In the case of infertility, there are many different reasons why people struggle with having children and it isn't always something physical. For example, from an acupuncture perspective, the reason may not have anything to do with your reproductive system, it may be your stress levels. We also understand that having children is as much a spiritual experience as it is a physical one, and there are ways we can support patients there too. Moral of the story, if one thing isn't quite right, the body may not feel it's safe or ready to bear a child. Acupuncture offers a unique perspective on what isn't "quite right" and works to correct it.
There is a large body of research evidence that acupuncture can be helpful in treating PCOS which can interfere with fertility.
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective at reducing anxiety which can be associated with IVF treatment. And, acupuncture has shown to increase the success rates of using IVF when trying to get pregnant.
Acupuncture treats the whole person body, mind, emotions. By helping a woman to get back in balance and more optimally healthy that will make her more capable of getting pregnant.
The reason acupuncture is recommended for infertility is simply because it works most of the time. But acupuncture is not a miracle modality. Before you go to see an acupuncturist, you need to go to see your OBGYN to make sure there are no other problems, i.e., infection, blockage of tube, severe diabetes, etc.
Good luck on your journey into motherhood.
Acupuncture treatment can increase fertility by reducing stress; which increases the blood flow to the reproductive organs and adjusting the endocrine system to be balanced. The reason acupuncture helps is when people are under any stress, the hormone cortisol is released in the brain. This hormone alters the brain's neurochemical balance, hence modifying hormone levels and disrupting the pituitary balance that is crucial to the reproductive cycle.
Regarding to fertility treatments, patients are commonly treated for three to four months before progressing to insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). This schedule of treatment seems to have a therapeutic effect. If supplementation or herbs are allowed, they take time to work, so starting them earlier is the best. It takes 4 to 5 months for an egg to mature. If you can get started on a good quality preconception formula 3 to 6 months prior to conception/transfer, the eggs are going to have the opportunity to grow and mature in a nutrient-rich environment. Suggest that the most effective fertility treatments involve a combination of acupuncture and traditional herbal supplements. However, conception can occur when acupuncture and traditional herbal supplements are being used.
Why should a woman use acupuncture if she's trying to get pregnant? It's a good question, particularly if the woman and her partner have no other fertility issues. I'm going to take a stab at answering the question, hopefully without resorting to any 'woowoo' terminology, we may just have to wander around the barn a bit to get there.
In recent years, we've started to realize that stress may be sitting at the root of a lot of modern disease conditions. In the west we have a very high stress 24x7 lifestyle where people are working a lot, spending a lot of time indoors, spending a lot of time sitting, spending a lot of time in front of a screen (computer, TV, tablet, phone). We have long commutes in heavy traffic. We have poor diets. We have a lot of exposure to environmental toxins. We get little exercise. None of this is particularly healthy, no matter how we attempt to rationalize it.
This stress activates our 'fight or flight' mode which is the sympathetic side of the autonomic nervous system. Activation of the sympathetic system leads to increased cortisol levels, higher incidence of high blood pressure, more headache/migraine, more digestive complaints, reduced immunity and a host of other potential effects. Why this all happens is a relatively simple function of how the sympathetic nervous system is designed to work. It's just that our bodies were never intended to be in this mode all the time.
Acting in opposition to the sympathetic system is the parasympathetic side of the autonomic nervous system. The parasympathetic system is the so-called 'rest and digest' mode. Here, the body relaxes, blood is diverted to the internal organs for nourishment, blood pressure drops, muscle tension is released. This is where our bodies were designed to spend most of their time.
Enter acupuncture. One of the things most acupuncture studies consistently show is acupuncture's ability to promote the parasympathetic 'rest and digest' mode over the sympathetic 'fight or flight' mode. In other words, acupuncture encourages your body to enter a state where better nourishment is going to be derived from your food and that nourishment is going to be better distributed to your internal organs.
From the perspective of fertility, being able to maintain a healthy balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic can sometimes make the difference between getting pregnant and not. We've all heard stories of the couple who are trying and trying and trying to get pregnant. Eventually, they tire of the grind and decide to just chill out for a few months before trying again and bam, pregnant. Stress can have a tremendous effect on our overall health, probably more than we think and in more ways than we currently recognize. Anything that helps to manage stress can increase fertility.
And, of course, if a woman is in the unfortunate position where she's having to consider IVF or other fertility treatments, acupuncture has a really strong track record with plenty of studies currently available showing efficacy.
To get the most out of any acupuncture treatment, please make sure you're seeing an NCCAOM board certified acupuncturist. You can start with the "Find a Practitioner" directory at NCCAOM.org to find someone local to you. If you're just looking for stress relief and have no underlying fertility issues, any acupuncturist will do the trick. If you have some sort of fertility issue, you will want to find an acupuncturist who specializes in this area.
Please refer to your physician for correct diagnoses and for any referrals and recommendations before seeking help. In TCM, there are herbal medicines that can help nourish the "qi" and the blood and help the qi and blood move smoothly throughout the body. Also, acupuncture techniques as well.