Does acupuncture help with fertility?
When trying to conceive, you may receive a barrage of advice on what can help to get pregnant. Acupuncture to help improve fertility has been a common practice for decades, yet it’s still unclear whether fertility is positively impacted by the practice. Let’s dive into what you can expect from fertility acupuncture, potential benefits, and when acupuncture may be able to help you.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of traditional eastern medicine that’s believed to rebalance energy flow through your body, which can improve your overall health and wellbeing. The practice involves inserting thin needles into specific points along the body, sometimes moving them or pairing them with electrical stimulation. Acupuncture may also help with treating:pregnancy-prep-combo
- Headaches or migraines
- Various sorts of pain
- Asthma or bronchitis
- Anxiety or depression
- Menstrual pain
What can you expect from fertility acupuncture?
Acupuncture often blends eastern and western approaches to medicine, and styles vary among practitioners. At your first session, the practitioner might ask you about your lifestyle and why you are seeking treatment. In this initial evaluation, the practitioner may examine any pain points, your tongue (shape, coating, and color), your face color, and your pulse (strength, rhythm, and quality).
The first session can take up to an hour between the initial evaluation and treatment, but any following appointments are typically shorter. It’s common to have 6 to 8 sessions, but the number of treatments will depend on your goals for treatment.
Where do they put needles for fertility acupuncture?
A typical acupuncture treatment will use between 5 and 20 needles that will stay in place for 15 to 30 minutes. The thin needles are inserted at strategic points along the body often just under the skin, though some needles might be inserted deeper into the muscle tissue. Treatment is individualized for you and your current needs using your lower abdomen, legs, feet, arms, and hands as potential acupuncture points. Each needle is sterile, nontoxic, and single-use.
Soreness and minor bleeding or bruising at acupuncture points are possible side effects of treatment. Infection is a less common complication. Clotting disorders and blood thinners increase your risk of bleeding. The acupuncture needles are sometimes electrically stimulated. If you have a pacemaker or other electrical device, electrical stimulation could result in bodily harm, and should thus be avoided.
Discuss any safety concerns with your primary care provider before seeking alternative fertility treatments as acupuncture may not be recommended for you.
Benefits of acupuncture for women
The benefits of acupuncture have been debated by medical professionals and researchers throughout the years. Some practitioners believe that acupuncture can help to improve the production of endorphins, the brain chemicals that assist in regulating your menstrual cycle. Other research suggests that acupuncture can benefit follicle development for those undergoing IVF due to increased blood supply to the ovaries. Acupuncture may also help increase blood flow to the endometrium. In all, there is not enough definitive research available to determine whether acupuncture is truly effective for infertility.ovulation-tests
Acupuncture and infertility
If you plan to incorporate acupuncture into your health journey, know that the effects and/or benefits may depend on your individual health conditions and medical history. Fertility acupuncture practices are highly dependent on your unique situation.
The stimulation of acupuncture points theoretically acts on the nervous system in ways that help regulate your system. In terms of fertility, physiological effects could include:
- Mediating the release of neurotransmitters affecting reproductive hormones and organs
- Stimulating blood flow to the uterus, which may increase chances of embryo implantation
- Inhibiting stress hormones by boosting the production of endorphins
There is not enough evidence to recommend acupuncture by itself as an effective fertility treatment, but it can be part of an integrative treatment plan. Some practitioners suggest that acupuncture can make traditional fertility treatments more effective.
How successful is acupuncture at helping fertility?
pregnancy-testsAcupuncture is still a source of controversy because the framework of western medicine can’t fully explain how or if it works. Studies remain inconclusive on whether acupuncture can successfully treat infertility. Although acupuncture has known health benefits, such as stress relief, many argue that the practice cannot be directly associated with treating infertility. Much of the research is still anecdotal rather than scientifically based.
The question we’re left with is whether the benefits have enough value, even if some claim it’s just the placebo effect. Speak to your primary care provider about your options before seeking out acupuncture as a fertility treatment. As long as it’s approved by your primary care provider and not harmful in your situation, it’s a pretty low-risk practice with minimal side effects.