Falling pregnant isn't always easy. Only about a third of couples get pregnant on their first try. About 85 percent of women can get pregnant within a year. The other 15 percent of couples struggle with their fertility. If you're having fertility problems, you're not alone. In fact, it affects between one in six and one in four couples at some point.
Female infertility is a complex issue. It can affect your body and your emotions. Scientists have developed a variety of treatments to improve fertility, but there are no guarantees. Maybe this is why Women are increasingly turning to acupuncture to improve their odds.
The History of Acupuncture
Early people used sharp tools to clean wounds as long as 3,000 years ago. However, the use of acupuncture dates back to the Stone Age. Although it has a long tradition in ancient Chinese medicine, there is evidence that other ancient people used it, too. This includes Indians, Europeans and South American peoples. In fact, the “Ice Man,” who died around 3300 BCE, was found with tattoos that correspond with acupuncture meridians.
Acupuncture was often used with other complementary therapies, such as diet, herbal treatments and massage. By the 15th century, the practice of acupuncture had become well-established in Chinese medicine. By the 20th century, the rest of the world started to sit up and pay attention.
The Importance of Qi
Qi, pronounced “chee,” refers to life energy. Qi flows through 12 channels in your body called meridians. Each meridian represents particular functions, including reproduction. The channels allow energy to flow freely throughout the body and to all major systems. Like blood vessels, meridians can become blocked over time. Unlike blood vessels, meridians are blocked not by plaque but by toxins. When toxins build up, qi becomes blocked.
Blocked qi leads to imbalanced body systems and functions. Over time, that can lead to pain, poor health and disease. It can also reduce your fertility. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can open the meridians again by opening one or more of the 365 openings in the channels. Acupuncture has the added benefit of stimulating your endocrine, immune and nervous systems. This translates to healthier sleep, less pain and less stress.
Female Infertility and Acupuncture Treatment
Women undergoing fertility treatment can benefit from acupuncture. Many modern Australian women are dealing with depression, anxiety, poor eating habits, and overwork. All of that can interfere with qi flow, but it can also increase the risk of fertility problems.
Acupuncture can help boost fertility by:
- Increasing blood flow to the uterus and ovaries
- Inducing ovulation
- Regulating hormones
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Regulating the menstrual cycle
Acupuncture might have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, but it can offer many benefits for modern people, too. Researcher E. Stener Victorin determined that acupuncture can significantly improve pregnancy rates and increase the chances of successful pregnancy outcomes. Stener Victorin also found that it is an excellent added treatment for PCOS and other metabolic problems.
IVF Treatments and Acupuncture
If you want to improve your odds of getting and staying pregnant, acupuncture might just be the way to do it. You can begin treatments before the embryo transfer and continue as needed after to support a healthy pregnancy. Always talk to your fertility specialist before starting any new or alternative treatment.
You can try acupuncture and Chinese medicine when you are trying to conceive or when you are undergoing fertility treatments such as IVF. During an IVF cycle, an egg is removed and fertilised outside the body. Once a viable embryo is obtained, it is transferred back to the uterus. This is done at a precise point in the menstrual cycle.
Women undergoing IVF treatments can begin acupuncture therapy before the eggs are harvested. According to some studies, acupuncture can boost fertility up to 65 percent. As an IVF support, acupuncture thickens the uterine lining to improve nourishment of the developing embryo.
Treatments can continue safely even after embryo transfer. In fact, acupuncture has been linked to improved pregnancy outcomes. According to research, it almost doubles the pregnancy rate and odds of a live birth after fertility treatment.
Most experts suggest weekly treatments for up to 12 weeks to improve your health and increase the chances of falling pregnant.
Male Infertility and Acupuncture
Women aren’t the only ones with blocked qi: Men can also suffer. For men, acupuncture is most beneficial before conception.
It can improve their fertility in several ways, including:
- Boosting energy
- Maintaining healthy weight
- Improving heart health
- Lowering stress
- Increasing sperm count
- Improving sperm quality
- Stimulating sperm motility
Trying acupuncture before attempting to conceive or undergoing IVF could give men and their partners the extra edge needed to create a viable embryo.
What to Expect from Your First Acupuncture Treatment
Acupuncture has come a long way since the Stone Age. You will begin with a complete exam. You'll need to answer many questions about your health and lifestyle During the treatment, tiny sterile needles will be inserted into your skin. There are 365 openings that can become blocked, so the practitioner will take the time to make sure they are focusing their energy accurately.
The needles are about the same thickness as a strand of hair. They can stay in place for up to 30 minutes at a time. There is not usually any pain involved. After your treatment, you will likely feel calm and deeply relaxed.
Other complementary therapies can include cupping, massage or electric stimulation.
Acupuncture and Fertility
When women are undergoing fertility treatments, the stress can interfere with their qi. By keeping the meridians open, reducing stress and increasing blood flow to the uterus, acupuncture offers critical IVF support.
Traditional Chinese medicine can be effective for falling pregnant when used:
- During the menstrual cycle;
- During ovulation; and
- During implantation.
When used together with an IVF cycle, acupuncture should be started at least 6 to 8 weeks before an embryo transfer. Weekly treatment can be beneficial for about 12 weeks after the transfer to improve the pregnancy rate and the odds of a live birth.