For thousands of years, acupuncture has been used widely throughout Asia, and it has been gaining popularity and recognition as a powerful complementary therapy in Europe and the US since the 1970s. The World Health Organization has long recognized acupuncture as effective therapy for hundreds of medical conditions. As we develop better information and tools to enhance fertility, acupuncture has become widely regarded as an effective complementary form of care that can improve outcomes for couples seeking Assisted Reproductive Medicine.
Whether choosing western medical fertility treatment, or seeking to increase your fertility naturally, you may choose acupuncture to increase your chances of success, as well as to relieve stress and anxiety and promote relaxation and feelings of well-being during your fertility journey.
Acupuncture appears to work by effecting the central and peripheral nervous systems. Clinical evidence has shown that acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins from the brain, causing a relaxation which is often the first noticeable sensation during and after treatment. Acupuncture also provides deeper benefits that involve promoting the healthy flow of blood and Qi (pronounced “chee”), the energy that animates our bodies. Simply put, Qi can be interpreted as a very subtle electricity. This innate energy flows through the body in meridians or pathways, with a distribution similar to the flow of blood through the intricate system of small vessels known as capillaries, or the flow of lymph through its vessels. Like blood, Qi provides nourishment to the internal organs, including the female (and male) reproductive organs.
Acupuncture & IVF
Recent research concludes that acupuncture is most effective in improving fertility and increasing success rates with IVF when it is accompanied by lifestyle and diet adjustments, and when received weekly for two months or longer leading up to egg retrieval and the embryo transfer. Studies also show that stress and anxiety are major factors in the fertility journey, especially for women undergoing IVF; acupuncture significantly reduces anxiety and stress, providing noticeable relaxation from the very first treatment. And, research indicates that best outcomes can be had by including Chinese medical diet and lifestyle advice. I regularly provide this whole-lifestyle counseling in my treatment plans.
Your acupuncture treatments while you are undergoing western medical care for infertility will focus on increasing the flow of Qi and Blood to the female reproductive organs, while balancing and harmonizing your other organs, to enhance fertility. Our goals will be to improve ovarian response to hormonal stimulation; to nourish and thicken the uterine lining, and decrease uterine cramping, to encourage implantation; and to reduce stress levels to decrease stress hormones, and increase pregnancy-promoting hormones. We will use acupuncture and Chinese diet and lifestyle advice to work toward your goals.
Most people have many questions before starting acupuncture, and perhaps the most common of these is, “Does acupuncture hurt?” In fact, acupuncture needles are tiny – only slightly thicker than a human hair – and are manufactured to pass through the skin painlessly. Some people feel a slight pinch as the needle goes in, and then nothing, or a not unpleasant feeling like aching or pressure. Most people feel deeply relaxed, and many fall asleep, while resting with the needles in place, about 30 to 45 minutes. It is also important to emphasize that I use only sterile, single-use, disposable needles. There is no additional substance applied to the needles; the deep relaxation you will feel is your body’s natural response. A typical treatment requires 10 to 15 needles, placed at various parts of the body – hands, feet, ears, ankles, wrists, belly, etc – with shallow insertion.
On the day of embryo transfer, I can provide acupuncture at ICRM. On this day, we will do one treatment before and another immediately after your transfer. I will be “on call” for all patients on their transfer day, regardless of time or day of the week. Apart from transfer day, I provide acupuncture at my office, at 750 E. Warm Springs Ave.
I wish you the best and would be happy to support you in your journey to parenthood! I am happy to address any concerns you may have about acupuncture.
To schedule a free 10 minute phone consultation, or to schedule your acupuncture appointment, please contact me by phone at 208.860.4278, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Naomi Jankowitz, LAc is a Licensed Acupuncturist with a Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine. She is National Board Certified by the NCCAOM in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Biomedicine. Naomi has over twenty years’ experience practicing Chinese medicine, and includes acupuncture, Chinese nutritional counseling, lifestyle advice, and instruction in Qigong (Chinese style meditation) in her individualized treatment plans.