Infertility is on the rise in the United States, statistics show 1 in 8 couples struggle to conceive. More and more couples are turning to acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to help them conceive. There are many diagnosable issues that contribute to infertility and they are split evenly between the sexes (40% women, 40% men while the remaining 20% is unexplained). Most couples that I treat have 2 or more diagnosed issues, for example; poor sperm morphology along with one blocked fallopian tube. Typically a couple must try to conceive for one year without success before they get approval for further testing from their Western medical doctor/Insurance. Insurance rarely covers infertility, but may cover diagnostic testing and labs (sperm analysis, HSG, hormone levels etc.). Once an issue is detected they are referred to a specialist for further assistance; gynecologist, OBGYN, urologist, or endocrinologist and treatment options will be discussed. Western Medical options generally include; surgery, fertility medications/hormones, IUI, or IVF.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine has been addressing men and women’s reproductive health for over 2,500 years. Here are some of the common reasons couples seek a acupuncturist specializing in fertility;
1). Regulating irregular menstruation and ovulation- It’s hard to conceive if you have irregular periods and don’t know when you are ovulating. Many women have had a history of irregular periods and were initially put on birth control to regulate their cycle however the underlying cause of irregular cycles was never addressed. Acupuncture in conjunction with specific dietary changes and Chinese Herbs can often regulate a cycle and ovulation.
2). To improve sperm and egg quality. Acupuncture can improve sperm and egg quality by increasing blood to the testes and ovaries. Acupuncture can also relax the nervous system (the body doesn’t want to reproduce when it’s constantly in “fight or flight mode”). It take 90 days for sperm and follicles to fully develop, when a patient comes to me for an initial consult I recommend supplements and herbs too improve quality. I also go over their medical history, lifestyle habits and diet to determine if there is anything that can be contributing to poor quality that can be removed or reduced.
3). Many couples have a specific diagnosed issues contributing to infertility such as; low AMH/High FSH, PCOS, Endometriosis, and poor sperm morphology. I will also look for undiagnosed issues that may be contributing to infertility such as food allergies or leaky gut.
4). General preconception support. Many couples seek acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to prepare the body before trying to conceive. I typically recommend resolving any low back pain or menstrual issues before trying to conceive to ensure there is proper blood flow to the reproductive organs. I also recommend waiting for 3 months after going of birth control before trying to conceive to allow the body to reset and detox from the hormones (to prevent miscarriage). If the patients have had health issues in the past like endometriosis I may recommend specific labs like a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to make sure the fallopian tubes are open, or a sperm analysis if the male partner has had a recent hernia.
5). Recurrent miscarriage. Some women have no problem conceiving but have a hard time carrying to term. I typically recommend Western labs (MTHFR, full thyroid panel, auto-immune issues, and progesterone levels) and address any issues I see from a from a Chinese Medical perspective such as building energy and the quality of the blood to ensure a nice thick uterine lining that can support a pregnancy. I also recommend high quality supplements for both partners to ensure good egg & sperm quality.
6). Conjunctive support in preparation for IUI’s and IVF. I treat patients in all phases of their fertility journey including preparation for IUI’s and IVF. Treatments are tailored to improving egg quality and growth, preparing the uterus for implantation and helping increase the uterine lining. I also provide acupuncture during a frozen embryo transfer (FET) to help relax the patient and uterus and help the embryo implant.
An initial acupuncture session includes an full fertility health history, recommendations regarding herbs, supplements and beneficial lab work and any other conjunctive therapies that I may find helpful for the specific case
. Typically I recommend acupuncture 1-2 times per week until the patient has conceived and into the first trimester.