Fertility is a concern for many couples, both from a male and female perspective. If there are problems with conceiving, it can be heartbreaking for couples but there are treatments that can help to increase the chances of conceiving, including acupuncture. Read on to find out how acupuncture can help with fertility.
Acupuncture is particularly helpful for people that have a functional rather than a structural reason for infertility (an example of a structural infertility would be damaged fallopian tubes). Both men and women with functional infertility are encouraged to try acupuncture. Acupuncture can be used to encourage the optimal sperm production and function in men, and to adjust the endocrine function as well as balance hormones in women. The goal of acupuncture is to ensure that the organs are nourished and the meridians or energy pathways are balanced. It also aims to ensure that a person’s health and wellbeing is addressed so that there is no external cause of disharmony within the body. It also identifies harmful environmental and occupational risk factors and uses dietetics and herbs to correct underlying nutritional or organ deficiencies.
There are many different treatments used for infertility including acupuncture needling, electronic stimulation of acupuncture points, dietary therapy, herbal therapy, exercise, and general lifestyle advice. The acupuncturist will prescribe a combination of these according to the individual’s exact condition. Why does the acupuncture work? It is thought that it works because it regulates the body’s system, aiding in blood flow to the reproductive organs, and stabilising hormone levels. This, in turn, increases ovarian function in women and sperm production in men. It is particularly useful if it is used as a complementary therapy to women undergoing other fertility treatments. Studies have shown that acupuncture increases the rate of pregnancy in women that are undergoing in vitro fertilisation treatments (IVF). Some people also believe that it helps as it helps women to stay relaxed during stressful fertility treatments.
In males, studies have shown that acupuncture treatments can reduce the number of structural abnormalities in sperm and increase the overall number of normal sperm. It can also improve sperm motility (movement). However, acupuncture has not been shown to help with other sperm problems such as immature sperm or sperm death.
When using acupuncture for fertility, it is better to do more than less. It is common for people to use acupuncture for three to four months before insemination, IVF, or donor egg transfer occurs. For women, it is a good idea to have acupuncture before and after embryo transfer. Treatments on women can last up to week 12 of any pregnancy that occurs to try and help prevent miscarriage from occurring. There are minimal risks when using acupuncture for fertility treatment if it is done by a fully qualified practitioner.