Deciding to become pregnant is an exciting time! However, sometimes conceiving isn’t as easy or simple as it should be. Whether you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, are trying to conceive naturally, or are using the help of Assisted Reproductive Technology, acupuncture can play an important role in that process. Got questions about enhancing your fertility with acupuncture? We’ve got answers!
Acupuncture is just a bunch of fine needles placed in my body. How can it actually help me get pregnant?
Good question! It does seem odd that acupuncture would help with fertility issues. However, the needles are placed at points on your body that have specific effects. In fact, research studies have found that acupuncture treatments can increase the amount of blood flow to your uterus, increase the thickening of the uterine lining, and stabilize your hormones, which helps regulate your menstrual cycles and promote ovulation. In addition, scientists have found that regular acupuncture treatments help increase the success of clinical pregnancy (one that’s confirmed by hormone levels or ultrasound).
Can acupuncture help treat specific conditions that are making it harder for me to become pregnant?
Yes. Acupuncture helps to regulate your reproductive hormones through the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis in your brain. As a result, it can help with conditions that are related to hormonal imbalances that affect your fertility, such as luteal or follicular phase defects, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), irregular menstrual cycles, anovulation, and amenorrhea (lack of menstruation). Essentially, acupuncture can help balance your hormones at their source—your brain!
I’m currently going through IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization). Can acupuncture help me?
Many women who are trying to become pregnant with Assisted Reproductive Technology have turned to acupuncture for help and had success. Whether you’re undergoing IVF, Frozen Embryo Transfers (FET), Donor Insemination (DI), or Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), acupuncture can be a valuable adjunct therapy. Researchers have found that acupuncture treatment leading up to and on the day of embryo transfer improves pregnancy and live birth rates. Our goal in working with ART patients is to:
• Minimize the negative side effects of fertility medications
• Improve the circulation of blood to your uterus
• Enhance implantation (uterine receptivity)
• Reduce stress and anxiety
• Increase the comfort of your ART procedures
We acknowledge that Assisted Reproductive Technology can be a drain on your body, your emotions, and your finances. Acupuncture is well-known for its ability to relieve stress and reduce anxiety, which is a welcome benefit, especially while you’re undergoing these procedures.
Is it okay to have acupuncture while I’m seeing other doctors for fertility or a western medicine fertility specialist?
Yes! We work with providers at a number of fertility clinics in Vancouver and are happy to coordinate our care with your doctor. Acupuncture can be performed while you’re taking fertility medications. In addition to working with your doctor, at BodaHealth we believe that acupuncture is a great complement to massage therapy, naturopathic medicine, and osteopathy.
My doctor has told me that I have something called Diminished Ovarian Reserve. Can acupuncture help me?
Possibly. If you have Diminished Ovarian Reserve or Premature Ovarian Failure, it means that your fertility problems are related to the quantity and/or quality of your eggs, which can certainly cause problems. For an answer to this question, let’s turn again to the research. A number of studies have determined that both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help your pituitary and hypothalamus glands to restore ovulation, and regulate reproductive hormone levels. In addition, we know through the research that acupuncture improves blood flow to your reproductive organs to help regulate your cycle, thicken the uterine lining, and improve the quality of your eggs. An analysis of a number of studies concluded that acupuncture is actually more effective than hormone replacement therapy in decreasing FSH, increasing estradiol, and can lead to the resumption of menses in some women.
So if you’ve been told you have Diminished Ovarian Reserve or Premature Ovarian Failure, infertility isn’t necessarily a given. Our acupuncture practitioners will work with you with the goals of restoring ovarian function, improving the quality of your eggs, and ultimately to become pregnant.
What about acupuncture for male fertility? Can it help?
When fertility issues arise, the current statistics show that male infertility issues are a factor in almost 50% of the cases. However, there’s encouraging news when it comes to treating male fertility problems. Research has documented when males are treated with acupuncture, sperm motility, fertilization rate, and embryo quality were improved during Assisted Reproductive Technology. Acupuncture can also:
- Increase sperm morphology; the size and shape
- Promote better erectile function and sex drive
- Reduce prostate problems
- Decrease pelvic pain
Beyond acupuncture, are there other treatments offered at BodaHealth that may help with fertility?
Yes, we’re glad you asked! In an effort to offer effective, safe, and natural treatments to enhance your fertility, we may prescribe Chinese herbs, dietary supplements, nutritional strategies and osteopathic care. Chinese herbs are used to treat the source of your condition and support your acupuncture treatments. Dietary supplements and nutritional therapy may be used to treat any dietary deficiencies or imbalances that may be affecting your fertility. The specific plan for your treatment will depend on your individual needs.
If I choose to have acupuncture treatments to enhance my fertility, when should I start? What’s involved?
That’s a great question with different answers for everyone! If you decide that acupuncture is going to be a part of your fertility journey, there’s no right or wrong time to start. Some patients begin treatments a year before they start trying to conceive. Others have come to acupuncture after several IVF cycles. The answer is whatever is right for you.
For the best results, we usually recommend an acupuncture treatment one to two times a week in each phase of your cycle for three months. Once you become pregnant, we suggest continuing treatments, not only to support the health of the pregnancy but to support your health during the pregnancy. Acupuncture can alleviate some of the complications associated with your pregnancy, such as nausea and vomiting, and edema. It can also be used effectively for miscarriage prevention. The bottom line is that our practitioners are ready and committed to working with you from preconception to postpartum care. If you’d like to know more about fertility acupuncture or get started with treatments, give our office a call.