These days, women study and work harder than ever before. Stress, environmental factors and our diets can cause hormones to become out of balance. By the time a woman is ready to have a baby, getting pregnant can sometimes prove challenging.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be very helpful in readying the body for optimal fertility, a healthy pregnancy and a smooth delivery. Acupuncture can be used with or without Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to achieve the ultimate goal: a healthy baby.
Acupuncture can help with these common barriers to getting pregnant:
- Irregular Periods
- An-Ovulatory Cycles
- Advanced Maternal Age
- Hormonal Imbalances (FSH, LH, estrogen, progesterone, high testosterone)
- Poor quality of eggs, follicles or cervical mucus
- Thin endometrial lining
- History of Pelvic Infections
In Chinese medicine, many factors can be involved in optimizing fertility. One overarching theme in fertility with Chinese medicine is the energy of the kidneys. It is important to understand that the kidneys in Chinese medicine do not mean the anatomical kidneys in our bodies. If an acupuncturist says your kidneys are weak it does not mean you have kidney failure! According to acupuncture theory, the kidney energy is in charge of birth, growth, development and passing along genetic information. Often, boosting the energy of the kidneys with acupuncture and herbs is a key factor in getting pregnant, especially for women nearing or over age 40. Even younger women can have kidney deficiency contributing to their fertility struggles, and a complete evaluation can determine this. Boosting kidney energy can be achieved through acupuncture, herbal medicine and certain foods. One helpful food to add to your diet is black sesame seeds, which boost the kidney energy.
Another key in promoting fertility is regulating the menstrual cycle and all of the factors and hormones involved in it. Different acupuncture points and herbs can be prescribed to focus on goals such as: stimulating ovulation, building the endometrial lining and promoting progesterone so that the pregnancy can be sustained. Reducing or eliminating PMS and menstrual cramps is also considered important, because this means greater hormonal balance is achieved. It usually takes about 3-4 months to regulate the cycle with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Additionally, if a patient has conditions such as fibroids, cysts, endometriosis or a history of pelvic infections these factors will be considered and treated as well.
If a woman has decided to use IVF, acupuncture can be very useful for readying the body for the entire IVF cycle. It is recommended that a woman start receiving acupuncture at least three months before starting her IVF cycle. There are also specific protocols that can be done before and after embryo transfer. These protocols are based on studies conducted in Germany, which showed acupuncture with IVF had a much higher success rate than just IVF alone. However, acupuncture treatments are always individualized, so often other points are selected in addition to the protocol points in order to tailor the treatment to the particular woman. This allows the patient to reap the benefits of both the protocol and customization.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is holistic medicine, which means that physical, mental, emotional and spiritual factors are all considered. A woman undergoing acupuncture for fertility can expect for her health to improve in many areas. This is one of the most important things about using acupuncture for fertility because the healthier the woman is overall, the healthier her baby will be.