When used in conjunction with Western fertility treatments, acupuncture increases conception rates by 26%. A recent study from Tel Aviv University reports, ““When combining IUI with TCM treatments, 65.5 percent of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4 percent of the control group, who received no herbal or acupuncture therapy.” For the 4.5 million couples experiencing infertility each year, acupuncture may be just what the doctor ordered.
Acupuncture can increase fertility by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system, according to several studies and medical research. “The goal of an infertility treatment from a Chinese Medicine perspective is not just to get pregnant, but to stay pregnant and to have a healthy baby,” says Deb Davies, LAc, a Pacific College alumnus who practices at Herbin Acupuncture and Wellness in San Diego. Among many other benefits, acupuncture can provide better blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, creating a stronger chance for an egg to be nourished and carried to term.
Acupuncture consists of the gentle insertion and stimulation of thin, disposable sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body. Over 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body connect with 14 major pathways, called meridians. Chinese medicine practitioners believe that these meridians conduct qi , or energy, between the surface of the body and internal organs. It is qi that regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. When the flow of qi is disrupted through poor health habits or other circumstances, pain and/or disease can result. Acupuncture helps to keep the normal flow of this energy unblocked, thereby increasing a couple’s chances of conceiving.
Acupuncture infertility treatment can improve almost every cause of this obstacle. While 40 percent of infertility is caused by problems in the female, another 40 percent is caused by problems in the male, such as low sperm count or motility. The cause of female infertility stems from problems such as anovulation and endometriosis. The remaining 20 percent is caused by unknown factors.
One of the ways acupuncture infertility treatment increases fertility is by reducing stress, which is often a key factor in the fertility of both men and women. When people are under stress, the hormone cortizol is released in the brain. This alters the brain’s neurochemical balance, thus changing hormone levels and disrupting the pituitary balance that is key to the reproductive cycle. “Chinese medicine can help support a woman through this important time in her life—whether that is emotionally or physically, acupuncture can help with much more than just conception. It can help with morning sicknesss, nausea, aches and pains (low back pain, for example), anxiety preparation for birth, and insomnia, among many others,” explains Davies.
Because of the delicate balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and reproductive glands, stress is capable of preventing a woman from ovulating entirely. This can contribute to the cause of female infertility. Stress can also create spasms in both the fallopian tubes and the uterus, which can interfere with movement and implantation of a fertilized egg. In men, stress can alter sperm counts, motility, and cause impotence. Acupuncture infertility treatment counters the effects of stress and cortizol by releasing endorphins in the brain. An herbal impotence cure is also an option for men and can reduce stress.