This is part 2 of a 2 part series on acupuncture. Part one reviews the basics of acupuncture, how it works and what it treats.
Acupuncture for fertility
Conception rate and pregnancy health is enhanced by acupuncture. Any woman planning a pregnancy can benefit from acupuncture; it can also improve conception rates for women with various fertility concerns, such as repeat miscarriage, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), thyroid abnormalities, or idiopathic (unknown) causes for infertility. Women who are starting or have already begun various forms of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) like IUI or IVF can also benefit from acupuncture for fertility, as can men with infertility.
According to Erin Borbet of Grow Wellness Acupuncture, the ideal time for women to start acupuncture treatments is at least 3-6 months before starting to try to get pregnant. This allows for time to regulate the menstrual cycle and prime the uterus and ovaries by increasing blood flow to these areas, improving the likelihood of conception. However, starting acupuncture after months of trying to conceive can also prove helpful.
Acupuncture not only improves blood circulation to the reproductive organs, but it also can regulate and normalize an otherwise impaired neuroendocrine system. This allows for increased release of hormones from various parts of the brain to the ovaries, adrenal glands and other organs necessary for reproduction, thus improving the chance of conception and successful pregnancy.
Acupuncture and fertility treatments
Acupuncture can be used as an adjunct treatment to IVF and IUI, among other assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). Studies have found improvement in the success of ARTs, as measured by number of successful live births, when acupuncture was used on the day of egg transfer. Acupuncture is also profoundly helpful to minimize the stress and anxiety often experienced while trying to conceive.
Acupuncture in pregnancy
Once pregnant, acupuncture through the first trimester can help to minimize the chance of miscarriage, and can minimize the nausea and vomiting of early pregnancy. It also can benefit pregnant women with anxiety and/or depression, and can minimize various pregnancy associated pains, headaches and other discomforts.
What about acupuncture for male infertility?
Men with infertility can similarly improve the chance of conception through acupuncture. Sperm quality and motility improve with acupuncture. The number of structural defects in sperm, and the amount of healthy sperm ejaculated improved following ten sessions of acupuncture. Men with sperm-DNA-fragmentation can similarly benefit from acupuncture.
Is acupuncture safe?
Yes, acupuncture is safe when performed by a licensed professional. Needles are as thin as a piece of hair, sterile, and disposed of after each use. There are minimal if any side effects, such as possible very minor bruising at the site of needle injection, which is harmless.
In addition to acupuncture, your provider will likely also recommend lifestyle modifications, dietary changes and select herbal supplements to assist with conception, to help sustain a healthy pregnancy, and for overall health and wellness.
To find a licensed, trained acupuncturist in your area, please visit the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Please check my resources page for more fertility support information and referrals.
Until next time, be well and take care of yourself.