Acupuncture and infertility in women
Infertility is the inability to get pregnant after a year of regular intercourse without birth control. Infertility has become more common in the US in recent years, with approximately 10% of couples being affected. In the acupuncture clinic, we see more and more couples coming in for fertility support than ever before.
Acupuncture can be both a stand alone treatment of the signs and symptoms that accompany infertility or be used in conjunction with Western medical treatments. Most of the acupuncture research on infertility shows how powerful acupuncture can be to support IVF and IUI procedures when done concurrently.
Because acupuncture treats the whole person, not just the symptoms, we have a unique advantage to helping with infertility. Acupuncture can help by strengthening the overall constitution and balancing the body’s systems to allow for improved overall health. Acupuncture and herbs can also help move physical blockages, like blocked fallopian tubes or fibroid tumors which are viewed as static accumulations of blood and fluid in these locations.
What causes infertility in women?
There are four major categories of causes of infertility:
Ovarian factors: poor egg quality, anovulation (no ovulation), irregular FSH levels
Fallopian tube factors: Fallopian tube blockage
Uterine factors: fibroids, endometriosis, poor quality endometrial lining
Cervical factors: poor quality cervical mucus, anti-sperm antibodies
When recurrent miscarriages happen very early on in the pregnancy, we also consider immunological factors and sub-clinical blood clotting disorders as causes of infertility. This is one particular time in which an acupuncturist should be working closely with a reproductive immunologist or reproductive endocrinologist. Acupuncture and Western medicine together can help women become pregnant even after repeated miscarriage when an integrated approach is taken.
Acupuncture theory interprets these causes of infertility in different terms based on how the symptoms appear in the person. Because acupuncture treats every person as an individual, acupuncture treats infertility as different in each woman. When you come in for your appointment, we’ll be happy to talk to you about how Western medical diagnosis aligns with Chinese medicine diagnosis.
What about infertility in men (male factor infertility)?
In addition to working with infertility in women, we also consider male factor infertility. You can read more about infertility in men related to sperm abnormalities on the Men’s Health pages.
How is infertility approached by acupuncture?
Our first step in working with infertility through acupuncture is talking. We do a thorough interview to get to know you – we talk about your health overall, your periods, your diet, your sleep, everything we can – and build a picture of who you are as a person. We may ask you to do basal body temperature (BBT) charting so we can understand more about your menstrual cycle. We then take all of this information and look at it through the lens of Chinese medicine to make a diagnosis. We let the diagnosis inform how we treat you with acupuncture. Herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle changes can also help treat the signs and symptoms associated with infertility.