There are many factors that can lead to fertility issues, in both men and women. Unfortunately, sometimes there is no solution. Other times, it may be that the right solution simply hasn’t been tried out. In the US, acupuncture for fertility often falls into the latter category.
The effectiveness of acupuncture as a fertility treatment has been proven time and again, but this method is still relatively unknown in the West. The aim of this article is to bring awareness about how acupuncture can help with fertility and here are five key ways it does so.
1. Creating a Healthy Emotional Environment for Conception
One of the long-term benefits of acupuncture treatments is the improvement of emotional and mental health – acupuncture can help with stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. How does that relate to fertility?
While the studies regarding the link between stress and infertility are inconclusive because it is difficult to determine and quantify stress, people under a lot of stress are less likely to get pregnant. In other words, we can’t prove the specific physiological relationship between stress and infertility, but we do know the general effects stress has – a lower likelihood of getting pregnant. Add to that the fact that infertility causes extra stress.
That’s the first way how acupuncture can help with fertility – it can help you regulate your emotional and mental health, creating an environment that is conducive to getting pregnant. However, acupuncture for fertility is much more than stress management and we should discuss that.
2. Balancing the Hormones that Regulate Menstrual Cycles
When it comes to fertility acupuncture treatments that are focused on the reproductive system, one of the first steps is managing your menstrual cycle – acupuncture can help regulate the release of hormones that are responsible for menstruation. We balance each phase of your cycle: menstruation, the follicular phase, and pre and post ovulation. So why is this important?
The third phase of your menstrual cycle is ovulation, when the dominant follicle, the one that typically houses your biggest and healthiest egg, is released into the fallopian tube where it can be fertilized. So, when your menstrual cycle is infrequent, your body is not producing the eggs you need to conceive.
Often, with disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), one of its symptoms is irregular menstruation, which can manifest as oligomenorrhea (inconsistent periods) and amenorrhea (the absence of periods for months or longer). One of the most common treatments for PCOS is hormonal birth control, which is clearly not an option if you wish to get pregnant.
Another treatment option are drugs that induce ovulation, but ovulation-inducing drugs are often not a viable long-term option. However, it has been clinically demonstrated that acupuncture for fertility is a safe and effective treatment for PCOS.
Additionally, weight gain is another symptom of PCOS, with reports estimating that up to 80% of women suffering from PCOS in the US are overweight or obese. Some studies have found that acupuncture is an effective treatment for obesity-type polycystic ovary syndrome, and thus, acupuncture for fertility also has the added benefit of metabolic regulation.
In short, acupuncture treatments help you ovulate regularly and aid follicular development, thereby increasing your chances of conception. This treatment can be effective if you hope to get pregnant naturally and as preparation for assisted reproduction methods.
3. Improving Blood Flow and Oxygen to the Ovaries
Another way that acupuncture helps with fertility is by improving the environment for the ovaries with blood flow and oxygenation. Infertility is sometimes caused by the ovaries producing fewer eggs and/or eggs of lower quality, in turn lowering the chances of getting pregnant.
There are many factors that can contribute to the quantity and quality of eggs being produced, with age being one of the major ones. By improving the blood flow to the ovaries, acupuncture can help with egg production.
This effect of fertility acupuncture has mainly been studied in relation to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and it has been shown that acupuncture is beneficial to women undergoing IVF cycles. However, this effect is not limited to IVF – a higher quality and quantity of eggs also helps with natural conception.
4. Enhancing the Uterine Lining
A common fertility issue is low endometrium receptivity, i.e., the chance that a fertilized embryo will be able to attach itself to the uterine lining. Typically, the uterine lining can receive the embryo 7 – 11 days after ovulation; this brings us back to menstrual cycles – without a regular cycle, you will have fewer days when the embryo can be attached to the uterine lining.
But even if your periods are regular, your uterine lining can still be thin and not receptive to embryos. This is another benefit of acupuncture for fertility – it can increase the blood flow to your uterus and increase the thickness of the lining, leading to a higher chance of embryo implementation. Again, this treatment can help with both attempts at natural conception and assisted reproduction techniques.
A Holistic Approach to Fertility
At this point in the article, you may be under the impression that acupuncture methods for fertility issues overlap – and that’s because they do. Acupuncture is a holistic treatment method and its purpose is to improve your chances of conceiving; in this case, that involves:
- Regulating your emotional state
- Regulating your menstrual cycle
- Improving the blood flow to the ovaries
- Improving the blood flow to the uterus
Comprehensive acupuncture for fertility treatments should attempt to treat any and all causes of infertility and not simply focus on a specific subset.
5. Acupuncture for Male Fertility Issues
Until now, we’ve only discussed how acupuncture for fertility can help women, but men are part of the equation too, aren’t they? Here, unfortunately, the evidence for the beneficial effects of fertility acupuncture is less undeniable.
Some studies have shown that acupuncture can help with sperm motility and concentration, but the overall findings, at least at this moment, are that there is insufficient evidence to reach a medical consensus and that more clinical studies are needed. Thus, it may be that just a bit more time is needed.
Is Acupuncture for Fertility Always the Solution?
In this article, we’ve discussed the five key benefits of acupuncture for fertility but it is important to note one thing – acupuncture is not always the best primary treatment method for infertility. In some cases, Western medicinal practices deserve to take the forefront.
But even in those situations, acupuncture can be used as complementary treatment, either to enhance the effectiveness of standard methods or help deal with the side effects. Thus, a professional acupuncturist will perform a comprehensive medical diagnosis before recommending treatment and include gynecologists and endocrinologists when they are needed.
And you get all of this at BH Acuhealth Clinic. We are a licensed acupuncture clinic in Beverly Hills and specialize in fertility acupuncture services – we give compassion and holistic care to every patient. Make an appointment and we will take every step to help make your wish come true.