Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate blood flow, balance hormones, and relieve stress. But can acupuncture also help with fertility? In this blog post, we will explore the benefits, risks, and effectiveness of acupuncture for fertility, as well as some tips on how to find a qualified acupuncturist and prepare for your sessions.
What are the benefits of acupuncture for fertility?
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat various health conditions, including infertility. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, some of the potential benefits of acupuncture for fertility are:
- Improving ovarian function and egg quality
- Enhancing uterine blood flow and lining
- Regulating menstrual cycles and ovulation
- Reducing inflammation and oxidative stress
- Modulating the immune system and endocrine system
- Increasing sperm count, motility, and morphology
- Decreasing the risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy
- Supporting in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) outcomes
- Alleviating anxiety, depression, and insomnia
Acupuncture may also help with some of the common causes of infertility, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, fibroids, thyroid disorders, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and male factor infertility.
What are the risks of acupuncture for fertility?
Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a certified and licensed professional who uses sterile, single-use needles. However, as with any medical procedure, there are some possible risks and side effects, such as:
- Bleeding, bruising, or infection at the needle sites
- Pain, discomfort, or soreness during or after the session
- Dizziness, fainting, or nausea
- Aggravation of existing symptoms or conditions
- Interactions with medications or supplements
To minimize the risks of acupuncture for fertility, you should:
- Consult with your doctor before starting acupuncture, especially if you have a bleeding disorder, a pacemaker, or a metal allergy
- Inform your acupuncturist about your medical history, medications, supplements, allergies, and pregnancy status
- Choose a reputable acupuncturist who has experience in treating fertility issues
- Follow the instructions and recommendations of your acupuncturist
- Report any adverse reactions or complications to your acupuncturist and doctor
How effective is acupuncture for fertility?
The effectiveness of acupuncture for fertility is still a matter of debate among researchers and practitioners. There is no conclusive evidence to prove or disprove that acupuncture can improve fertility or help you conceive. However, there is some promising research that suggests that acupuncture may have a positive impact on fertility in certain situations.
For example, a 2018 study examined the effects of acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture on live births among women undergoing IVF. The study found that there was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of live birth rates. However, when the researchers analyzed the data according to the number of previous IVF cycles, they found that acupuncture increased the chances of live birth by 24% for women who had two or more previous IVF cycles.
Another 2018 study reviewed 23 trials involving 5,807 women with PCOS who received acupuncture for ovulation induction. The study found that acupuncture improved ovulation frequency, menstrual frequency, and pregnancy rates compared with no treatment or sham acupuncture. Acupuncture also had fewer side effects than medication.
A 2016 study evaluated 28 trials involving 4,060 men with infertility who received acupuncture for improving sperm quality. The study found that acupuncture improved sperm concentration, motility, morphology, and viability compared with no treatment or sham acupuncture. Acupuncture also reduced sperm DNA fragmentation and oxidative stress markers.
These studies suggest that acupuncture may be beneficial for some people with fertility issues, especially when combined with conventional treatments. However, more high-quality research is needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for fertility.
How to find a qualified acupuncturist for fertility?
If you are interested in trying acupuncture for fertility, you should look for a qualified acupuncturist who has:
- A license to practice acupuncture in your state or country
- A certification from a recognized national or international organization, such as the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)
- A degree or diploma from an accredited acupuncture school or program
- A specialization or training in treating fertility issues
- A good reputation and reviews from previous clients
You can search for an acupuncturist near you using online directories, such as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). You can also ask for a referral from your doctor, friends, family, or support groups.
Before you book an appointment, you should contact the acupuncturist and ask them some questions, such as:
- How long have you been practicing acupuncture?
- What are your qualifications and credentials?
- How much do you charge per session and what are your payment options?
- How many sessions do you recommend and how often?
- What are your success rates and testimonials for treating fertility issues?
- What are the risks and benefits of acupuncture for fertility?
- What can I expect during and after an acupuncture session?
You should choose an acupuncturist who makes you feel comfortable, confident, and informed. You should also trust your intuition and avoid anyone who makes unrealistic promises or pressures you to sign up for a package or a contract.
How to prepare for an acupuncture session for fertility?
To get the most out of your acupuncture session for fertility, you should:
- Eat a light meal or snack before your session
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows access to your arms, legs, abdomen, and back
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs before and after your session
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush out toxins
- Arrive on time and relax
- Communicate with your acupuncturist about your goals, concerns, and feedback
- Follow the aftercare instructions and recommendations of your acupuncturist
Acupuncture sessions usually last between 30 to 60 minutes. During the session, your acupuncturist will ask you some questions about your health history, symptoms, lifestyle, and menstrual cycle. They will also examine your tongue, pulse, abdomen, and other areas to determine your diagnosis and treatment plan.
Your acupuncturist will then insert sterile, disposable needles into specific points on your body. The needles are very thin and usually cause little or no pain. You may feel a slight sensation of warmth, tingling, pressure, or numbness at the needle sites. This is normal and indicates that the needles are stimulating your energy flow.
Your acupuncturist may also use other techniques, such as moxibustion (burning herbs near the skin), cupping (applying suction cups to the skin), electroacupuncture (applying mild electric currents to the needles), or massage (applying pressure to certain areas of the body).
You will then lie still and relax for 15 to 30 minutes while the needles do their work. You may listen to soothing music, meditate, or nap during this time. Your acupuncturist will then remove the needles and give you some advice on diet, exercise, stress management, supplements, or herbs that may enhance your fertility.
Is acupunture for fertility a good fit for you?
Acupuncture is a natural and holistic therapy that may help with fertility by improving blood flow, balancing hormones, relieving stress, and supporting reproductive health. Acupuncture may also complement conventional treatments, such as IVF or IUI, by increasing their success rates and reducing their side effects.
However, acupuncture is not a miracle cure for infertility. It is not guaranteed to work for everyone or every situation. It is also not a substitute for medical care or diagnosis. You should always consult with your doctor before starting acupuncture or any other alternative therapy.
If you decide to try acupuncture for fertility, make sure you find a qualified acupuncturist who has experience in treating fertility issues. Prepare well for your sessions and follow the instructions and recommendations of your acupuncturist. Be patient and consistent with your treatment plan and monitor your progress and results.
Acupuncture may not be the answer to all your fertility problems, but it may be a valuable addition to your journey towards parenthood. We hope this blog post has given you some useful information and insights on how acupuncture can help with fertility. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us or leave them below. We would love to hear from you!
Acupuncture for fertility: Effectiveness, safety, and side effects (medicalnewstoday.com)
Acupuncture for Fertility: Can Acupuncture Help You Conceive? (whattoexpect.com)
Acupuncture for Fertility: Does It Really Work? – Cleveland Clinic