4.5 million couples experience infertility each year. If you’re one of them, you can feel lost, as though no-one understands the way you’re feeling. Sometimes, it can seem as though there is nothing that can help.
However, there is a natural treatment that has been shown to increase the effectiveness of fertility treatment for couples struggling with subfertility, increasing your chances of holding that precious bundle in your arms.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves placing fine needles at certain sites of the body, called Meridians. According to Chinese tradition, this stimulates your Qi (pronounced Chee), a life-force which must flow around the body unrestricted in order to ensure health and wellbeing.
If this sounds like a bunch of New Age hooey, it may be worth pointing out that acupuncture is being used successfully as a part of Western medicine to treat a number of medical conditions, including back pain, migraine and osteoarthritis.
Why Use it with Fertility Treatment?
Ifeoma Okoronkwo, an acupuncturist and professor in medicine at New York University, says that encouraging Qi to flow around the body is calming and restorative, “helping the body accept the creation of life”. There is evidence that the real reason it works may be related to brain chemistry, which has been shown to impact fertility. Acupuncture releases endorphins, reducing stress.
Attempting to conceive is stressful, so anything that makes a woman feel calm is likely to increase the chance of conception.
Acupuncture also appears to affect the neuroendocrine system, the system in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland that regulates your hormones and stimulates ovulation.
But does it work?
In a 2002 study, published in the journal, Fertility and Sterility, a group of German researchers tested 160 women who were undergoing IVF. 80 patients were given two twenty-five minute acupuncture treatments, and 80 were given no acupuncture. Following the experiment, 34 of the 80 women who received acupuncture were pregnant (42.5%), as opposed to 21 of the patients who did not (26.3%).
Acupuncture is not a cure-all that will help every woman, but it has a good chance of increasing the effectiveness of fertility treatment in women with non-specific sub fertility.
Finding an Acupuncturist
If you want to try acupuncture, try searching for a qualified acupuncturist in your area. Seek an acupuncturist with a reputable medical qualification and membership of a professional body.