When my husband and i discovered we had some fertility issues, several people suggested that we tried acupuncture. I was wary. The thought of long needles not only filled me with dread, but my brain struggled to comprehend how they could help me get pregnant. It just didn’t make sense.
But there does seem to be some evidence that acupuncture can improve fertility. In fact, my doctor—who’s pretty forward-thinking—suggested that I combine it with the treatments she was prescribing, since there was no harm in having both Western and Eastern medicine on my side. Why and how does it work?
Acupuncture is based on a Chinese belief that our bodies have rivers of energy, called meridians, that nourish the tissue. Sometimes, though, those rivers get ‘blocked’ – and our body feels the effects in the form of aches, pains, diseases and conditions. Acupuncturists help to remove those blocks, restoring the body’s natural flow and our minds and bodies to health.
Western medicine explains it a different way. Instead of ‘rivers of energy’ there are hormones and chemicals that compose the internal regulating system. Acupuncture helps increase the level of beta endorphins, which lower our pain levels and give a sense of happiness and euphoria. (They’re the same hormones responsible for the so-called runner’s high.)
Medical tests have shown that there is proof that acupuncture points do exist. For example, chinese have believed that needles applied on the little toe can reduce eye pain.When brain scans were done during acupuncture treatment, the part of the brain that was responsible for vision lit up.
What does it do for infertility though? While there are no solid scientific studies , there is anecdotal evidence that it can improve sperm count and quality, improve ovulation of people with PCOS, and regulate the hormones responsible for ovulation. It can stimulate blood flow, which will lead to healthier endometrial lining, and lower the stress levels that occur during fertility treatment. Usually it is best to have acupuncture the same day that the embryo is going to be transferred.
Read more on other holistic treatments that can help fertility. Eventually my husband and I were able to conceive – my toddler is running around as I type this very sentence. Though I don’t know if the acupuncture was responsible, I know that it made me feel better to know I was doing everything I could. After all, a baby was worth a thousand needles any day.