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Can Acupuncture really Improve your Fertility? Part Two in our Two part Series

We’ve read about an exciting new clinical study conducted by Tel Aviv University in Part One of our Series which shows a much higher successful conception rate when used in conjunction with acupuncture and medicinal herbs.  Perhaps you’re curious now and want to know more…here we provide you with added facts about Acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).

Acupuncture and IVF might be your winning combination.

But what actually is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a kind of healing process in which fully sterile and thin needles are inserted into the specific points in the body and these points are thought to be the pathways connecting the interior and exterior of a human body.  These points are associated with different body functions and thusly can be regulated when needles are applied accordingly.  In TCM, the theory abounds that these pathways can become “blocked” thereby causing problems within a specific area of the body or in the body as a whole.  Acupuncture aids in unblocking these obstructions and helping the body to attain balance once again.  Aside from acupuncture, TCM can also incorporate the use of medicinal herbs in conjunction with it to further aid the body’s own natural healing process.

However, as we always try to point out, some treatments aren’t meant for everyone.  For instance, if there are tubal adhesions due to Endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, acupuncture isn’t commonly recommended.

Does it really increase blood flow?

Physicians I’ve spoken to have very differing opinions on acupuncture.  Some are firm believers while others have very limited experience with TCM.  The common belief I’ve come across is that it improves blood flow, without a doubt.  Most RE’s I’ve spoken to can agree on that concept.  Now, the question lies as to how it directly benefits those suffering from Infertility.  Here are the common theories you’ll come across:

  1. Aside from blood flow increase, acupuncture is a great stress reliever.  Not only is the circulatory system given a boost, but the body’s own endorphins are released whereby relieving a patient’s stress level and helping the body to function at a more optimum (less stressed) level to promote fertility and healing.
  2. Acupuncture, with its increased blood flow, benefits only those who have already conceived as it helps those patients to stay pregnant and to deliver a healthy baby without any health complications.  It helps to create a thick, rich lining in the uterus and the results after 3 months of acupuncture sessions are quite compelling.  In other words, the improved blood flow allows the uterus to have a better chance of nourishing the fetus which would result in a successful delivery.
  3. There is a much smaller group which believe that yes, all the above is true but with an additional benefit.  It really does aid those suffering from Infertility because this increased blood flow not only helps the uterus but the ovaries as well.  It can provide surprising improvement in follicular and ovarian functions when also used with medicinal herbs.  These ovaries would be quenched in life-giving blood flow and treatment with TCM thereby increasing a women’s chances for successful conception without IVF or before/during an IVF treatment.  In TCM, Acupuncture has always been used for treating infertility and is commonly joined by the ingestion of medicinal herbs. However, physicians use acupuncture treatment along with herbal medicine as it   (One caveat when considering TCM during an IVF- consult with your doctor prior to any treatment as some doctors believe TCM can adversely affect an IVF’s final outcome).

What does the process of Acupuncture entail?

 

Acupuncture can be considered as synonymous to physical therapy which requires a thorough and somewhat lengthy process. Lengthy being the relative term here…since a minimum of 3-4 months is required to receive the added benefits of better blood flow and the boost given to other infertility treatment methods used during this timeframe.  Acupuncture and TCM is best if carried out on a bi-weekly or weekly basis (depending on what you and your Acupuncturist decide) and there is a certain “regimen” associated with acupuncture treatment which should be carried out for patients.

Normally, patients are required to go through the procedure before they attempt to conceive on their own, before carrying out an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) or an IVF.  Also, it may be used by a patient before a frozen embryo or donor egg transfer to create an optimum environment in their uterus.

According to a research study conducted in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fertility Centre, Scandinavia and University of Gothenburg, it is helpful for women to get the acupuncture therapy before and after embryo transfer for successful conception.  In this study, patients undergoing the research were treated to electrically stimulated acupuncture twice a week for a total of 4 weeks.  At the conclusion of the study, these patients showed marked uterine blood flow.  This blood flow is believed to greatly promote implantation and a healthy pregnancy.

When is the right time to stop Acupuncture treatments?

Normally, when women become pregnant, most miscarriages are likely to occur in the initial three months.  Therefore, it’s recommended that acupuncture treatments only be carried out up to twelve weeks as it can be helpful to prevent miscarriages in the initial three months.  However, this and any other questions pertaining to acupuncture are best answered by your RE, OB/GYN and Acupuncturist.

Side Effects and Precautions

As I mentioned previously, some Physicians firmly caution against undergoing TCM during an IVF cycle and state that neither the use of medicinal herbs nor needles should not be placed in the abdomino-pelvic region after the aforementioned infertility treatments.  Also, according to some experts, specific points in the regions of the gall bladder, stomach, large intestine, bladder and lower abdomen should not be used as acupuncture points.

As always, before finding an acupuncturist, conduct some thorough research as to their credentials and experience.  Consult our article on Traditional Chinese Medicine as a helpful resource.

 

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