Many women undergoing fertility treatments hear about medications and their side effects, various procedures, timing and possible outcomes. However, a topic that is equally important when it comes to assisted fertility procedures is stress. While it’s possible to go through fertility treatments without experiencing a great deal of anxiety and worry, that’s not most women’s experience. And for good reason; there are a number of issues that can be throwing both your life and emotions out of balance. Among them:
- The side effects of fertility medications that can mess up your sleep, cause mood swings and make you feel less than your best.
- Scheduling requirements that are beyond your control. This includes appointments with short notice, remembering when to take your medications or inject yourself and not knowing what you may or may not be doing three weeks from now. To make things worse, you may be juggling a busy or inflexible job, child care or something as simple as getting to the grocery store.
- Having to take time off from work or away from your busy life to go to multiple doctor appointments. And not being comfortable or ready to tell family, friends or co-workers what’s going on.
- The costs associated with fertility treatments can be a source of stress, especially when the outcome is uncertain.
- Wondering if this will even work, especially when the cost of each cycle of treatment can be overwhelming.
The bottom line is that undergoing fertility treatments means that you have to give up control of a number of aspects of your life—and that’s stressful! And to compound your stress, you may have read somewhere about how stress can contribute to infertility. You may feel like there’s no way to reclaim your life during this time.
The weird thing about alleviating stress is that having to do something about it often becomes just one more stressful thing you have to do. You’ve seen the articles telling you to take a Yoga class or meditate or take up an enjoyable activity. All of these things are helpful ways to reduce stress, but you have to participate for them to be effective—and maybe right now you don’t have the energy to do that. I get it.
Acupuncture may offer an answer to this conundrum, in that all you have to do is show up and let your practitioner take care of you. Most people who undergo acupuncture find it incredibly relaxing, because you get to rest on a comfortable table and listen to music while the needles do their thing. A great deal of research has documented that acupuncture works to alleviate stress because it increases the circulation of certain chemicals in your body, called neurotransmitters, that provide a sense of well-being and calm. The calming effects of acupuncture can last for weeks and even months. One study on the effectiveness of acupuncture for patients with anxiety, found that patients found relief; effects that were felt even 10 weeks after their last treatment.
But here’s the added bonus—acupuncture can also help boost your fertility. Scientists have found that acupuncture treatments can help fertility because it can regulate your menstrual cycles, promote ovulation, balance your hormones and increase circulation to your uterus and ovaries. It can also help prepare your uterus for implantation by thickening the endometrial lining. Combined with its ability to reduce stress—which may also enhance fertility—acupuncture is a win/win.
Whether you’re trying to conceive with the help of assisted procedures or without, acupuncture can boost your fertility and reduce stress. And in order to keep acupuncture from becoming just one more stressful thing in your schedule, I work with my patients to determine the right frequency of appointments for them, whether this means one or two treatments a week, or one or two a month.
My passion is helping women in their pregnancy journey, and I understand how sometimes that journey can be incredibly stressful. Fortunately, I have the tools and the knowhow to not only help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with conceiving, but also the ability to support a positive pregnancy outcome. If you’d like to know more about acupuncture for fertility, please contact me.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.