From in vitro fertilization (IVF) to fertility drugs, modern medicine has vastly expanded the number of infertility treatments available today. Unfortunately, these methods can often be expensive, ineffective, and even risky. For these reasons, alternative techniques like acupuncture are gaining popularity among couples struggling to conceive.
What Causes Infertility?
Infertility is a complex condition with numerous etiologies. In women, for example, stress can interfere with the delicate balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and reproductive glands, thus disrupting ovulation. Likewise, stress can trigger uterine spasms that inhibit the implantation of a fertilized egg. The most common cause of female infertility is ovulation disorder in which low levels of progesterone or high levels of prolactin stop the ovary from releasing a mature egg.
Both stress and hormonal imbalances can also impact male reproductive function. Anxiety, for instance, can alter sperm count and motility as well as cause impotence. Hormonal imbalances also interfere with sperm production.
While the fertility drugs often prescribed to women have a 20 to 60 percent pregnancy rate, they also have adverse side effects including bloating, fluid retention, weight gain, nausea, and abdominal tenderness. Fertility drugs for men, on the other hand, have a success rate a third of the rate for women.
How Can Acupuncture Help?
During an acupuncture session, thin, sterile needles are inserted at strategic points on the body. Once stimulated, these needles are believed to restore the qi or energy that flows through the body, thus promoting spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical balance. Acupuncture specifically benefits the reproductive system by reducing stress, balancing the endocrine system, and increasing blood flow to essential organs. These benefits thereby improve the patient’s ability to conceive, whether they be male or female.
Although acupuncture can be used on its own, it often works best in conjunction with Western fertility treatments. For instance, reports suggest that, when used with IVF or fertility drugs, acupuncture increases conception rates by 26 percent. However, the technique can be used effectively on its own. Just remember to consult your acupuncturist as well as your primary care doctor first.
Doctors Guangpi Xu and Wanzhu Hou have practiced holistic medicine for over 40 years. At their Rockville, MD, practice, All Natural Medicine Clinic, they use acupuncture to not only promote fertility but also treat pain and autoimmune diseases. To schedule an appointment, call (301) 770-4480. For more on their services, visit their website.