Infertility is a surprisingly common, but emotionally devastating, issue that affects women of all ages. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), 10.9% of all women, and 6% of married women, between the ages of 15 and 44 are unable to get pregnant within the first year of trying. Many different treatments are available, but increasingly, Western doctors are referring women for the ancient Chinese art of fertility acupuncture. Of course, this suggestion is met with skepticism by many women who see it as alternative medicine or even bunk. Here is a skeptic’s guide to fertility acupuncture.
Understanding Fertility Acupuncture (The Eastern View)
The Chinese have been successfully using acupuncture for fertility issues for over 5,000 years. Eastern medicine hinges on the concept of Qi, the vital energy or life force that flows throughout the body. When Qi flows freely, the body can restore itself to optimal wellness. Through the stresses and traumas of daily life, though, Qi can become blocked. Acupuncture releases these blockages by placing thin, painless needles at key spots along the body.
Fertility acupuncture takes this one step further, intentionally directing the flow of Qi to soothe the mind and body, enrich the reproductive organs, and develop a bodily environment that is conducive to the creation of life. It is typically used as part of a holistic treatment plan that also uses herbal remedies, nutritional supplements, and personalized lifestyle counseling.
Understanding Fertility Acupuncture (The Western View)
Western medicine does not recognize Qi. Instead, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the regions of the brain that are responsible for relaxation and healing. The microtraumas caused by the acupuncture needles are also believed to stimulate the natural immune response.
Regardless of exactly how and why it works, though, Western medicine increasingly believes that fertility acupuncture does work, thanks to well-controlled scientific studies. It is often used in tandem with in vitro fertilization (IVF) for a better chance of success. Increasingly, insurance companies are now starting to pay for acupuncture.
Each person receives an individualized treatment plan. In general, though, fertility acupuncture is generally performed twice per week, for 30 minutes at a time. Treatment normally lasts for 3 to 6 months, although many practitioners like to continue treatments throughout the first trimester to minimize the risk of miscarriage. Some women then switch to pregnancy-supporting acupuncture treatments, which can help reduce morning sickness, back pain, and other common pregnancy symptoms. Chinese herbs and nutritional supplements are often used in tandem to further ready the body to carry a baby to term.
Can Fertility Acupuncture Help Me?
In most cases, fertility acupuncture is considered safe regardless of health status. However, we will perform a detailed workup on your first visit to identify any existing emotional or physical issues that must be addressed. Fertility acupuncture does not fix structural problems such as fibroid tumors, nor does it restore fertility to women who have passed their childbearing years. Therefore, we highly recommend that you also receive a Western medical exam to identify any issues that should be fixed before you begin acupuncture treatments.
Are There Risks Involved?
Fertility acupuncture carries few health risks. The biggest concern is that the treatment points used to encourage pregnancy could cause miscarriage if you happen to already be pregnant. Open communication is highly advised before you begin treatment, so treatment plan reflects health needs.
In addition, our herbal remedies could interact with certain medications. It is essential for you to provide us with a full list of medications you take, and to provide your doctor with a full list of fertility herbs you take before beginning any new medication. If you are using fertility acupuncture in tandem with IVF or another Western treatment methodology, tell us as well as your Western physician. We will work together to create a treatment plan rather than accidentally working at cross purposes.
No single treatment is right for everyone. However, for those who are trying to conceive, fertility acupuncture has been scientifically proven to boost the chances for a successful pregnancy. Speak with your doctor, and then make an appointment to come in for a full examination and treatment plan.
Located in Pacific Palisades, with satellite clinics in Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, and Beverly Hills, Thumos Health Center offers patients exceptional personalized care. If you are ready to take the first steps toward a more integrative approach to your health care, we invite you to phone 310-927-2792 to schedule an appointment at any of our Los Angeles locations. Our highly knowledgeable and friendly staff will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have.