Working with fertility and reproductive health is an area of medicine that I absolutely love. Acupuncture and integrative medicine can work incredibly well for fertility for a number of reasons. Some of the most common questions I get about fertility are answered below.
Who Benefits from Fertility Acupuncture?
Fertility care is not just for people who are struggling to get pregnant, though it certainly can be helpful for this. Anyone that is interested in becoming pregnant (or if you’re male, contributing to a pregnancy) either naturally, through IVF or other assisted reproductive means, is a prime candidate to receive acupuncture for fertility.
Merritt Jones Family Acupuncture specializes in acupuncture and integrative medicine for fertility, which may include use of acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition therapy, lab evaluations and more. Chinese Medicine is unique because it allows us to understand and engage with the body on many levels, helping to create a full picture of why a person might be having fertility challenges to begin with. When a body becomes out of balance, for any number of reasons, women and men alike may experience fertility challenges.
For folks dealing with challenges getting pregnant, acupuncture and integrative medicine may be able to help you realign your body and make pregnancy possible. For those who are not having challenges with fertility, but who are looking to create a comfortable and healthy pregnancy, acupuncture is also great option. Fertility acupuncture is about more than just getting pregnant, it is also about creating and sustaining a healthy and thriving pregnancy for mom and baby.
Unpacking the Term “Infertility”
I often get women into the practice broken hearted because their MD has labeled them as “infertile”. Many women are surprised, and often relieved to learn that it is quite common to struggle with conceiving – in fact many women struggle with conceiving, and ultimately get pregnant. This alone does not necessarily make someone “infertile.”
I like to think of fertility as a kind of dance. It requires a certain flexibility or fluidity along with consistent rhythm – they rhythm of the menstrual cycle, that is. It is important to understand that the body, especially women’s bodies, are constantly changing. Women’s bodies change with the monthly cycle, as well as an on a broader spectrum, from puberty to menopause. Though ideally these changes would happen seamlessly and fluidly in a natural and consistent rhythm, sometimes things get “stuck,” making make it hard to “dance.” In other words, modern day lifestyle can sometimes make pregnancy a challenge.
It is frustrating that “infertility” is so quickly used to label the difficulty in becoming pregnant, it has such a negative tone. I prefer to think of fertility challenges as part of the dance where you may need a little support to help you regain your balance – your flexibility and fluidity.
It is true that some women may truly be unable to conceive, there are certainly some conditions that make this true, and this is another conversation. For many women, however, who have no history of gynecological issues or chronic health issues, and even for some who do, it is more likely that you may very well be able to conceive, just not where you currently are in your “dance” or in your current state of health.
Where you are in your dance largely depends on imbalances in your lifestyle, stress level, emotional state, diet, medications and much more. This is where acupuncture and integrative medicine shine!
For example, many women are prescribed hormonal birth control from the time they are a teenager. Over time, these synthetic hormones take women out of their natural rhythm and can make it hard to conceive. Integrative acupuncture can help restore this rhythm.
How Does Acupuncture Help Fertility?
In short, Integrative Acupuncture works well for fertility because it can promote and restore balance in the body, giving you back your fluidity, flexibility and rhythm. It does this through addressing your unique constitution or “body type,” identifying where there are imbalances, and realigning them.
Beyond that, acupuncture works for fertility by reducing stress, balancing the endocrine and hormone systems and providing better blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, creating a stronger chance for an egg to be nourished and carried to term.
Fertility treatment from an Integrative perspective supports women from pre-conception to delivery and beyond. The goal is not just to get pregnant, but also to have a thriving pregnancy and a healthy baby.
By the time a person or couple comes to see me, they have tried most everything under the sun to get pregnant, including various diets and supplements, frequent visits to doctors who ordered labs, prescribed drugs (like clomid), IUIs, & IVFs and so on. They usually come confused, frustrated and ultimately no closer to their goal.
In working with Merritt Jones Family Acupuncture, we will certainly look at all of those things, but we will also go a bit deeper.
Your egg or sperm quality today along with your cycle patterns, endometrial lining and more are the direct reflection of the state of your health about several months ago. Diet and nutrition, hormone levels, stress levels and more impact your current state of fertility. Therefore, not only will we look at your current labs, but we will address how to create lasting balance in all areas of your life, to promote health egg or sperm quality, and an environment in which an embryo can grow and thrive. Because again, the goal is not just to get you pregnant, but to help you grow a healthy and thriving baby.
Studies support, and I have also seen clinically in practice that Integrative Acupuncture may positively affect fertility in the following ways:
- Increase quality of egg or sperm quality
- Improve blood flow to the uterus
- Improve/thicken uterine lining, allowing for greater chance of implantation
- Reduce in blockages (cysts, polyps) that may prevent the the egg and sperm joining
- Improve blood flow for placenta growth
- Reduce stress, which effects every aspect of health.
- Improve sperm morphology, motility & count
Fertility is a dance, so get to know your body’s rhythm. Seek support where you need it, strive to be patient, and above all, be gentle with yourself.