorating sperm and enhancing a man’s sperm count and motility
- Enhancing general health
- Reducing stress, controlling anxiety, enhancing sleep and increasing energy levels
- Balancing endocrine systems
- Improving blood flow in pelvic cavity.
- Increasing the chances of pregnancy for women undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Good candidates for acupuncture and herbal medicine are people who have a functional, rather than structural reason for infertility.
Infertility due to hormonal problems, immune disorders, amenorrhoea, irregular menstruation, stress and age related factors all fall into the category of functional infertility.
Stress can dramatically decrease fertility in both men and women. Acupuncture increases fertility by reducing stress.
Acupuncture and in-vitro fertilization
A study, published in the April, 2002 edition of the medical journal Fertility and Sterility, found that acupuncture increases the chances of becoming pregnant for a significant number of women undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Researchers included 160 patients undergoing IVF for the study. The patients, who were all required to have good quality embryos, were evenly and randomly divided into two groups similar in age and diagnosis.
When the patients were examined using ultrasound six weeks after their IVF procedures, the differences in pregnancy rates were notable. In the control group, 26 percent of the women, or 21 out of 80 patients, became pregnant. Of the patients who had received acupuncture treatments, 42 percent of the women, 34 out of 80, became pregnant.
When is Acupuncture NOT the appropriate therapy?
I do not believe this to be the appropriate therapy for infertility involving structural modifications, such as fallopian tube damage or severe endometriosis. Therefore, a complete medical evaluation is recommended to understand the exact nature of the problem.
Men & Infertility
In 50% of infertile couples, the male is the one with the problem. Whether from low motility, low sperm count or erectile dysfunction, men can also benefit from Acupuncture treatments. For any specific concerns, please contact our office for more information to see if you would be a good candidate for acupuncture.re.