You probably heard of women getting pregnant after going through acupuncture treatments. Well, what if we told you it wasn’t just word of mouth? More and more studies have corroborated the fact that acupuncture can help boost fertility. But how does it work exactly?
Acupuncture, which is rooted in the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang, has been around for more than 2,000 years. Involving the placement of thin needles into specific areas of the body, the practice stimulates the body’s meridians (channels of energy). Depending on where you place them, the needles can go a long way: making a person calmer or more energized; alleviate back pain and help battle certain addictions like cigarette smoking; and, yes, regulate menstrual cycles and balancing hormones to help a woman up her chances of getting pregnant.
Have you had a hard time conceiving, wondering what your next move should be? You may want to give acupuncture a try. Here are 6 ways it can boost your fertility.
1. It can regulate your menstrual cycle. When it comes to fertility, the use of acupuncture boils down to the idea that conception is possible when the Yin and Yang energies of the body are in balance and flowing correctly. Stimulating those energy channels can gently remind the body what it is supposed to be doing and when.
During the Yin phase, which is known to happen during the new moon, your menstrual cycle is dominated by growth and consolidation. That is, when the body is getting the egg ready and when the womb prepared for a possible pregnancy. During the Yang phase, however, your body is supposed to get ready for action and change -- namely, ovulation and your period. That being said, what constitute a “normal cycle” can vary greatly from woman to woman. But if you are experiencing prolonged menstrual cycles or have very heavy bleeding during or in between periods, it may be because your body is out of sync with the Yin or Yang energies. Acupuncture will nudge a woman’s cycle towards being more predictable and with bleeding lasting between 3-5 days.
2. It can improve egg quality. Acupuncture treatments can increase blood circulation to the ovaries, which can then improve egg quality. Women with blood tests showing elevated FSH and/or low AMH often fall into the Chinese medicine diagnosis category of Kidney Yin Depletion. Their basal body temperature chart may show unsteady temperature readings in the follicular phase or a shortened follicular phase. In these cases, following acupuncture and herbal treatments during the follicular phase and, ideally, for 3 months prior to trying to conceive can really help get your body back on track.
3. It can improve IVF and IUI outcome. Acupuncture doesn’t just work on its own. If you’re already following an infertility regimen, it can work well in tandem with the medications your doctor has prescribed you to stimulate your ovaries. That’s especially true if you have had a poor response to fertility medications. Acupuncture, once or twice a week, can be exactly what you need to make the difference and get your body to respond better to your fertility treatment. In addition, some doctors recommend to receive acupuncture directly prior to and directly after an IVF transfer.
4. It can promote ovulation. In China, women who are diagnosed with PCOS are among fertility patients most commonly treated with acupuncture. For those who are not ovulating (anovulatory), inserting needles in points of the abdomen (including the uterus point, or zi gong) can create or jumpstart a menstrual cycle. For those who don’t know why they are having trouble conceiving, it’s best to have acupuncture treatments coincide with ovulation.
5. It can prevent miscarriage. Some miscarriages are due to genetic abnormalities within the embryo, which is when using acupuncture before trying to conceive to boost egg quality can be helpful. Receiving acupuncture in early pregnancy is perhaps the most important time to receive it. But otherwise, the practice can assist the physiological processes that the body follow to support the growing embryo -- from implantation, to establishment of the placenta, to maintaining progesterone levels.
6. It can help you relax. Many patients report that receiving acupuncture helps them feel better physically and mentally. It can also help you relax and not stress as much about the challenges you are facing as you are trying to conceive. Being able to destress, in and of itself, is a great aid to boosting fertility.
Anna Mehlhop Strong is a Licensed Acupuncturist and dedicated practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Her education included training in the prescription of herbal medicine, diagnosis and treatment of health imbalances according to TCM, and a firm foundation in Western anatomy and physiology. She specializes in acupuncture for fertility, obstetrics, and pediatrics. She is a proud mom of 3 and resides and works in Queens as of Earth + Sky Healing Arts.