EXPERT ADVICE: Fertility & Acupuncture

The benefits of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are endless. Being a mind-body healthcare modality, acupuncturists are able to treat each person as the individual that they are. Chinese Medicine considers each person as a whole, taking the mind, body, emotions, and spirit into consideration for every treatment. Considering how magical and personal fertility is, it should be no surprise that this healing modality is often suggested. Every person is different, every fertility case is different, every pregnancy is different, and every labor & delivery is different. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine creates care that is specific for every mother, father, and child to-be. The modality focuses on the tiny beautiful details that make you the individual that you are specifically to strengthen your chances of conception.

Natural Conception

Acupuncture is often recommended when used in conjunct with in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, if you are trying to conceive naturally or if you are beginning to entertain the idea of parenthood, acupuncture is an excellent modality to introduce to your healthcare routine. Acupuncture focuses on the smooth flow of Qi (pronounced chee) and blood throughout the body. When there are no blockages, everything is flowing as it should, and a patient is being consistently nourished, the body is healthy. As this correlates to fertility, your monthly period and ovulation schedule will be predictable and consistent. When the body is healthy your period will be on time, PMS will be minimal, the blood flow will be a healthy red color without clotting, and it will last consistently for 3-7 days (only naming a few).

When Qi and blood is flowing, the body will also ovulate monthly and most important on time. Ovulation is obviously not as easy to determine and track. This is why I usually recommend patients track their basal body temperature (BBT) for a few months (at least) in order to determine their ovulation window. I know many prefer the at home ovulation kits versus tracking their BBT daily. Makes sense, it’s so much easier to simply pee on a stick versus consistently tracking your temperature every single morning. However, the payback is so worth it! The details your acupuncturist can see after a couple months have been tracked are extremely useful. After all, remember we are all individuals! Being able to see a temperature spike at the time of ovulation makes chances of conception much higher. Surprisingly, sometimes couples have difficulties conceiving simply because they are missing their ovulation window. Once all of the data has been collected, your acupuncturist can then determine what phase (if any) of your cycle needs balancing or nourishing. For example, perhaps progesterone doesn't leave your body as quickly as it should at the end of the luteal phase resulting in a delayed period or days of spotting. This is only one example, but acupuncture can assist in regulating the ovulation cycle making chances of natural conception much greater.

IVF Support

When it comes to IVF I like to consider acupuncture as a supporting modality to the western approach. Patients going through the brutal and exhausting process of IVF are on a very strict schedule, and every day matters for many. With all of the hormone manipulation, often a patients menstrual cycle will loose it’s consistency (usually lengthens). Seeing an acupuncturist during the process may keep your period on a tighter track, also keeping your IVF cycle on schedule. Acupuncture may also assist patients who are struggling with egg quality or quantity (also applies to men). Seeing an acupuncturists regularly before and during the process may actually increase the quantity of eggs and even the quality. As mentioned, your acupuncturist will consider every detail of your individual case to determine what needs to be treated in order to improve chances of a successful IVF cycle. On the other side, once the cycle is complete and the egg has been transferred, an acupuncture treatment can assist to hold the egg and increase the chances of implantation.

More important, supporting a patients emotions during an IVF cycle is germane. Always considering the mind-body and spirit, it is important to address all of the emotions that are along for the ride during this grueling time. Emotions can wreak havoc on the body during times of stress. It would be negligent to assume that patients are not emotional during an IVF procedure. Emotions can interrupt the the smooth flow of Qi and blood in the body. Making sure all emotions are acknowledged and supported can help to keep the cycle in check. It is perfectly healthy to feel anxiety, anger, sadness, disappointment, and every other emotion under the IVF umbrella. What’s most important is to acknowledge these emotions and not shove them down deep just to tuck them away. Remember, emotions are made to be emitted into the universe. You are going through a difficult process, acknowledging your emotions is a sign of pure strength, letting them out of your body will leave more space for receiving your babies spirit. Crowding the body with unreleased emotions will do you no favor, your acupuncturist can help support you through the process of connecting and releasing them.

Pregnant Already?

Already pregnant or a parent? You can still benefit from acupuncture! Let’s face it, baking a little human is really hard. There are so many symptoms during pregnancy and acupuncture can assist you through them all, even if only for emotional support (hormones are no joke!!!). Morning sickness, back pain, constipation, leg cramps, exhaustion, baby brain, insomnia, and anxiety (only naming a few) are all pregnancy woes that acupuncture can treat. Acupuncture is perfectly safe during pregnancy and can be very relaxing. If you are dealing with a lot of anxiety about becoming a parent, acupuncture might be something to consider since you are unable to enjoy those relaxing glasses of wine.

Acupuncture and moxa may flip a breached baby into the head down position. Once it is confirmed that your baby is in the head down position, and you are nearing your due date, an acupuncture treatment can even help to induce your labor. Going one step further, once your baby has arrived and the breastfeeding has begun, acupuncture can help you with your milk supply as well!

The care and support is endless, all examples I have mentioned really only skim the surface of care that acupuncture can provide during this very challenging but also precious time.

Sara is a licensed acupuncurist, the owner of Acupuncture Atelier and new mom to a beautiful baby girl. For more information about Sara or her practice, visit her site & tell her we sent you!