Acupuncture during fertility treatments is becoming increasingly popular. Although there isn’t much research to support it as a cure-all for what ails us, studies have shown its effectiveness in treating certain types of infertility.
Though most of us know the gist of acupuncture, here’s a quick rundown.
Acupuncture is ancient Chinese treatment that involves strategic placement of pins in the body. This is usually in a grid-like pattern spanning our whole bodies. The idea is that we have energy constantly flowing through our bodies along “meridian lines”, and placing needles into specific areas can alter this energy flow to improve health.
Acupuncture and Fertility
So what do needles and energy lines and Chinese medicine have to do with fertility?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, careful acupuncture treatments can improve blood flow and improve ovarian and follicular function. Improved blood flow means better circulation for the ovaries and uterus, making them stronger and healthier. This improves the chances that the uterine lining will support the egg to full-term.
It’s also possible that the general effects on brain chemistry can contribute to better fertility. A review of the research on WebMD describes the link between brain hormones and conception:
- Acupuncture increases the production of endorphins, a chemical tied to menstrual regulation.
- Acupuncture can improve hormone production by stimulating the areas of the brain tied to our hypothalamus and pituitary gland (two of our biggest hormone producing organs). These hormones can improve egg production and affect ovulation.
Should I Try It?
With these benefits in mind, we’re brought to our final question: is it right for you?
The answer depends—though there is plenty of research to support acupuncture’s effectiveness at improving blood flow and regulating hormones, it’s not a panacea for all infertile women. Research generally indicates that it improves fertility in women undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or other assisted reproduction therapies rather than for women who go it alone. The benefits are limited mostly to the secondary effects of acupuncture on the reproductive system. Hence, it’s hard to argue that acupuncture therapies can’t at the very least support a more comprehensive fertility treatment plan.
Women struggling with infertility should speak to their physicians or fertility specialists about whether acupuncture might be an option for them. While the thought of being poked with needles isn’t fun, any treatment that can get you from fertile to infertile is worth a second look.
If you would like to make acupuncture part of your conception plan, we have a list of acupuncturists that we are happy to recommend.