Advocates of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) argue that such practices can help cure infertility, but critics suggest it’s all fluff.
This article looks at scientific research and other professional evidence that acupuncture can actually help you get pregnant under certain circumstances.
What is TCM and acupuncture?
Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to a group of medical practices that have been developed in China based on thousands of years of cultural tradition. TCM includes practices such as acupuncture, massage, exercise, herbal preparations, and diet. The popularity of TCM exists, especially among infertile patients. Many IVF clinics even use acupuncture before egg retrieval to improve performance, and some even have in-house acupuncturists.
Specifically, acupuncture is a procedure that uses tiny, thin needles that are inserted just under the surface of the skin at specific points that are associated with energy flowing through the body. The points used during a session will vary depending on the individual’s specific needs. Acupuncture has been used successfully to treat infertility, as well as to treat nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy, to relieve stress and physical pain in conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritis.
TCM works with herbs that are often used in conjunction with acupuncture to promote proper hormonal balance and ovarian function. These are often available from an acupuncturist and are often even customized to the unique needs of the patient.
Acupuncture and infertility
So, what evidence is there that acupuncture can actually help with infertility? Much research has been done to explore the potential for increasing success rates. While some of them are still inconclusive and require more research, there are enough results showing significant improvement in performance and benefits, especially when all other options have dried up.
Many infertile patients turn to some form of alternative therapy while trying to conceive. It has even been shown to be effective in cases of recurrent pregnancy loss, increasing the chances of a live birth. Acupuncture can promote regular ovulation in women and has fewer side effects than other fertility treatments. TCM and acupuncture may even increase pregnancy rates in women who have had two or more unsuccessful IVF cycles. It may even improve overall fertility.
Should You Try Acupuncture?
The first thing most people ask is, “Will it hurt?” Needles aren’t exciting, and the idea of lying still while someone sticks them in you isn’t relaxing at all. But people who have personally gone through acupuncture treatments and are afraid of needles assure you that you won’t even feel them inserted. Sometimes there is a tingling sensation, but this is not something the brain associates with needles or injections. Some often fall asleep during acupuncture sessions.
The most important thing to consider when thinking about acupuncture is finding a qualified professional. They must have certificates. If you are looking for acupuncture treatment for fertility issues, be sure to find an acupuncturist who specializes in or is familiar with infertility. For many, this may be due to affordability, as most insurance policies do not cover alternative therapies. Treatment sessions can range from weekly to monthly, or even just a few times, resulting in IVF treatment or an attempt to conceive. Whatever your monetary constraints, there are options that are customizable for you and plenty of reasons to give it a try.
This article is for informational purposes only. Before using any of the above information, consult a certified professional.