Acupuncture for Fertility
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK FOR FERTILITY?
Think of fertility acupuncture like gardening. First, we have to till the field and prepare the soil to plant the seed, so that we can harvest the crop. How’s that for an analogy?
Fertility acupuncture helps to prepare your body for conception. Most women seeking fertility help fall into the 25% category of unexplained infertility. If this is you, then acupuncture can help! Most of my patients in this category conceive within 3 – 6 cycles.
Acupuncture helps to balance hormones, and regulate your period, so that ovulation is more predictable. I recommend patients track BBT, use OPK’s and become familiar with ovulation signs such as changes in cervical mucous. Treatments are done once weekly during each phase of the cycle – luteal phase, ovulatory phase, follicular phase, and menstrual phase.
During the initial consultation, and over the course of your fertility acupuncture treatment, we will track your menstrual cycles, ovulation window, basal body temperature and other fertility signs. We will discuss nutrition, supplements, vitamins, herbs, and I will provide advice to optimize a healthy lifestyle geared towards conception. I will also give guidance and tips for conception such as timing of intercourse and other fertility secrets.
If there are any problems keeping you from conceiving, acupuncture and herbs will be used to correct these first, and restore balance and harmony in the body. Acupuncture can resolve such problems as:
- Irregular Periods, Amenorrhea, Dysmenorrhea, Endometriosis, Anovulation
- Hormone Balancing to optimize AMH, LH, Estrogen, Progesterone
- Thyroid/Adrenal Issues
- Fibroids, Ovarian Cysts, PCOS
- Prevent Habitual Miscarriage
- Advanced Maternal Age & Low Ovarian Reserve
STRESS AND INFERTILITY
Stress is a big factor in infertility – the good news is that acupuncture is fantastic at reducing stress. The process of trying to conceive itself is stressful. Each month can be a roller coaster ride of emotions, from hopeful for conception to disappointment when period arrives. Acupuncture reduces general life stressors, like work related stress, as well as the stress surrounding TTC.
Stress can affect the level of many hormones and can cause endocrine disorders. The stress response on the pituitary-adrenal axis affects the levels of gonadotropins, thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, T4), Growth Hormone, and Prolactin. Stress can cause a gonadal dysfunction leading to anovulation, irregular menstruation, and decreased sperm count in men.
Acupuncture is an effective compliment to assisted reproductive techniques. Fertility acupuncture has been proven to increase the success of IVF or IUI treatments, and is highly recommended by most fertility clinics.
The fundamentals of preconception acupuncture focuses on enriching Jing essence, optimizing egg & sperm quality and addressing implantation issues, to help couples achieve their full fertility potential and conceive a healthy baby.
Ideally, acupuncture is done at weekly intervals for 3 cycles or more to help produce quality eggs, before beginning the IVF injections for retrieval. The goal is to improve the overall health, egg quality, and uterine receptivity to best prepare the body for conception. Egg quantity is determined at birth and cannot be altered with acupuncture.
When it is time for embryo transfer, acupuncture is done the day prior to help increase blood flow to the uterus, as well as reduce anxiety. After transfer, you will rest the remainder of that day. Some IVF clinics recommend 48 hours bed rest. Post IVF acupuncture session is done 2 days after transfer, and assists in relaxing uterine cramping and relieving stress.
Now that you’ve conceived, congratulations! Being pregnant can come with new health challenges, which can be managed well throughout the entire pregnancy. Acupuncture is a safe and effective therapy for mothers-to-be, and is well known to alleviate nausea during the first trimester. As pregnancy advances, acupuncture can help resolve such conditions as:
- Nausea, Vomiting
- Hip Pain, Round Ligament Pain
- Low Back Pain
- Gestational Carpal Tunnel
As your due date nears, many women like to use acupuncture to facilitate a faster, easier delivery. Between weeks 37-41, acupuncture can be used to induce labor naturally, reducing the need for medical induction or the possible need for a c-section. If you would like to avoid Pitocin or using epidurals for labor, acupuncture is worth a try!
Moxibustion therapy is famous for its ability to turn a breech baby to head down position, in order to allow for natural delivery. Moxibustion treatment involves the burning of an herb called Mugwort, to warm and stimulate special acupuncture points. Moxa sticks are burned over acupuncture point UB67 (Zhi Yin), which is located near the outer corner of the nail on the little toe, bilaterally.
Moxa treatment is done daily until the baby turns. Since treatment is done daily, I will demonstrate the technique, teach the couple how it is done, and provide handouts for reference as well as the moxa supplies for use at home. Acupuncture is done 1-2 times a week in conjunction with moxibustion for 2-3 weeks, or until the baby turns. Moxa treatments to turn a breech baby are best started around week 34-36, however I have had success turning a baby as late as 37 weeks if physical circumstances allow.