Based on over 2500 years of use, acupuncture was developed in response to the theory that there are special meridian points on the body. These points are connected to the internal organs and vital energy or ‘qi’ flows along the meridian lines. According to this theory, issues are caused by interrupted energy flow and inserting and twirling needles restores normal flow.
Natural Fertility Support
Documented in Chinese texts, acupuncture has been used as a fertility treatment as early as 11AD and there is an increasing amount of research evidence which demonstrates that acupuncture may be beneficial for:
- Regulating the menstrual cycle
- Improving blood circulation to the uterus
- Improving blood flow to the ovaries
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Pelvic inflammation
- Reducing stress
Male Factor Infertility
Acupuncture has been shown to have high success rates for male fertility:
A 2005 study conducted by Shanghai University in China found that of the men who participated, those who had acupuncture had an increased percentage of sperm in their semen and the sperm structure was healthier than their counterparts who did not receive acupuncture.
Assisted Conception Support
Studies also demonstrate acupuncture to be very successful when used alongside IVF treatments:
A German study in 2002 showed that of 80 women who underwent IVF treatment and received acupuncture, 34 women got pregnant. Of 80 women who had IVF without acupuncture only 21 fell pregnant.
An American study more recently found that out of 114 women who had IVF and acupuncture 51% got pregnant compared to only 36% without acupuncture.
You would generally expect to see your acupuncturist at least twice a month, pre-ovulation and post-ovulation. They will use specific points based on both your initial consultation and which part of your menstrual cycle you’re in.
In the case of IVF, ICSI or IUI, regular weekly or fortnightly treatments at least 2 months before transfer are encouraged, because of the cumulative effect of acupuncture. You will then need to see your acupuncturist just before and after transfer.
Due to the complexities of infertility, conception is not guaranteed and can sometimes take as little as a few weeks or over a year to achieve. The benefit of fertility acupuncture is that it’s unique to the patient and a treatment plan will be drawn up based on the complete history taken at your first session. Diet and lifestyle factors will also be examined and a specially trained acupuncturist will take time to establish the best course of treatment for you and your partner.
What to expect?
Many people are apprehensive about acupuncture, but very quickly discover treatment to be tranquil and enjoyable. When the points are first stimulated, the feeling is often described as ‘tingly’ or ‘a dull ache’. In most cases, acupuncture will generally leave you feeling relaxed, although individual responses to treatment vary and some patients do find acupuncture to be particularly energising too.
There are many more studies available that document the favourable effects of acupuncture for various fertility issues. Although, continued research on a larger scale is still needed, it’s clear that many people benefit hugely from acupuncture during what can be a stressful time. Patients report feeling calm, supported and more positive about the future, which provides a sound base for realising their dream of starting, or expanding, their family.
Paul Adkins Lic.Ac., BA(Hons), 1st Dan, FEA, MBAcC