Community Acupuncture For Fertility
Sunday, December 27th, 2015
by Stef Cordes & Lisa Baird
Fertility is big business: this year Marketdata Enterprise estimated the total to be at about $3.5 billion per year. So naturally, acupuncture is heavily marketed as a treatment for fertility issues. We have mixed feelings about this, because people who are struggling to conceive can be in a pretty vulnerable position, and are often very willing to make great sacrifices to bring life into this world.
So we’ll be straight up: acupuncture is not a magical cure for infertility. There is no magical pill or failproof fertility intervention available. What acupuncture can do is help bring your body into balance, restoring a healthy state of being, which will make you more likely to conceive and hold a viable pregnancy.
Different people have different needs, but generally when we’re using acupuncture to support fertility, treatment is necessary at least twice per week and ideally at three times per week. Our sliding scale makes regular acupuncture an option for more people.
When someone comes in with fertility concerns, we try to discern what may be getting in the way of conception and work with the acupuncture to remove the obstacles. This may involve using acupuncture to support healthy digestion and/or consistently restful sleep, and often involves acupuncture treatment to regulate cycles, improve uterine tone and cervical fluids, increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, and support healthy, balanced hormone levels.
Then there’s the issue of stress. When we’re stressed out we produce more cortisol, which interferes with healthy hormone levels, which can interfere with fertility. It’s not uncommon for someone to be stressed about not conceiving – and anxious about what their stress may be doing to their fertility. Fortunately acupuncture is also a very effective treatment for reducing stress, which can be a key factor in increasing someone’s fertility. The pressures and anxieties associated with trying to conceive (whether it’s the two-week rollercoaster between ovulation and a possible menstrual period, or worry that time is running short) are such that we almost always include stress treatments with our fertility protocols.
Acupuncture is also a supportive adjunct to reproductive technology. Many patients report a variety of unpleasant side effects with fertility drugs such as abdominal tenderness, bloating, headaches, mood swings and nausea. Acupuncture can provide relief of these unwanted symptoms while supporting fertility procedures whether it be IVF, artificial insemination or egg-donor transfer.
Still, like all fertility procedures and treatments available, acupuncture is not failproof. It is comforting for us to know, however, that regular needling can result in significantly decreased levels of emotional distress and improve overall wellbeing, regardless of whether a course of fertility acupuncture results in conception or not. And while the process of attempting to conceive can be an incredibly isolating experience, your acupuncture treatments don’t have to be.