Twelve percent of couples report trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy*. Infertility is big business in the US, with Americans spending 3.5 billion dollars on infertility services in 2012**. The push to give birth to a child can be incredibly high, and struggling to conceive can be an unbelievably stressful, not to mention expensive, time in people’s lives. Acupuncture is often marketed as a remedy for infertility. While it is not a magic bullet, research studies do suggest a positive effect of acupuncture in infertility treatment.
A review of recent studies investigating the role of acupuncture and infertility suggests that this positive effect may be due to several factors:
1. Acupuncture may improve ovulation by regulating the nervous and endocrine systems, increasing ovarian blood flow, and modulating metabolism.
2. Acupuncture has been shown to improve the success rate of in vitro fertilization/embryo transfer (IVF-ET). This may be due uterine blood flow being increased, uterine motility being inhibited, and immune function being regulated, and the amelioration of depression, anxiety and stress.
3. Acupuncture has a positive effect on male infertility, although the mechanism of action is not clear.***
Our response to “How does acupuncture work?” is usually, “No one knows for sure, but it seems to stimulate your body’s internal self-healing mechanisms.” A healthy, well-balanced body is more likely to conceive and hold a viable pregnancy than an out-of-balance one. At Southpoint we have seen hundreds of people working to improve their fertility with the majority of individuals having positive outcomes eventually; however, this often doesn’t happen right away.
Acupuncture is a process and may be combined with additional assisted reproductive technologies, depending on the individual and their age and history. It ‘s hard to make blanket statements about what a typical treatment plan looks like since reproductive histories are complex, and each person is different. We almost never suggest coming in less than weekly for fertility, and often two or more times a week until the menstrual cycle is regulated and stress is well-managed, as are any other ailments such as insomnia, digestive problems, or chronic pain.
While health and fertility have an overlapping relationship, they are still two separate things. It is normal for fertility to decline with age and we live in a culture that does not support nurturing life. Struggling to have a child does not mean there is something wrong with you. The odds are quite good that when you come in for community acupuncture treatment, there will be another person in the room with you who is in a similar situation; this lack of isolation is one of the lovely things about community acupuncture. Another nice thing is that treatment doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to be effective.
While there is no fail proof intervention available yet for fertility, acupuncture is a stress-relieving and time-tested therapy that many says have helped them on their journey to parenthood. The best way to see if acupuncture will work well for you is to try a few treatments and see if it’s something you enjoy. For the Community Acupuncture clinic closest to you visit www.pocacoop.com/clinics.