Background on acupuncture for fertility
Before diving into acupuncture for fertility, first let’s address the terms fertility vs. infertility. Western medicine often focuses on a problem or disease. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Infertility FAQs state that “infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex”. The CDC further states that infertility is a common problem that is experienced by 19% of women aged 15 to 49 years old with no prior births. Additionally, 26% of women in this group either have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.
Acupuncture for fertility can be a complex topic. When I get calls from patients asking if I treat infertility, I make a point to talk in terms of fertility rather than infertility. Words are important, and I believe that a positive attitude is essential for attracting what we want to bring into our lives. I choose to focus on fertility.
Fertility from a Chinese medicine perspective
Chinese medicine looks at the person as a whole and from an energetic perspective. There are a variety of things that can cause an energetic imbalance resulting in decreased fertility. For example, someone can be too hot or too cold. She can be energetically deficient with a lack of the vital substances necessary for conception and to nourish a fertilized egg. She may have stagnant energy which can result in endometriosis, cysts, or fibroids.
Sometimes, a patient can get pregnant yet then suffers recurrent miscarriages. This can be due to a different kind of energetic imbalance. In this case, it is important to help reinforce the patient’s energy in a way that the uterus is supported and nourished appropriately.
Every person is unique, and I make the time to understand a patient’s whole health history and background so I can determine exactly what might be hindering their fertility. For example, someone who spent years as a competitive swimmer in cold pools might have very long menstrual cycles due to an excess of cold in their system.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine alone can help improve fertility and result in a healthy pregnancy and childbirth experience. When a patient chooses this pathway of treatment, the first thing that is often done is to help balance the patient’s overall energy. Then, acupuncture treatments are timed and tailored to the patient’s cycle with the goal of achieving a balanced 28-day cycle though the following four phases:
- Week 1: Period
- Week 2: Pre-ovulation
- Week 3: Ovulation
- Week 4: Post-ovulation
In most cases, I include lifestyle advice in each treatment. This involves customized recommendations for diet, level of rest and activity, managing stress, and exposure to heat or cold.
Supporting Western medicine treatments like IVF
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be a great support to western fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF). In fact, more and more fertility clinics are seeing the value of combining eastern and western medicine. Many clinics recommend that their patients receive acupuncture treatments. There have been a number of studies showing the increased success rate of IVF when combined with acupuncture. Examples include:
- Acupuncture Improves IVF Pregnancy Rates Finding
- Acupuncture Fertility Success with IVF Revealed
- Acupuncture Found to Up IVF and Treat Infertility
- Best Acupuncture Protocols for Infertility IVF and IUI
- Acupuncture IVF Fertility Discovery Research
The male part of the equation
A thorough practitioner considers the male part of the equation as well. It’s important to make sure the male partner is also evaluated and supported in the fertility journey. Poor fertility impacts men in terms of a deficient sperm count, low motility, or even poor morphology (shape) of their sperm. Stress, overwork, diet and environmental factors can affect men as well as women. Men can receive acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments to help improve their fertility.
Ear seeds for fertility
Ear seeds can also be very helpful for fertility. An ear seed is a small sphere placed on an acupuncture point on the surface of the ear. Adhesive tape holds the ear seed in place. It works by exerting a gentle pressure on the acupuncture point. There are specific points on the ear that correspond to the lower back. A patient can wear ear seeds for up to five days. They are a great way to continue treatment at home. Ear seed kits are also available for people who are afraid of needles. You can learn more about ear seeds in my blog about ear seeds.
Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you with fertility? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-4269.
About the Author
Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca.
About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC
HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.