Metapoint Acupuncture and Wellness provides client-oriented fertility acupuncture services to the Greater San Antonio area. Read on to learn more about the value of the services we offer.
Fertility Acupuncture and You
If you Google “infertility,” you are bound to come across references to acupuncture and how it can help with couples trying to conceive, whether through natural means or “assisted” interventions (IUI, IVF, FET, etc). Fertility acupuncture can indeed help a couple achieve their dreams of parenthood.
If you plan on trying the natural route, acupuncture can help regulate menstrual cycles, improve blood flow, and can boost sperm counts. Proper planning through temperature charting can help you make sure you are “trying” during the best window for conception.
Western medicine believes a woman is born with a fixed number of eggs, and that as we age, egg quality and quantity decreases. Egg improvement, according to Western practitioners, is impossible. However, practioners of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) have a different belief. We believe that in the egg’s journey each month during ovulation, factors CAN affect egg quality. If the individual is at her optimal health (reproductive and otherwise)—the egg she releases for fertilization each month will improve. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas can improve egg quality.
I also coach couples on dietary choices during different phases of each cycle and lifestyle choices that can help increase their odds of conceiving, naturally or otherwise. Supplements are also suggested that can improve egg quality and sperm count as well as decrease inflammation in the body. And for anyone coming into my office for fertility help, I offer this advice that is extremely important: start treating your body as if you were already pregnant, even if you may not become pregnant for months. What you do today can affect your fertility tomorrow, or even three months from now. Work schedules, stressful relationships, poor dietary choices, recreational use of drugs and alcohol, harsh workout routines—all of these factors affect can affect your ability to conceive.
But where does fertility acupuncture fit into the equation?
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been shown to improve women’s reproductive health for centuries. Fertility acupuncture can help regulate menstrual periods, and curb monthly PMS and cramping. Herbal prescriptions can bring your body back into balance naturally in all stages of a woman’s reproductive life: from her teen years to beyond menopause.
As seen in research, fertility acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help couples conceive. This occurs in the cases of those trying to conceive naturally, as well as those seeking to achieve their fertility goals through the use of assisted reproductive technologies (IUIs, FETs, IVFs, etc.). Acupuncture helps promote blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, decreases cortisol levels, which allows both assisted technology and your body’s own innate health to work with increased odds for conception and carrying to term.
Acupuncture can help keep stress in check so that it doesn’t interfere with your plans and your dreams of having a family. Stress alone can hamper your ability to conceive, and the process of trying and not achieving your dreams can be heart wrenching.
Acupuncture can help regulate periods, if you have an irregular cycle. Regulated cycles increase your odds of conceiving. Acupuncture can increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, which helps promote better uterine lining (a nice place for an embryo to land and embed itself)—this is important in either camp—those trying to conceive naturally or otherwise. During acupuncture treatments, needles are not only are placed on the abdomen, but on the arms, legs, head, and ears. For example, one study showed increased blood flow when a certain point on the leg was used. It’s not magic, mind you, but is part of acupuncture’s way of communicating with different systems in the body, sending signals to increase blood flow (among other signals)—all without the use of hormones or pharmaceuticals.
Acupuncture decreases cortisol levels. Cortisol is a greedy hormone. If you are stressed (and who isn’t—especially if they are trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant)—your cortisol levels rise. Blood flow to the digestive system and reproductive system is decreased. Cortisol can also “steal” other hormones: if you are under stress, or your body perceives it is stressed, cortisol can take a building block of your sex hormones (and thyroid hormones, too!) and convert it into…more cortisol! Even if you don’t “feel” stressed, cortisol can be hard at work, increasing in volume, and decreasing your chances of getting pregnant. Acupuncture drops cortisol levels. Period. It sends a message to turn down the stress response. Here’s an article from Time.com that shows how this works: http://healthland.time.com/2013/03/15/needle-this-study-hints-at-how-acupuncture-works-to-relieve-stress/
Acupuncture also helps muscle relax—in this case, the “smooth” muscle that the uterus is made of. This can be especially helpful after assisted technologies, such as IVF or FET have occurred. A relaxed uterus is a better place for an embryo to attach. Cramping after egg retrieval during an IVF cycle can be uncomfortable, as well as post-implantation cramping. Acupuncture can help ease cramping during this time, without introducing yet another medicine into your body. Fertility acupuncture can also help reduce the signs of OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome), which can occur in some women undergoing fertility treatments.
So, what should your plan of action be?
For a couple trying to conceive unassisted, acupuncture once or twice a week is optimal for a three-to-six month run. BUT—if the male partner is unable to come for weekly treatments, we can still achieve improved results with supplementation and Chinese herbs. If the female partner can only come in once a week—that’s still helpful, but it just might take slightly longer to see progress.
For a couple trying to conceive with assisted means, the same is true—twice a week is best, for a 6-12 week run BEFORE the IVF/IUI cycle occurs. Then acupuncture twice a week until the embryo transfer, then once a week until bloodwork comes back to confirm the pregnancy.
What about when you get pregnant? Why, acupuncture for pregnancy, of course!
Acupuncture can help ease the symptoms of early pregnancy: nausea, dizziness, lethargy. Once a week treatments for the first trimester is optimal. Acupuncture during the final month of pregnancy can also help ease labor.
Let Metapoint help you realize your dreams of a family! Book an appointment today!