With its role expanding throughout Western modern medicine, Acupuncture is taking much more of a front seat with regards to fertility and pregnancy. There is growing popularity for this with celebrity endorsements from the likes of Celine Dion / Kim Kardashian / Mariah Carey, numerous positive magazine articles, all backed by extensive data and research findings and significant word of mouth. At the Fairlee Wellbeing Centre we see and treat many patients who are trying to improve their chance of conceiving and appreciate helping them along this often difficult journey.
Acupuncture has been used to treat gynaecological and fertility problems for thousands of years in China. It is used in conjunction with more conventional Western treatment and also as a standalone therapy for common gynaecological problems such as painul periods, endometriosis, fibroids and PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). When used in isolation acupuncture is most effective for overcoming functional problems such as irregular ovulation, hormonal deficiencies or imbalances, rather than structural issues such as blocked ducts. Essentially, ongoing acupuncture treatment regulates the body’s energy system (known as Qi), promoting and regulating blood flow to the reproductive organs, whilst stabilising hormones. This increases ovary function for women and sperm production for men.
Several studies have been undertaken into the efficacy of acupuncture in conjunction with Assisted Reproduction Therapy (IVF, IUI, ICSI). In recent years, specialist UK fertility consultants have started to advocate the use of acupuncture as a complement to conventional assisted reproduction. This change in attitudes is partly due to the results of various research studies, which have shown that women who had acupuncture treatment on the day of embryo transfer had almost as much as twice the likelihood of getting pregnant as those who did not.
Pre-conception acupuncture can:
- Regulate the menstrual cycle;
- Stimulate ovulation;
- Increase uterus blood flow and circulation;
- Invigorate sperm count and motility;
- Enhance reproductive health;
- Support you throughout the anxiety and emotions of trying to achieve pregnancy.
Female fertility problems due to hormone imbalances can also be overcome with acupuncture treatment either singularly or in combination with traditional Chinese herbal medicine and/or Western medication. Acupuncture can assist egg production and regular ovulation in the first half (ovulatory phase) of the menstrual cycle, whilst providing hormonal balance during the second half (luteal phase). Acupuncture can also decrease the stress and anxiety symptoms associated with PMS. Acupuncture is also highly used and effective in severe circumstances, such as failure to ovulate (anovulation) and PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). For example, ovulating problems (mistimed, irregular, or none at all) connected with FSH imbalances, symptoms of imbalanced progesterone are also treatable.
Acupuncture can also be effective for male infertility. Studies have indicated that regular acupuncture treatment can significantly enhance count, motility, quality and health of sperm. Researchers have analysed sperm samples from infertile men before and after acupuncture, to find that the treatment led fewer structural sperm defects and a higher in the number of normal sperm. At the Fairlee Wellbeing Centre, we see people who want to support their fertility naturally as well as women and couples who are undertaking (or preparing for) assisted treatment such as In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), IUI and ICSI. We have successfully treated many cases of male and female infertility, often in conjunction with IVF and IUI protocols.
Many women and couples have received acupuncture at different stages on the path to pregnancy and birth. Our acupuncturist, Nick Johnson, will offer you the best possible tailored care, dependent on the causes and nature of the fertility issues, no matter what stage you may be at. Embryo transfer occurs within 5 days of egg collection and fertility consultants prefer their development to continue to blastocyst stage before transferring the embryo back. However, circumstances can require an earlier transfer, sometimes at very short notice. This can be a very stressful time, so we make every effort to ensure that we can see you both before and after embryo transfer on the day that you need.
At the Fairlee Wellbeing Centre we understand the many stresses encountered by people having assisted reproduction and our acupuncturist has worked with patients in various fertility clinics. Women who come to us for complementary treatment usually find that they feel much more relaxed and in control if they have acupuncture during an assisted cycle. Although treatment is based around acupuncture, where appropriate, we will also offer dietary, nutritional and lifestyle advice as well as cupping and massage. We recognise the unique emotional and the physical difficulties of becoming pregnant, and we therefore consider listening and understanding to be an essential part of our remit.