Many more couples are turning to acupuncture to cure infertility problems and help them make a baby.
What is acupuncture and how does it work?
Acupuncture is an ancient medical practice that originated in China over 2000 years ago.
In acupuncture, sterilized needles that are thin and hollow in shape are placed at specific points (sometimes referred to as acupuncture points) in the body in order to realign the body’s natural forces. The needles are then twisted or vibrated (it is not as painful as it sounds!) so as to rebalance the body and to decrease feelings of pain, disease and other illness.
Acupuncture works by restoring energy flow to the body. Chinese medical practitioners believe there are 20 distinct energy pathways that travel throughout the body. When one of these energy pathways becomes blocked, disease, illness or pain occurs.
By placing needles at specific points, the blockage is minimized, restoring health. There are over 2 000 such points in the body.
Western medicine now recognizes the benefits of acupuncture. Studies have shown that acupuncture causes the release of hormones, such as endorphins, which cause the body to relax and therefore heal.These hormones can also increase blood flow, enabling antibodies to attack viruses and infections in the body.
Acupuncture and Infertility – Men
Male infertility can also benefit from acupuncture. Acupuncture can be very effective at treating sperm health problems such as a low sperm count. Studies have shown that acupuncture can increase the amount and quality of a man’s sperm.
Acupuncture also be used to cure erectile dysfunctions.
Acupuncture and Infertility – Women
Many women choose acupuncture infertility treatment either on its own or in conjunction with assisted reproduction procedures, such as IVF.
There is a growing amount of anecdotal evidence that acupuncture can be effective in treating infertility in women. Whilst not enough medical research has been done, some scientific studies have also proved the effectiveness of acupuncture for infertility.
A 2004 study conducted by the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center in Colorado found that 51% of women who underwent both IVF and acupuncture treatment at the same time became pregnant, while only 36% of those who only underwent IVF did. The latter group also had higher rates of miscarriage stillbirth (20%) compared to those women who had received acupuncture (8%).
Acupuncture seems to work best when a functional problem is the cause of infertility, specifically when endometriosis, ovulatory problems or hormonal imbalances are the cause for not getting pregnant.
On the other hand, acupuncture has not been proven to be effective when structural problems, such as an improperly formed epididymis or a blocked fallopian tube, are the cause of infertility.