Acupuncture and female fertility

In recent years, women have increasingly used the help of acupuncture to improve their chances of natural conception, increase the effectiveness of medical fertility procedures, decrease the risk of miscarriage, and contend with other pregnancy issues. This popularity blossomed in response to a 2002 study looking at the effect of acupuncture on IVF success rates. Since then, women have discovered how acupuncture can prepare them for these fertility procedures, or even help avoid them.

What are the causes?

There are a number of influences to consider. Environmental and nutritional factors have a direct impact on fertility and unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are an additional risk. Emotional disturbances and high levels of stress are additional factors that should be reduced if possible, and can be addressed in the framework of acupuncture.

What acupuncture can do

Of all the alternative therapies, acupuncture has been shown in controlled scientific studies to be effective in helping treat infertility problems. Acupuncture has, of course, traditionally been successfully employed in China to treat most illnesses, but, in recent years, there have been several interesting controlled scientific studies demonstrating the clinical value of acupuncture to treat female infertility due to hormone disorders, and conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS, oligoamenorrhea or luteal insufficiency.Traditional acupuncturists treat the whole person rather than a disease and therefore is very effective in cases of "Unexplained Infertility" where although medical tests show nothing wrong, there may be other signs and symptoms of imbalance, may it be irregular or painful period, low energy levels, headaches or poor digestion. These are all signs that the person is not functioning at their optimum and feeling as good and healthy as possible. Treating the person as a whole and making them feel better, healthier, more energetic will often go hand in hand with better fertility.Because acupuncture addresses specific complaints as well as related symptoms, treatment can make significant changes in just a few weeks. However, further benefit is gained from longer courses of treatment. Because acupuncture is holistic and the prime aim is to rebalance the flow of energy in the person as a whole, the benefits of treatment go beyond the specific desired result of pregnancy. Although we do not lose sight of the chief complaint a person is presenting with, e.g. infertility, the condition is resolved by addressing the root cause of the problem, in the context of a person's unique system. In this way general health is improved, and natural fertility can often be achieved without side effects. Since conditions such as poor sperm morphology are risk factors for diseases such as testicular cancer, the early resolution of these conditions has implications for the prevention of more serious ones.

Testing

Besides assessing outward signs and symptoms, laboratory testing is always recommended, as results are also helpful to acupuncturist. Blood tests to establish the hormone levels at various times of the cycle give information about any hormone imbalance that may be present. Ultrasounds scanning will show fibroids, uterine abnormalities or polycystic ovaries and a laparoscopy will reveal if there are any blocked fallopian tubes.When it comes to treatment, acupuncture is used to restore hormone balance, reduce the effects of emotional disturbances and stress, to kick-start the reproductive functions, and to help the body purge itself of toxins. It harnesses the body's own energy to encourage the body to heal itself. This practice of evaluating specific symptoms within a greater systemic framework demonstrates the holistic approach of Chinese medicine. Ultimately, this approach benefits the patient's health as well as resolving symptoms. Conversely, Western medicine typically treats infertility and other conditions from the tail end. While medically assisted fertility procedures are an amazing development and a boon to millions of couples, if all those couples sought holistic treatment in conjunction with their standard treatments, success rates could improve. For some couples, medical procedures could be unnecessary, saving them thousands of pounds, the stress of the rather intense treatment schedules, and the side effects of heavy-duty hormone therapies. Natural fertility sprouts from a healthy sperm, healthy egg, and good soil in which to implant and develop. None of these should be neglected. When these factors are optimized, artificial techniques are less frequently required, and when they are, success rates are greatly improved. Working together, modern science and ancient medicine can provide powerful treatments for starting families that loving couples deserve.