Upon deciding to become parents, either for the first time or not, many people find that it can be both an exciting and stressful process. In an ideal world when we decided that we wanted to get pregnant it would happen immediately. This does and can happen for some people, but it is the exception and not the rule. Fertility and the process of conception are both very intricate and complicated issues, which can lead to many twists and turns on your road to pregnancy. Fortunately, there are many options and treatments available to assist you on your path to a successful pregnancy. This article is meant to outline how acupuncture can support your fertility, pregnancy, childbirth and post-childbirth recovery, as well as explain some basic definitions and terms involved in a discussion about fertility.
General information and definitions
When people hear about fertility treatments or infertility treatments, they often think this means In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). In fact, there are many different treatments and therapies in both Western medicine and Chinese medicine that are used to enhance fertility and address infertility issues. Infertility is defined as a condition in which a woman under the age of 34 has not achieved a viable pregnancy in the last 12 months (6 months if you are 35 years or older). Most research has shown that approximately 50% of the infertility issues can be related to male factors, 45% to female factors and 5% to unknown reasons. People who seek out fertility enhancement treatments, however, are not necessarily dealing with infertility but are rather hoping to increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy and to prevent miscarriage.
Western treatments for infertility can range from the use of medications to treat known conditions that affect fertility like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IVF is a process in which the egg and sperm are retrieved and fertilized in the laboratory. Another less invasive and less expensive fertility treatment is called Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). IUI is a procedure that involves injecting sperm into a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization.
Fertility Enhancement using Acupuncture
Acupuncture plays an important role in supporting all stages of becoming a parent from fertility enhancement to prevention of miscarriage to post-partum recovery. Acupuncture can also help support naturally occurring labor and assist you as a birthing mother to cope with the anxiety, stress and pain associated with the birthing process.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions associated with fertility or infertility, and can be used to support both female and male fertility. Common Western diagnoses treated with Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are:
- Advanced maternal age
- Amenorrhea (lack of menses)
- Anovulation (lack of ovulation)
- Elevated FSH Levels
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Male Factor Infertility (i.e. low sperm count, varicosities)
- Ovarian cysts, Polycystic Ovaries
- Recurrent Miscarriage
- Tubal Blockage
- Unexplained Infertility
- Uterine Fibroids
In addition to natural fertility enhancement, we offer specific treatments designed for families employing the assisted reproductive therapies of IUI (Intra Uterine Injections) or IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). A 2008 study shows that women undergoing IVF treatments were 65% more likely to become pregnant with the use of Acupuncture1. This can not only be significant in helping you become pregnant, but it can also lower the costs associated with fertility treatments by increasing your odds for a successful pregnancy and reducing the need for multiple attempts at IVF.
Aside from the hormonal and reproductive issues that can affect fertility, chronic stress, depression, anxiety and grief are only a few of the many emotions that an individual with infertility issues might experience, all of which can have negative effects on possible conception. It is accepted by both Western and Eastern doctors, that your emotional well being has an enormous effect on you and your baby’s health. Practitioners believe that Acupuncture can help you better cope with and reduce stress so your body can efficiently manage its’ natural functions. This will inevitably benefit your health and can increase your chances for a successful pregnancy, birth and recovery after giving birth.
Benefits of Acupuncture for Fertility Enhancement:
- Safe – Acupuncture and the appropriate Chinese herbs have NO dangerous side effects, nor do they introduce any toxicity to you or your baby. It is a completely natural, safe, and effective way to facilitate conception and to promote a healthy pregnancy.
- Cost-effective – Acupuncture can greatly reduce costs associated with fertility treatments of IUI and IVF by improving the success rates of these treatments.
- Non-surgical / Non-invasive
- Chemical free
- Reduces stress
Fertility enhancement and infertility concerns often need a multi-disciplinary approach. We are happy to work with your primary care physician and fertility specialists so you receive the best possible care.
Please contact our office to meet with Carola Stepper, LAc to see how we may help you address your specific fertility concerns!