People are often surprised to hear that acupuncture can be used to enhance fertility. On a biophysical level acupuncture and Chinese medicine reduce the body’s stress response, regulating the effects of cortisol on the system, and it increases utierine blood flow, which reduces the symptoms of PMS, endometriosis, PCOS, and other implicating factors affecting fertility. By increasing uterine blood flow, acupuncture is able to increase endometrial receptivity, which increases an embryo’s capability in implanting (this also is one reason why researchers think acupuncture combined with IVF increases IVF success rates).
On a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view acupuncture and Chinese herbs regulate the balance and direction of Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang. If any of these factors are out of balance, the harmony of the human body is disrupted. This can translate into disrupted or painful menstrual cycles, decreased sperm motility and morphology, over or under reaction of one’s immune system, as well as a stressed nervous system.
How it works
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be used to enhance both male and female reproduction. Treatment tends to be more intensive on the female side because, we track the menstrual cycle and adjust treatment accordingly. It is important that a woman gets to know her cycle, especially in regards to the length of the cycle, ovulation symptoms (cervical fluid and other physical presentations), PMS symptoms, quality of the period, as well as her basal body temperature (BBT). Understanding a woman’s cycle will empower the patient in understanding her own fertility as well as help the practitioner know how and when to adjust treatment in order to regulate the cycle, enhance the balance of Qi, blood, Yin and Yang, thus enhancing fertility.
In addition to acupuncture and Chinese medicine it is highly recommended to incorporate the following into one’s lifestyle: exercise, meditation/prayer, therapy or counseling, sufficient sleep, whole foods diet, love, fun, laughter and healthy relationships. Practices such as yoga, meditation/prayer, love and diet strengthen the body’s resistance to stress and illness. This then enhances the body’s reproductive capacity for both men and women, and increases a woman’s ability to obtain pregnancy as well as improves the physical experience of pregnancy and childbirth.
Course of Treatment
In general, when incorporating acupuncture and Chinese medicine into one’s lifestyle for preparing for pregnancy and enhancing fertility, it is suggested that one receives treatment weekly to twice a month for three to six months. Of course, individual protocols and results may vary.
1) Does acupuncture hurt?
Upon insertion of the acupuncture needles people generally do not feel anything. It is, however, important that we obtain “De Qi” which is the achy, pressure like sensation that tells the practitioner that the needle and the body are engaged. There are different theories on feelings of stimulation, however you should let your practitioner know if you ever have a sharp or burning sensation. If this occurs we want to relocate the point.
2) Does insurance cover acupuncture?
It depends upon your insurance company. In the midwest some insurance companies are beginning to reimburse and others have specific acupuncturists that they will cover. Van Airsdale Acupuncture does not directly bill any insurance companies but will provide a receipt to the patient that they can submit.
3) How often do I need to come?
You and your practitioner will decide upon a suitable treatment plan. It always depends upon what your chief complaint is and what your goals and ability are. My general recommendation is three to six visits within a two month period with re-evaluation at each visit.
4) How do I know if it is helping?
Generally, you should see a change in your chief complain within three to six treatments. Sometimes the chief complaint can worsen before it improves, but you should see changes take place within the first few weeks of regular treatment. It depends upon what you are working on and you can bring any concern or question to the practitioner’s attention.
Keep in mind that often people feel their energy increase and even out, their sleep improve, enhanced and more even mood, as well as a general sense of well-being. Many patients make acupuncture a part of their life maintenance and keep regular monthly to bi-monthly visits.