Acupuncture has been found helpful in the treatment of several maladies, and infertility is often mentioned as one of them. As you probably know, acupuncture involves the insertion of ultra-thin sterile needles in strategic locations throughout your body. These locations, called channels or meridians, are associated with energy pathways that the Chinese (who invented acupuncture 5,000 years ago) call “qi”. With respect to infertility, one theory is that acupuncture helps regulate the functioning of the thyroid gland, which in turn has effects on the menstruation cycle.
Some causes of infertility are beyond the scope of acupuncture – tubal adhesions, for example. However, acupuncture does increase blood flow to the endometrium, which helps create a healthy uterine lining. It is also helpful in improving follicular and ovarian function. There are minimal known negative side-effects of acupuncture. Herbal medicines are often combined with acupuncture to increase its effectiveness.
For patients contemplating artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization or donor-egg transfer, acupuncture for fertility enhancement should begin three to four months prior for maximum therapeutic effect. A Swedish university hospital routinely recommends acupuncture pre-and post-transfer of embryos. The Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness recommends a combination of acupuncture, herbals and traditional medicine, though the latter can sometimes be omitted without diminishing results.
Acupuncture is thought to be helpful in preventing miscarriages. Since these occur most frequently in the first three months of pregnancy, acupuncture should not be stopped until this critical period has passed. Acupuncturists decide which points to needle depending on the patient’s condition: For instance, if the patient is suspected of being pregnant, the following acupuncture points are avoided:
Improperly applied acupuncture might result in a miscarriage, so it is important to use qualified fertility experts when seeking this treatment. Acupuncture is indicated for spasmed tubes (which it can de-spasm), but not blocked tubes. In conjunction with herbals, acupuncture is used to treat:
You’ll be reassured to know that most states require professional licensing of acupuncturists. Using an acupuncturist that is board-certified is no doubt a prudent step, but you also want to ascertain the acupuncturist’s expertise in reproductive disorders.