Treating Infertility With Acupuncture
A growing body of evidence supports the effectiveness of acupuncture in increasing the chances of successful IVF treatment. It seems at least part of this is due to the ability of acupuncture to promote deep relaxation, enhancing blood circulation to the lining of the uterus.
There is also evidence to support the ability of acupuncture to regulate endocrine function (hormone release) in sub fertile women and men, leading to increased chances of conception. Of particular note is its effect on polycystic ovary related fertility problems.
How does Acupuncture assist infertility?
The causes of a persons difficulty conceiving are inevitably complex and diagnosing the individual pattern of disharmony responsible is at the heart of traditional acupunctures approach to treatment.
In order to arrive at an appropriate diagnosis the acupuncturist will usually take a full case history as well as using information gained from taking the pulse and looking at the tongue.
In traditional Chinese medicine the radial pulse is taken on both wrists with the quality of the pulse being compared between the two wrists and at different distances from the wrist crease. The tongue displays significant variations in colour, shape, size and coating. TCM correlates these changes with disorders of different organs and body systems, these changes are then linked back to the individuals disorders and treatment is devised accordingly.
An acupuncturist will make an individual diagnosis and select an appropriate combination of acupuncture points, which may vary from week to week as the treatment progresses and according to the stage of the menstrual cycle. So one treatment may use points on the back, perhaps after the period, while another prior to the period may involve points on the hands and feet.
What happens when I come for treatment?
Treatment will usually involve the insertion of 6-12 fine, sterile, surgical stainless steal needles and their retention for 20-30 minutes. After insertion, the practitioner will sometimes manipulate the needles at intervals to achieve a specific therapeutic effect. In most individuals withdrawal of the needles leaves no mark as the natural elasticity of the skin closes the point again without bleeding or bruising.
How long will the treatment last?
A standard course comprises 6 treatments but, as with many long standing conditions, successful treatment of infertility can require several courses of treatment to achieve results. In most cases treatments will be weekly, although fortnightly treatments can be appropriate in some cases.
Is Acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is widely regarded as a safe and reliable therapy and is increasingly used by medical doctors and physiotherapist, as well as traditional acupuncturists. Only sterile, single-use, disposable needles are used and competence is ensured by membership of a professional body with rigorous standards of training and professional conduct.
Is there anything I can do?
Being treated with Chinese medicine is not just about being 'done to', it is also about actively managing ones own health and treatment Is a partnership between patient and practitioner.
Factors including diet, exercise and a work-life balance have all been shown to have an impact on fertility outcomes and your acupuncturist can help you with appropriate choices in these areas.
Acupuncture 'improves baby' chances
Acupuncture can increase the chances of women having a baby by 65 per cent, according to research.
The needle therapy makes IVF treatment more successful by helping the lining of the uterus to become more receptive to receiving an embryo.
It is thought to alter the autonomic nervous system, which controls muscles and glands, and rebalance hormone
levels critical for conception.
Susan Seenan of Infertility Network UK said: 'Preliminary results from this study appear to show that acupuncture given with embryo transfer can help improve success rates and we look forward to further research in this area to confirm this.
'Infertility treatment is extremely stressful and success is not
guaranteed'. She said many women claimed therapies such as acupuncture helped them to relax and deal with the stress of IVF treatment - which can boost success rates.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that 30 minutes of acupuncture therapy increased the odds of conceiving with IVF by 65 per cent.