When it comes to infertility treatments, the road to pregnancy can often be a long and emotional one. Infertility treatments, including IUI and IVF can be invasive and painful for many couples. And with skyrocketing costs, these types of infertility treatments are becoming increasingly out of reach for everyday couples. For this reason, more and more of those suffering from infertility are looking to acupuncture for help when it comes to conceiving. Inexpensive and safe, acupuncture has proven effective for many couples suffering from the pains of infertility.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical treatments being practiced today. Developed more than 2,000 years ago in Ancient China, acupuncture is believed to help reduce pain and treat illness and disorders through the placement of sterilized needles in the body. These thin, hollow needles are placed on specific points all over the body in order to help realign the body's natural forces. The needles are then twisted or vibrated to help the body to become rebalanced, allowing it to heal.
Acupuncture was first brought to the United States in 1971, and has since become exceptionally popular. It is now used by more than eight million American men and women every year in order to help treat a variety of health issues, including infertility.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture works by restoring the flow of energy throughout the body. Chinese medicine practitioners believe that there are 20 different energy pathways throughout the body. Sometimes, these energy pathways become blocked causing the body to experience illness and disease. By inserting acupuncture needles at specific acupuncture points throughout these energy pathways, an acupuncturist can release these blockages and restore bodily health. There are more than 2,000 acupuncture points all over the body.
Western medicine believes that acupuncture is effective at treating illness and disease for other reasons. Western researchers have found evidence that acupuncture helps to release certain hormones found in the brain, including endorphins. These endorphins contribute to easing pain and encouraging the body to relax, allowing you to feel better. Acupuncture also appears to encourage blood circulation, allowing immune system antibodies to tackle foreign viruses and infections more quickly.
What Can Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture has been used to treat a number of different illnesses and conditions, including:
- cancer pain
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- headaches and migraines
Can Acupuncture Treat Infertility?
Acupuncture is also one of the most popular alternative treatments used to help women conceive. Many women experiencing infertility opt to use acupuncture, either alone or in combination with IVF, in order to increase their reproductive health. Men, too, seek out acupuncture treatments for help with their own fertility problems, including erectile dysfunction and poor sperm counts. And though it may surprise you, a number of studies have shown that acupuncture appears to be quite affective when it comes to promoting conception.
A study presented in 2004 by the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center in Colorado, examined the effectiveness of acupuncture in combination with IVF treatments. The study involved 114 women, all of whom would be undergoing IVF treatments at a fertility clinic. Half of these 114 women received acupuncture treatments prior to and just after their IVF treatment. The remaining women received no acupuncture. More than 51% of those women who did receive acupuncture became pregnant after IVF, compared to only 36% of the control group. Additionally, the control had higher rates of miscarriage and stillbirth (20%) than those who received acupuncture (8%).
Another study conducted in 2005 at Shanghai University in China also concluded that acupuncture appeared to work well when it comes to treating male fertility problems. 40 men experiencing unexplained sperm problems were analyzed. 28 of these men received acupuncture, twice a week for five weeks. After the treatments were completed, semen samples were collected from the men and their sperm were analyzed for count and motility. Those men who had acupuncture performed had an increase in their percentage of sperm in their semen. They also had better sperm structure and morphology than their non-acupunctured counterparts.
Why Turn To Acupuncture for Infertility?
Many couples experiencing infertility opt for acupuncture for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, acupuncture is one of the only natural treatments that has been proven effective against infertility in clinical studies, which is why many mind/body courses include infertility in their workshops. Additionally, acupuncture is much more affordable than traditional fertility treatments. As IUI and IVF prices become increasingly out of hand for most couples, many are now seeking alternative options, like acupuncture. Depending upon the number of sessions you require, acupuncture can cost as little as $300 for a series of sessions.
Who Can Use Acupuncture for Infertility?
Almost anyone experiencing a fertility issue can look into using acupuncture to help relieve their condition. Acupuncture is generally recommended when there is a functional problem that is preventing pregnancy. These problems may include ovulatory disorders, endometriosis, or other hormonal imbalances. Acupuncture can be used alone or in combination with other fertility treatments. Generally, acupuncture is not seen to be helpful for women and men experiencing structural fertility problems, such as a blocked fallopian tube or improperly formed epididymis.
Finding an Acupuncturist for Your Infertility
When it comes to finding an acupuncturist for your infertility troubles, it is best to find someone with a lot of experience. The more experience that you acupuncturist has, the better your chances are of having a good experience. People who aren't properly trained can make mistakes during acupuncture sessions, which can lead to infection and other serious health risks, including punctured organs. Be sure to find an acupuncturist who is licensed to practice in your state. This assures you that the acupuncturist has completed her training hours and is allowed to practice on people. Consult with your reproductive endocrinologist before making an acupuncture appointment. He may be able to recommend a practitioner that operates in your area.