Acupuncture treatment for infertility is a great modality to help couples conceive naturally or to help the success of ART (assisted reproductive therapy) such as IUI or IVF. Couples are treated with appropriate acupuncture protocols to fit the constitution of each person. Hair analysis and saliva testing are used to look at hormone levels during a woman’s cycle. Regulating a woman’s cycle, reducing stress, applying exercise, and incorporating a whole foods diet can create an environment for optimal hormone functioning.
With the help of acupuncture and herbal medicine a lot of disorders such as Infertility, postpartum disorders, premenstrual disorders, irregular periods, heavy bleeding, endometriosis, hormone related emotional imbalances, pelvic pain, menopausal symptoms can be treated
Why Consider Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is often helpful where conventional medicine is not. James K. Rotchford, M.D., a founding member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, finds it helps as many as 80 percent of people. These statistics are general, however, as there isn’t a lot of specific data on infertility treatments at this time.
Good candidates for trying medical acupuncture are people who have a functional, rather than a structural reason for infertility (for example, damaged fallopian tubes are structural). Men or women with functional infertility would be encouraged to try acupuncture in addition to their standard medical treatment. Generally speaking, around 10 visits with a licensed acupuncture provider will let you determine if it can be of help to you.
Along this same line, Dr. Hu recommends Chinese herbs in conjunction with acupuncture. In traditional Chinese medicine, the practitioner always combines herbs in order to produce a certain effect. There are many combinations of Chinese herbs that have been lauded as improving fertility in both males and females. she does caution, however, that it’s best to tailor the herbal recipe to the individual, rather than to the condition.
Can acupuncture be used to treat infertility?
Acupuncture, frequently combined with herbal medicine, has been used for centuries to treat some causes of infertility. For example, acupuncture and herbs will not work to address tubal adhesions which can occur as a result of pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis. However, in this situation, an individual could still benefit from acupuncture and herbs because of the potential effect of improved ovarian and follicular function. Additionally, it is shown that acupuncture can increase blood flow to the endometrium, helping to facilitate a thick, rich lining.
When should acupuncture treatment begin?
Acupuncture is similar to physical therapy in that it is a process oriented method of medical intervention. It is better to do more than less. Patients are commonly treated for three to four months before an insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or donor-egg transfer. This period of treatment seems to have a therapeutic effect. In a study by Stener-Victorin et al from the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fertility Centre, Scandinavia and University of Gothenburg, women are encouraged to receive acupuncture treatments pre and post embryo transfer. Clinical observations from the Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness suggest that the most effective fertility treatments involve a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and traditional medical interventions. However, conception does sometimes occur when acupuncture and herbal medicines are used without traditional medical interventions.
When should I stop getting acupuncture?
Typically most miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy. Therefore, treatment of patients may often last through week twelve to help prevent miscarriage.
Are the acupuncture points different after an insemination, IVF, or donor-egg transfer than before?
Your acupuncturist should not place needles in the abdomino-pelvic area after insemination or transfer. There are 6 contraindicated acupuncture points which should be avoided when the patient is pregnant or pregnancy is suspected. These include Gallbladder 21, Stomach 12, Large Intestine 4, Spleen 6, Bladder 60, Bladder 67 and any points on the lower abdomen.
What are the risks of using acupuncture?
There are minimal risks when using acupuncture for fertility treatment. A risk of miscarriage may develop if incorrect acupuncture points are used when a woman is pregnant. This is one reason why those wishing to include acupuncture in their treatment regimen should only be treated by an acupuncturist who specializes in treating fertility disorders. Acupuncture is not contraindicated for anyone regardless of their pathology or what medications they are taking.
What types of fertility patients typically get acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be used to treat any type of fertility disorder including spasmed tubes. (Spasmed tubes are often de-spasmed with acupuncture, though blocked tubes will not respond to acupuncture). Acupuncture is often combined with herbs to treat elevated follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), repeated pregnancy loss, unexplained (idiopathic) infertility, luteal phase defect, hyperprolactinemia (when not caused by a prolactinoma), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with annovulatory cycles, and male factor including men affected with sperm-DNA-fragmentation.