By Chris Haskell, L.A.C.
Acupuncture may be familiar to most of us as a way to relax or reduce pain. However, it is also used successfully to promote fertility in both women and men. In China, acupuncturists have been treating fertility problems for thousands of years. In the United States, acupuncturists have been integral parts of fertility clinics for over ten years. The following is a list of the various ways acupuncture can increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Acupuncture needles stimulate oxytocin production which in turn regulates the parasympathetic nervous system, creating a sense of calm and peace. This is particularly helpful when dealing with the stress that infertility can cause. IVF patients who receive stress reducing acupuncture treatments have over a 20% increased chance of achieving pregnancy. (1)
Acupuncture thickens the lining of the uterus promoting the ideal environment for implantation. Electro acupuncture “increases the uterine artery blood flow,” enhancing fertilization. Fertilization is therefore enhanced. (2)
Acupuncture increases blood flow to the ovaries, enhancing the ovulatory response.This is helpful to women who have PCOS as well as women who are going through an IUI or an IVF cycle. (3)
Acupuncture regulates the menstrual cycle. The increased blood flow to reproductive organs improves their function. Clients with concerns about their cycle being too short or too long, too light or too heavy will find their cycles can be regulated. (4)
Acupuncture increases low sperm count by treating both stress and inflammation. The effects of stress and inflammation can lower sperm count and negatively impact morphology and motility. Balancing the body and mind through acupuncture and Chinese herbs can significantly improve the health of a sperm sample. (5)
A typical treatment consists of a discussion about the client’s fertility history and then a 25 minute treatment. The number of points used per treatment can vary, but 10-12 needles are typical. The use of these very thin needles helps to strengthen weakness by redirecting stagnant energy in the body. In this way, the body is rebalanced and stabilized, creating a sense of physical and emotional peace. Many clients are apprehensive the first time they have acupuncture however acupuncture is virtually painless. After they realize how pain free the treatments are, they enjoy and look forward to their sessions. Dealing with infertility can be a very lonely road. Acupuncture sessions are often the only medical space that clients find both emotional and physical support. Developing a relationship of trust with your acupuncturist can make a very difficult journey less painful.
1. The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: a pilot study. Westergaard LG, Mao Q, Krogslund M, Sandrini S, Lenz S, Grinsted J.Fertil Steril. 2006 May; 85(5):1341-‐6. Epub 2006 Apr
2. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-‐acupuncture: Steiner-‐Victorin et. al. Human Reproduction 1996 June; 11(6):1314-‐7
3.Substitution of Acupuncture for HCG in Ovulation Induction Source: Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 17 (2):119-‐121,1997
4. Luteal Phase Acupuncture and IVF Dieterle S, Ying G, Hatzmann W, Neuer A. Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Witten/Herdecke, Dortmund, Germany.
5. Does acupuncture treatment affect sperm density in males with very low sperm count? A pilot study. Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Lederman H, Bartoov B. Source: Institute of Chinese Medicine, Tel Aviv, Israel.