Besides pain management, fertility improvement is one of the most sought-after treatments in acupuncture. There is no doubt that trying to get pregnant can be a very frustrating and difficult journey. While modern medicine has improved the chances of pregnancy by leaps and bounds, there is still that certain mysterious “magic” that is just out of reach of the medical community. This is where acupuncture comes into play.
How does acupuncture improve the chances of pregnancy? Simply put, for women, it balances out hormonal fluctuations and improves blood flow to the uterus. For men, it again balances out hormonal fluctuations and improves the function/performance of sperm production.
Let’s first take hormone balance. For women and men, reproduction is very much tied to dynamic hormone stability. Taking women as an example (as most of my fertility patients are women), physical and emotional stress as well as genetics can disrupt the daily “pulse” of hormone frequency. Every day, every week, a woman’s cycle fluctuates. It pulses up and down, responding to its environmental changes. The more stressed a woman’s body and mind are, the more erratic those fluctuations are. The body is a living, highly-intelligent organism. For pregnancy to succeed, it knows it needs to make a happy home for the embryo. The more stress the body endures, the less happy the home the uterus is for reproduction. Acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetic side of the nervous system (rest and relaxation part of the nervous system). It calms the mind and the body down, allowing for the dynamic pulse of the hormone system to level out within normal ranges. Acupuncture also boosts the adrenals, ovaries, thyroid and hypothalamus (the organs involved in hormonal regulation) to their optimal function. By leveling out the physical and mental stress on the body, the reproductive system comes back into balance. This, similarly, is the case with men’s hormonal system.
Now let’s take a look at blood flow and production. Having a healthy, moderately thick uterine lining is the “home” for the impending fertilized egg. Without a happy home, the body cannot sustain embryo growth. In 1996, a major study found that acupuncture reduces blood flow impedance to uterine arteries. This study proved that acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus, allowing for that happy home. Additionally, stimulation of the uterus and ovaries can improve their function, leading to more egg production and increasing the chances of mature eggs (especially when doing IVF treatment). This is similarly so in healthy sperm production.
While acupuncture cannot guarantee a viable pregnancy, it can and has been shown to increase the chances. It boosts conventional medicine’s chances of success within the first trimester. Below are links to studies on acupuncture for fertility. It is advised for a patient to see an acupuncturist once a week for, at least, three menstrual cycles. This allows the body to come back into dynamic hormonal balance and improve blood flow to reproductive organs. For further questions, please feel free to contact Heather Sullivan, L.Ac.
Low Uterine Blood Flow Treatment
Influence of acupuncture on pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted-reproduction therapy
Acupuncture on day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome of infertile women
Impact of Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine on In-Vitro Fertilization Outcomes