Esther Hornstein, L.Ac., Dipl. | Article

Acupuncture to Treat Infertility

By: Esther Hornstein, L.Ac., Dipl.

Who would have thought that pricking tiny needles into your arms and legs could enhance your chances of having children Thousands of men and women in the U.S. are using acupuncture and Chinese medicine to successfully conceive healthy babies.

Why Acupuncture is Needed
Today, one in eight individuals needs medical assistance to conceive. The ‘epidemic’ of infertility is thought to have been caused by environmental causes (bpa, pesticides and every day use of xeno-estrogenic chemicals) and couples trying to conceive for the first time later in life.

Medications such as chlomid, and procedures such as Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) and In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) are increasingly becoming the most used drugs and procedures in the U.S. However, these drugs and procedures have many unwanted side effects, or could damage mother’s health in the long run. Therefore, many American couples also use acupuncture to help them get pregnant because acupuncture has very few risks and side effects.

What is Acupuncture
Acupuncture is the insertion of thin hair-like needles into the skin at locations called acu-points. These acu-points have functions based on Oriental Medicine to treat illness. Acu-points are located through out the body, from head to toe, including the ear. Each has one or more specific function and can be used alone or in combination with other acu-points to achieve an effect.

Acupuncture needles are very thin. There is nothing going through them, so the diameter of the needle is very small. A slight pinch is all that is felt upon insertion, but there is no sharp pain as during an injection or withdrawal of blood. Once the needle is in, most patients feel a sensation of dullness, heaviness or tingling. Acupuncturists call this the qi (pronounced chee) sensation. The qi sensation is one indication that the acu-point is activated and working to increase flow of energy and doing its specific function.

Many patients find themselves relaxed after the needles are inserted. Relaxation occurs because acupuncture releases the body’s natural endorphins (feel good hormones). It’s a great opportunity to take a power nap. Relaxing actually increases the effectiveness of the treatment because energy can move freely when the body is calm. The acupuncture needles generally stay in between 10-30 minutes.

How Does Acupuncture Work for Infertility
Clinical practice shows that acupuncture once weekly for three menstrual cycles is proven to regulate the period, reduce spotting and reduce menstrual pain. Acupuncture treatments are tailor made for each stage of the menstrual cycle. The treatments leading up to ovulation prepare the uterus for implantation. Treatment during ovulation increase chances of fertilization. And, finally, post-ovulation treatments encourage, the embryo to stay in the uterus and promote healthy pregnancy. Yes, we can do all this just with needles.

The World Health Organization has stated that dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and irregular menstruation are treatable by Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. As a New York State Licensed acupuncturist I have been working with couples towards fertility since 2007. In my experience, couples who use acupuncture for infertility find themselves calmer, able to sleep better, having more energy and better to prepared to become parents. It is of utmost importance that the couple be of sound mind and have enough physical and emotional energy to handle the obstacles that they might encounter on the road to fertility. In addition to bringing positive results, acupuncture makes that road less bumpy.

An Integrative Approach
Some couples choose to use acupuncture as an adjunct with medical interventions. If a couple has an underlying endocrine problem (pcos, hypothyroidism) preventing conception, GYNs and Acupuncturists work together towards conception. Many studies have shown that acupuncture increases the success of IVF cycles. And along with medication, male infertility is easily treated with acupuncture

The pressure that couples feel while trying to have a baby can, at times, be unbearable. Acupuncture is a useful tool now readily available to our community.

Esther Hornstein is a New York State Licensed acupuncturist serving Brooklyn, NY.