Acupuncture for fertility has been practiced effectively since ancient times. Read on to know how it can help you and what you should expect from a treatment plan.
Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine that has a long history and its beginnings go back more than 2000 years. It originated in China and experienced a strong expansion in Asia from the 6th century onwards. And now it’s practiced almost all over the world.
It has proven benefits for many disorders and can also help people experiencing fertility problems. Especially when combined with artificial fertilisation techniques. As a result we can summarise its effects as follows:
- relieve stress and anxiety
- regulate hormonal imbalances
- increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries
What does research say about acupuncture for fertility?
There is increasing evidence supporting the use of acupuncture for the treatment of fertility.
There are studies that show significant and positive results and yet there are others that conclude that there are few benefits. We certainly need more qualitative studies to improve and better understand the benefits acupuncture can have on fertility.
Acupuncture is difficult to study since there are different styles:
- trigger points (activation points)
- cranial acupuncture
- atrial acupuncture
- traditional Chinese acupuncture
- distal acupuncture
Each style uses different techniques. At Puntos de Salud we use a combination of several styles. Distal acupuncture is the main style because in my experience it is the most effective technique to treat a wide variety of disorders. Acupuncture can also be used as an independent treatment, along with Chinese herbal medicine, or in conjunction to standard pharmacological treatments. All these factors further affect the results of the studies.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis it was discovered that acupuncture had a significant effect on improving the birth rates of sub-fertile women who also received IVF treatment or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
In another systematic review, the researchers analysed data from multiple randomised controlled trials. They found some evidence that acupuncture improved menstruation and ovulation in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome when used alone. The researchers also found slight improvements in hormonal levels when acupuncture was used in addition to medications.
Acupuncture for male fertility
Acupuncture, normally combined with Chinese herbal medicines, can also be used to treat male fertility disorders. A small study of two men with varicocele, a common type of male factor infertility, observed interesting benefits. The results of the study indicated that acupuncture can help reduce scrotal temperature when used in combination with Chinese herbal medicine. We need research to understand the relationship between acupuncture and male fertility.
Acupuncture for fertility and stress
Infertility and fertility treatment plans can be very stressful.
Chronic stress can negatively affect pregnancy outcomes. Acupuncture can help reduce stress and anxiety, which, in turn, can improve pregnancy outcomes.
What to expect?
Your acupuncturist must be a professional with training and experience.
In Spain acupuncture and Chinese medicine are not regulated. In this article you can find some tips to find a good acupuncturist.
Acupuncturists use needles that are gently inserted into acupuncture points. These are areas of the body where the flow of blood and energy can be stimulated through the nervous system.
The needles used by your acupuncturist should:
- be made of stainless steel
- have a handle
- be sterile
- be used only once
On your first visit, the acupuncturist will make a complete holistic evaluation and ask you about your medical history and your symptoms. Additionally, he/she will ask you questions that may not seem related to infertility. Take any blood tests or infertility medical tests you have done with you. The results of these tests will be taken into account when determining your treatment plan. You will also discuss the number of sessions you need.
If you have started or will start IVF treatments or any other type of assisted reproductive technologies, your acupuncturist will coordinate the treatment with your doctor’s visits. Acupuncture treatments are always scheduled to coincide with embryo transfer during IVF.
The needles used for treatment are extremely thin and very flexible. You may feel that they are inserted, but it shouldn’t be painful. During treatment, you may feel very relaxed or fall asleep.
Initially your acupuncturist will plan one or more appointments per week and over time the frequency of visits will generally decrease.
You can check out the faq section for more information.
How many sessions do you need for a fertility treatment plan?
It is really difficult to estimate the duration of a treatment plan, this will depend on many factors. As a general rule, you will need at least 3 months of treatment regulate the menstrual cycle and improve or eliminate the symptoms you experience during it.
Choosing an acupuncturist with training and experience is the best way to reduce the risk of complications.
It is also important to discuss your complete medical history with him. That includes medical concerns that are not related to infertility. Some conditions, such as bleeding disorders, may increase the risk of complications.
An experienced acupuncturist will only use disposable and sterile needles to reduce the risk of infection.
Acupuncture can help treat infertility.
It is an excellent natural option that you can use as a treatment independently or along assisted reproductive techniques.