Acupuncture and Infertility: Can Chinese Medicine Help Make Women More Fertile?
More and more partners every year are confronting infertility issues. Many who have had no success with conventional medical interventions are seeking help in acupuncture. The proven effects of acupuncture on infertility are still being widely debated.
How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture is based on the belief that a balance in the energy flow (known as qi or chi) is necessary to maintain optimal health. If there is a blockage in that flow, one’s health can be impacted. The mind-body connection is believed to be quite strong.
There are over 2,000 different acupuncture points. Depending upon a person’s condition, needles are inserted in various combinations of points. Optimally, the needle restores one’s natural energy flow and allows the body to be restored to ultimate physical, emotional, and mental health.
Acupuncture has been used for years for a variety of ailments, and recently has come under appraisal for its benefits for infertility. According to the American Pregnancy Association, acupuncture is believed to regulate blood flow to and from reproductive organs and stabilize hormone levels. This aids in ovarian function for women, and in sperm production for men. It also increases the blood flow to the endometrium, which helps a thick uterine lining to develop, and aids in the maturity of eggs. Acupuncture can decrease premenstrual symptoms and help regulate irregular menstrual cycles. Acupuncture can aid in recurrent miscarriage, unexplained fertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and other disorders. It cannot, however, help women with a physiological condition such as blocked tubes.
Acupuncture is also believed to aid in stress management, which benefits partners undergoing vigorous fertility treatments. Acupuncture is known to be relatively safe and risk-free when performed with a qualified acupuncturist. Many people find it quite relaxing. Patients may seek acupuncture in conjunction with other fertility treatments, and they may take fertility drugs or Chinese herbs at the same time. A woman must confirm with her physician that any combination of drugs she is taking is safe.
Finding An Acupuncturist
When looking for an acupuncturist to aid in fertility, one must only seek a qualified, certified professional who has completed all of the proper board exams. Keep in mind that insurance companies do not always cover acupuncture, and this warrants investigating beforehand. It should be noted, however, that while acupuncture can be expensive, it is often cheaper than other fertility treatments.
Acupuncture is also a continuous series of treatment, not a one-time cure all. Patients will need to be committed to their care. Patients should also seek an acupuncturist who specializes in fertility disorders, to avoid any incorrect acupuncture points being used. For example, acupuncturists should never place needles in the abdominal or pelvic area after insemination.
Controversy over Acupuncture
The medical community is largely divided about acupuncture. Some believe in its healing power, while others assert that more research is necessary. Some recommend patients to acupuncturists, while others believe a referral would be irresponsible. Many patients prefer to try Western medicine before seeing an acupuncturist as a last resort, while others are willing to try acupuncture right away.
Certainly, much has been made of using acupuncture to treat fertility issues. Time and research will tell if it truly has the power to help women get and stay pregnant.