Acupuncture for Infertility
Ready to start or grow your family? Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to support women’s health and enhance a couple’s chances of a successful pregnancy when they are dealing with infertility. The fertility journey is often filled with twists and turns from preconception to your much anticipated healthy delivery. Whether you’re trying to conceive naturally or you’ve already begun your IUI or IVF cycle, we are here to help. With proven acupuncture and electro-medicine techniques to balance hormones naturally or to assist your reproductive endocrinology team, we would love to help you with your newly growing family.
Acupuncture Increases Fertility Success by:
- Increasing uterine and ovarian blood flow
- Nourishing the uterine lining
- Regulating hormones and the menstrual cycle
- Improving ovarian/follicular function
- Reducing side effects of fertility medications
- Addressing stress levels associated with the fertility journey
- Regulating thyroid, pituitary, hypothalamus
- Improving egg quality
- Balancing the reproductive hormones
- Increasing sperm count and motility
According to the Mayo Clinic “infertility is defined as trying to get pregnant (with frequent intercourse) for at least a year with no success. Female infertility, male infertility or a combination of the two affects millions of couples in the United States. An estimated 10 to 18 percent of couples have trouble getting pregnant or having a successful delivery.
Infertility results from female factors about one-third of the time and male factors about one-third of the time. The cause is either unknown or a combination of male and female factors in the remaining cases.
Female infertility causes can be difficult to diagnose. There are many available treatments, which will depend on the cause of infertility. Many infertile couples will go on to conceive a child without treatment. After trying to get pregnant for two years, about 95 percent of couples successfully conceive.”
What Causes Infertility?
Approximately 1 in 4 infertile couples experience ovulation disorders. Reproductive hormones regulated by the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland or problems in the ovary can cause ovulation disorders.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
The most common cause of infertility is PCOS, marked by insulin resistance and obesity, abnormal hair growth on the face or body, and acne.
The two hormones that stimulate ovulation each month are follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) produced by the pituitary gland. Stress and weight gain or loss can disrupt hormone production and affect ovulation. Irregular periods or loss of period are the most common signs.
Premature Ovarian Failure
Also known as primary ovarian insufficiency, this is usually caused by an autoimmune response or by premature loss of eggs from your ovary. Premature ovarian failure is diagnosed when you are under the age of 40 and your ovaries no longer produce eggs.
If the pituitary gland produces too much prolactin (hyperprolactinemia), estrogen production is reduced and may cause infertility.
Diminished Ovarian Reserve
Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) refers to diminished egg quality and/or egg quantity leading to infertility. “A high day 2 or 3 FSH level, a low AMH level, a low antral follicle count (AFC), and a history of a poor response during stimulation in an IVF cycle are indicative of DOR (diminished ovarian reserve).”
Acupuncture helps infertility by regulating reproductive hormones, increasing blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, and assisting the body to improve egg quality.
Thyroid and Infertility
Your thyroid depends on balance in something called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). The hypothalamus and pituitary work together to produce the hormones that are necessary for egg production and ovulation. Because of this relationship, thyroid dysfunction can impact how much of those vital reproductive hormones are released. Disrupt these hormones and they negatively impact the menstrual cycle. Without the complete cycle, including ovulation, fertilization, and implantation, you can’t get pregnant naturally.
Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are linked to abnormal menstrual cycles. Several studies point to prolactin (produced in the pituitary) as the main driver. Acupuncture positively influences the HPA axis by reducing stress levels according to a study in the journal Endocrinology, (Volume 156, Issue 10, 1 October 2015, Pages 3649–3660). Balancing the HPA through stress reduction is another way acupuncture helps women with infertility.
Endometriosis is abnormal tissue growth in the uterus that implants and grows in other locations. Scar tissue develops due to this extra tissue growth or it’s surgical removal and can block fallopian tubes. This keeps an egg and sperm from uniting. Endometriosis can also affect the lining of the uterus blocking implantation of the fertilized egg. Electro acupuncture may potentially reduce scar tissue in less severe cases of endometriosis as well as lower your pain and reduce the effects of endometriosis.
Unfortunately, a combination of several minor factors in both partners could cause unexplained fertility problems. Although it’s frustrating to get no specific answer, this problem may correct itself with time. Acupuncture can often help couples with unexplained infertility.
Male fertility is a complex process. To get your partner pregnant, the following must occur:
- You must produce healthy sperm. At least one of the testicles must be functioning correctly. You must produce enough testosterone and other hormones to trigger and maintain sperm production.
- Sperm must travel to the semen. Sperm produced in the testicles travels through tubules until they mix with semen and are ejaculated out of the penis.
- There needs to be enough sperm in the semen. Low sperm count decreases the odds that one of your sperm will fertilize your partner’s egg.
- Sperm must be functional and able to move. If sperm motility is abnormal, the sperm may not be able to reach the egg or be strong enough to penetrate your partner’s egg.
How Can Acupuncture Help Infertility?
Acupuncture’s effects are wide ranging to assist women and men achieve normal reproductive function. Acupuncture for infertility integrates well into a couple’s assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments.
When Should I Start Acupuncture for Infertility Treatment?
Ideally we ask that you give us at least three months to prepare your body for pregnancy. Acupuncture frequency is similar to physical therapy where you receive more sessions in the beginning then taper off as your symptoms improve. We move to maintenance visits once your cycles normalize.
If you are already in the process of IVF or IUI, of course we wouldn’t have three months to prepare. After your initial intake, we would customize your treatment plan according to where you are in your assisted reproductive technology (ART) process. Treatment would start immediately and your sessions would be scheduled in conjunction with your fertility ART cycle.
Should I Continue Acupuncture After I Become Pregnant?
After you conceive, we recommend that you receive acupuncture through all of your trimesters. Acupuncture is ideally suited to all phases of reproduction from preconception to postpartum. Acupuncture during pregnancy helps both you AND the baby.
First trimester acupuncture decreases your chance of a miscarriage by improving blood flow to the placenta and preventing uterine contractions. Acupuncture also helps in early pregnancy to reduce or eliminate nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, and fatigue. As pregnancy progresses, acupuncture helps with low back pain, heartburn, headaches, and swelling. In late pregnancy, we prepare your body for an easy labor.
Our Baby Bounce Back protocol is for the fourth trimester. Postpartum acupuncture regulates the dramatic swing in hormone levels that occur once your body is no longer pregnant, decreasing your chances of postpartum depression. Acupuncture helps lactation issues, should they arise, by stimulating blood flow and enhancing milk production. Post surgical healing is quicker with acupuncture if you undergo a cesarean birth. Regular acupuncture helps with those sleepless baby nights, postpartum pain, and overall energy levels.
Set yourself up for success by calling today for a consultation. We’d be happy to help!