Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used for thousands of years to help women and men optimise their health for conception. There are many research studies which suggest that acupuncture may help in many areas of fertility, conception and pregnancy. However, as with all aspects of fertility, there are many contributing factors to a successful pregnancy that we still do not know or understand yet. Along with Western Medicine, TCM cannot guarantee success when it comes to babies.
The research into the use of acupucture for fertility has suggested that it can benefit:
• Irregular menstrual cycles.
• Ovulation dysfunction eg annovulatory cycles (no ovulation), late ovulation & irregular ovulation
• Circulation to the uterus, ovaries and pelvic region.
• Optimising sperm quality
• Unexplained infertility
Timing of Treatments for Women
TCM addresses each stage of the menstrual cycle; menstruation, follicular phase, ovulation and luteal phase. A different focus is applied at each stage, along with acupuncture points to address any other underlying health issue. Usually treatments take place on a weekly basis until the menstrual cycle is working optimally. It can take up to 3 months for this to happen as it takes the female body 3 months to mature an egg so any changes that are made in month 1, come to fruition at the end of month 3. In many cases, the results can be seen much more quickly but each patient is unique so it is difficult to know at the outset of treatment.
If you are thinking of having Acupuncture for fertility reasons, then I would recommend booking an initial consultation (which includes a treatment) and then we can discuss an individualised treatment plan for you. This will also take into account your time and financial constraints.
Timings of Treatments for Men
In many ways men are more simple to treat as they don’t have the same monthly hormonal fluctuations. Quite often Acupuncture treatments for male fertility are focused on reducing stress levels and rebalancing any underlying health issues.
In my opinion, sperm quality can always be improved. The NHS sperm analysis tests have quite low criteria parameters . They are grading the sperm with a view to see if it is acceptable to be used for IVF. This is not the same as assessing whether it is excellent sperm for conceiving naturally. Luckily, sperm quality reacts quickly to improvements in health and lifestyle. It takes 3 months for a man to develop an immature sperm to one that can be used to conceive. So any changes that are made in month 1 benefit the sperm used at the end of month 3. The quantity and frequency of acupuncture treatments needed completely depends on the individual. I would recommend booking an initial consultation (which includes a treatment) in order to tailor an individualised treatment plan.
Assisted Fertility Treatments
Research suggests that Acupuncture can benefit the varying types of Assisted Fertility Treatments such as IVF, ICSi, IUI. It is usually recommended that acupuncture treatments take place for the woman in the lead up to a cycle, immediately before and after embryo transfer and in the 2 week wait.
It is obviously a very emotional and intense time for a couple and I think that it is important that you are comfortable with me as a practitioner to guide and reassure you through your experience. I have worked with hundreds of couples going through IVF, ICSi and IUI and have had my own struggles with fertility.
It’s not essential, but I would suggest that you come and see me in advance of your embryo transfer. I hope to make your fertility journey as comfortable and as relaxed as possible and it would be great to meet you and reassure you before the big day comes.
A specific acupuncture prescription is used just before and after embryo transfer, but having a few treatments in advance of this can help to rebalance any underlying health issues and promote a happy, calm mental state.
Secondary Infertility (struggling to conceive a second baby) is not discussed as often as primary infertility but I have found in my clinic, that I treat more couples for secondary infertility than primary.
It is usually far more a complicated emotional situation. The desire for a child is great, as is the guilt of not being completed by the existing child. Struggling with fertility is an extremely emotionally complex situation. I cannot think of any other issue that has such intense, overwhelming, varied emotions involved. TCM and acupuncture are very good at helping to smooth out the emotional rollercoaster, whilst also addressing any health issues that may be underlying.
The positive thing is that you already have a successful conception history and we know that you can create and carry a baby to term. In many cases, acupuncture treatments for secondary infertility are focused on reducing stress levels and regulating the menstrual cycle. Treatments usually take place on a weekly basis at least until the menstrual cycle is normalised. I know that once you have a child at home, your free time is limited so there is no pressure to have a set number of treatments. We will work out what is right for you, your health, your home life and financial pressures.