Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has improved greatly in recent days, and increasing numbers of couples have benefited from the recent technologies. At the same time, more and more people are turning to Acupuncture, either alone or in conjunction with their Western treatments to improve their chances of conceiving and delivering healthy children.
Acupuncture consists of gentle insertion and stimulation of thin disposable sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body. Over 2000 acupuncture points on the human body connect with 14 major pathways called meridians. This meridians conduct Qi or energy between the surface of the body and internal organs. It is the Qi that regulates spiritual, emotional and physical balance. When the flow of Qi is disrupted through poor health habits or other circumstances, pain and/or disease can result. Acupuncture helps to keep the normal flow of this energy unblocked, thereby increasing a couples chance to conceive. Acupuncture is holistic, seeing the inter connectedness of all the body’s systems. When healthy and balanced, you are more likely to get pregnant and produce a healthy child. The goal of acupuncture is to return your body to a state of health. The effects are cumulative; they take time; the results get better and better.
The goal of an infertility treatment from acupuncture perspective is not just to get pregnant but to stay pregnant and to have a healthy baby.
BENEFITS OF FERTILITY ACUPUNCTURE:
Improves the function of the ovaries which allows the development of better quality of eggs and embryos
Can regulate hormones and ovulation
Increases blood flow to the uterus
Helps thicken uterine lining if it is too thin
Strengthens the immune system
Lessens side effects of drugs
And for the men:
Improves semen quality and quantity
THE TREATMENT PROTOCOL
When you are doing Acupuncture exclusively, you may need to give it 3-6 months to ready your body for pregnancy. It takes that long. If you plan to combine Acupuncture with other treatments, the treatment begins 3 months before fertility procedures commence and continues throughout your western treatment. Ideally, patients come twice a week. If the problem is sperm quality or quantity, this plan is useful for men as well as women because the period of sperm maturation takes between 70-90 days. While these procedures are ideal, many people come in just prior to IVF, or during an IVF cycle, and they have still had improvement.
If a woman is undergoing IVF, woman should get treated on the day of the transfer, before and after, or as close as possible. Women are also encouraged to continue with treatment after a positive pregnancy test once a week for the first trimester to help prevent miscarriage. Women who have more difficulty getting pregnant have a slightly higher rate of miscarriage.
Procedures other than acupuncture that might be included are: cupping therapy; electric stimulation; and (moxa) moxibustion. Acupuncture points and protocols vary from patient to patient because each person has different needs. For example, with a woman suffering from endometriosis, we would focus on moving the blood, whereas with a woman who is not ovulating, we would concentrate on nourishing the blood. Treatment is completely designed for you as an individual, depending on the factors noted above, health and goals.
Liang, Lisang. Acupuncture and IVF. Colorado: Blue Poppy, 2003.
Magarelli, Paul et al. “Acupuncture:Impact on Pregnancy Outcomes in IVF Patients,” 12th World Congress on Human Reproduction, Venice, Italy, March, 2005.
Ibid. “Acupuncture & IVF Poor Responders: A Cure?” Proceedings from the 2004 Pacific Coast Reproductive Society annual meeting in Palm Springs, 2004.
Ibid. “Acupuncture and Good Prognosis IVF Patients” Proceedings from the 2004 ASRM meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2004.
Oliwenstein, Lori. “On Fertile Ground” Psychology Today November/December, 2005, pgs 64-65