Acupuncture Boosts Fertility Rates

leo-rivas-25956-unsplash.jpg

Infertility is defined as the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in one year, but very few men or women are truly infertile. Most couples who have been given a diagnosis of “infertility” are merely out of balance, and from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, are entirely treatable. For the 1 in 8 couples experiencing infertility each year, acupuncture and TCM may be just what the doctor ordered. In fact, it has been shown that acupuncture boosts fertility rates for couples by enhancing both male and female fertility.

 

Acupuncture and TCM can aid natural fertility in women and men, as well as provide harmonizing support to western medicine assisted reproductive cycles. Acupuncture works in many ways, such as helping to reduce stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system, according to several studies and medical research. The goal of fertility treatments from a Chinese medicine perspective is not just to get pregnant, but to stay pregnant and to have a healthy baby and healthy mother. When used in conjunction with Western fertility treatments, acupuncture increases conception rates by 26%. A recent study from Tel Aviv University reports, “When combining IUI with TCM treatments, 65.5% of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4% of the control group, who received no herbal or acupuncture therapy.” [1]

 

At Phoenix Rising Acupuncture, we use the strengths of acupuncture and other TCM modalities to enhance natural fertility in women and men, and we treat fertility related issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, irregular cycles, annovulatory cycles, thyroid imbalances, elevated FSH, low AMH, decreased ovarian reserve, repeated pregnancy loss, unexplained (idiopathic) infertility, and male factor including men affected with poor sperm count, motility, and/or morphology. We also strengthen and support women as they go through IVF or IUI, as well as other assisted reproductive techniques (ART) by harnessing the true power of both eastern and western medicine.

 

Are there any risks?

We use specialized fertility acupuncture protocols, Chinese herbal medicine, stress reduction techniques, and nutrition/food therapy to effectively treat a whole range of fertility issues. There are minimal risks in using acupuncture for fertility treatment, however the risk of miscarriage may increase if incorrect acupuncture points are used during pregnancy. This is one reason why it is important to choose a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in treating fertility disorders. Acupuncture is generally safe regardless of a person’s medical history.

 

How exactly does acupuncture enhance fertility?

For women, acupuncture and TCM can:

  • Improve the blood flow to the reproductive organs, including the ovaries and uterus

  • Regulate hormones, which helps maintain regular menstrual cycles and regular ovulation, and improves the follicular development and the uterine lining

  • Enhance the endometrial lining, helping with receptivity and embryo implantation

  • Enhance libido

  • Reduce the emotional toll (like stress and anxiety) associated with infertility.

  • Reduce chronically elevated stress hormones like cortisol negatively impact fertility

  • Reduce menstrual or pelvic pain

  • Increase implantation rates during an IVF embryo transfer

  • Enhance egg quality & increase ovarian responsiveness

  • Decrease medication side effects used in assisted reproductive techniques (ART)

For men, acupuncture and TCM can: 

  • Enhance blood flow to the reproductive organs including the testes

  • Improve sperm (count, morphology, and motility)

  • Improve libido

  • Reduce stress and anxiety

 

What does a “typical” acupuncture treatment plan look like?

The licensed acupuncturists and herbalists at Phoenix Rising Acupuncture will create customized fertility treatment plans for every stage of a couple’s/woman’s journey toward parenthood/motherhood. Whether you are trying to conceive naturally or via IVF/IUI, we will consider the individual constitution of each patient to develop treatment plans that promote harmony and balance. We look at each patient individually and develop a specialized treatment plan to increase the chances of conception and healthy full-term pregnancy.

TCM is aimed at correcting imbalances in the body's natural energy flow, promoting an overall sense of well-being. Just like in your regular acupuncture appointments, we will:

  • Listen to your medical history and symptoms

  • Carefully observe any pathological signs and patterns

  • Look at your tongue coating, color, size, shape, etc.

  • Feel your pulse

  • Develop a customized diagnosis and treatment plan going forward including treatment frequency with acupuncture, herbs, and/or other TCM modalities, supplements, dietary and lifestyle recommendations

 

When should I come in for my initial consultation and treatment?

At Phoenix Rising Acupuncture, we take pride in the fact that we will meet our patients wherever they are in their fertility journey, whether we have months to work together before trying to conceive, or if they are planning an embryo transfer the very next day.

Natural Fertility Support

Ideally, if you are trying to conceive (TTC) naturally, we would like you to come in about three to six months in advance so that we may have time to support healthy follicles and superior egg and sperm quality; balance hormones and regulate the menstrual cycle; and get your body as a whole in the best condition for conception to occur. It takes about 120 days for eggs to go through their maturation process and for sperm roughly 90 days. Starting acupuncture treatment early on should increase quality and quantity of these important factors in the fertility process. While this may seem like a time-consuming investment if you’re already feeling the “clock” ticking, it is no question that it will be worthwhile.

IVF / IUI Optimization

For IVF/IUI optimization, beginning treatments early in a cycle or on a break is preferable. Ideally, we would like to start treatments three to six months before the planned IUI/IVF cycle, as well. However, if this is not possible, we should still see good results with treatment while you are in the cycle, and we will often increase frequency of visits.

Male Factor

Regardless of the cause of infertility, we also recommend that the male partner come in for treatments. Men should be treated on a weekly basis until conception occurs or sperm is collected for use, and we suggest they start acupuncture treatments right away.

[1] https://www.aftau.org/weblog-medicine--health?&storyid4704=1437&ncs4704=3

[2] http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(01)03273-3/abstract

[3]http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1472648315000929

[4] http://www.bmj.com/content/336/7643/545