Acupuncture has become quite well known to increase the possibility for successful conception, healthy pregnancy and the eventual delivery of a healthy baby. This notoriety was originally spurred in 2002 by a German study that found acupuncture to increase pregnancy success rates by 42% when performed in conjunction with IVF treatments. However, acupuncture on its own has been used for centuries for promoting fertility as it was first recorded in early Chinese medicinal literature dating back to the eleventh century.
Acupuncture provides an excellent treatment option which can be of great help on the journey to conceive independently or in conjunction with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). It is a natural, holistic approach toward reproductive success, which targets the following depending on a specialized treatment plan:
This is helpful to understand why acupuncture is so successful at increasing the rates of pregnancy. Furthermore, it plays a substantial role in the quality of life from pre-conception all the way through to the delivery of a child. This is accomplished through strengthening the Qi (vital energy) of both parents to optimize the health of their offspring.
Chinese medicine treatment is becoming a mainstream holistic approach to create a positive pregnancy experience. Once a woman becomes pregnant, acupuncture treatment reduces uterine contractions, supports implantation and is helpful to help ensure the healthy development of the baby during the first trimester. It further helps with stress and anxiety and reduction of morning sickness during this period. Acupuncture is recommended throughout the pregnancy right up to delivery. Plus research studies have found significant results that acupuncture:
Acupuncture provides natural and gentle care that is the treatment of choice for many pregnancy related conditions such as headaches, back pains, fatigue, nausea and anxiety. It also prepares a woman for delivery and can be used to induce labor if a woman is past her due date. Due to its action on the cervix, the treatment may result in a shorter and less complicated delivery. Post-delivery acupuncture is also helpful to once again build Qi and Blood and to help the woman with her milk supplies, sleep patterns, and to increase energy while promoting relaxation and calm through the early months of mothering. It’s also quite common for parents to bring their babies and children in for treatment. Ah yes, acupuncture can become a family affair!
During the initial consultation and throughout the duration of treatments, discussion and recommendations are also shared in terms of lifestyle and dietary changes that would help to improve conception. Stress reduction, proper sleep and rest, balance of work and play, and optimum nutrition are essential to further increase your chances for success in conception, implantation, and full term reproduction. There will be a detailed evaluation of medical history and time allotted to answer questions and discuss special concerns. The treatment plan will be set forth at that time based on the specifics of this history combined with current health status, presenting symptoms, energetic health and time constraints.
It may be beneficial to take particular Western or Chinese herbal medicine or to practice T’ai Chi or Qigong exercise to further support the effect of the acupuncture. Therapeutic massage is also suggested to build blood circulation, reduce stress and induce overall calm. Choosing one or all of these techniques in conjunction with acupuncture become an integrative holistic approach to conception, pregnancy, and delivery of a healthy baby.
Many couples, as well as women or men individually, come for treatment in the initial stages when they are simply thinking about creating a family. Others begin receiving treatment as soon as the decision has been made to try to get pregnant naturally. In both instances, desire to conceive naturally is the primary objective.
Others are doing treatments with a gynecologist or reproductive endocrinologist and want to add acupuncture to their fertility and virility protocol. For this, it is acupuncture treatment is recommended for at least three months prior to conception for the best results. Although it is also helpful to start treatment right before doing IUI or IVF – if that is all that is possible. Each person's individual time-frame needs are honored to maximize results accordingly.
Acupuncture can be used alone or in combination with Western medicine protocols to help with conception - such as insemination, In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) or egg donor transfer. Empirical research has established that Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) combined with acupuncture enhances a woman's ability to conceive. This has been monumental in raising awareness about the profound help that this ancient method provides for couples looking for any and all possibilities for helping them create a family.
"Acupuncture balances, harmonizes and nourishes.
It prepares your body for conception.
Having IVF without acupuncture is like planting a seed into unfertile soil."
Dr. Vitalis Skiauteris, Auckland, New Zealand
A German study done in 2002 showed that adding acupuncture to the IVF treatment protocol greatly enhanced chances of becoming pregnant. Points were chosen to positively influence blood flow and energy to the uterus and to provide a sedative effect. The results of the 160 women in the study showed that those undergoing IVF combined with acupuncture had a pregnancy success rate of 42.5%, versus 26.3% for the women who had IVF alone.
More recently, an American study involving 114 women showed that 51% of the women who had acupuncture and IVF treatments became pregnant versus only 36% of the women who had IVF alone. Deeper analysis of this study revealed that, while 8% of the women in the acupuncture group miscarried, the rate of miscarriage in the IVF-only group was 20%. Furthermore, women who received acupuncture also had lower rates of ectopic pregnancies.
Furthermore, physicians at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center have made the following statements about the numerous, promising benefits of acupuncture associated with increasing fertility in women:
- Increased blood flow to the uterus leading to uterine wall thickness - an important marker for fertility
- Increased endorphin production which effects release of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) which is involved in regulating reproduction
- Lower stress hormones responsible for infertility
- Impact on plasma levels of the fertility hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol (E2), and Progesterone (P)
- Normalization of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, a key process in fertility
- A positive effect for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal imbalance present in three percent of adolescents and adults.
The research studies are producing astounding results and show great promise. This combined with the documented clinical success of thousands of acupuncturist throughout the world creates great hope for many.
The beauty of acupuncture is that treatment is tailored to the specific needs of each person, looking toward the root cause of any challenges with conception all the way through to delivery. The support that is provided for the whole person through the entire process is a necessity – and in many instances, this is the only place provided it at a time when it is needed the most. All variables are taken into consideration to create the best course of treatment, in many cases working in conjunction with the physician, mid-wife or others in a supportive role. This whole body health approach provides a key to unlocking the unlimited potential in healing, creating balance physically, mentally and spiritually. Acupuncture maximizes health within oneself, empowering them to produce life in another.