As an acupuncturist, infertility issues for both men and women form a significant part of my daily work. There is a great need for help in this area and there cannot be any greater satisfaction than helping to bring a new baby into the world.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a very ancient medicine. Its principles were written down around 500BC in China. However the beginnings of acupuncture are lost in the mists of time, going back some 5000 years. Acupuncture is based on the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”), which very roughly equates to energy. Another concept is Blood, which roughly equates to our concept of blood. Our Qi flows along meridians or channels which cross the body surface and eventually penetrate deep within to connect with our body organs.
Another important concept is Yin-Yang, which is essentially a concept of energetic balance. For instance if a person has a deficiency of Yin, so that the Yang is not counter balanced, the excess Yang results in night sweats, dry mouth and irritability. On the other hand if the Yang is deficient the person feels cold and urinates a lot.
Illness, or in this case, infertility arises as a result of these imbalances. By inserting needles into different acupuncture points along the path of some meridians the internal organs can be influenced and the body bought back into balance.
Acupuncture on the Back
Female infertility can arise as a result of a number of imbalances. One of the most common causes is known as Kidney Yang Deficiency or “Cold Uterus”. Typically the person may feel chilly, urinate a lot, will have a cold abdomen and like putting a hot water bottle on their tummy. The coldness that arises in the uterus prevents conception by blocking the blood supply to the uterus. Acupuncture using warm needles (moxibustion) is used to bring the person back into balance and hence fertility. Another common cause is Blood Deficiency, where the nutrient quality of the blood is poor. The uterus is not given an adequate supply of nutrients in order to sustain implantation of the fertilised egg and so infertility results. Acupuncture can again be used to correct this imbalance by nourishing the Blood. Sometimes it is the emotions that get in the way of successful fertilisation of the embryo, the person may be very stressed in their personal life or at work and this will prevent them from getting pregnant. This is known as Liver Qi stagnation, and can be very successfully treated with acupuncture.
Acupuncture Assisted IVF
Acupuncture is very effective at improving IVF success rates. Studies have shown that using a particular protocol (combination of points) just prior to and just after embryo implantation the uterus can be prepared to receive the fertilised egg. I usually recommend seeing the acupuncturist for several weeks prior to this procedure in order to improve the outcome further.
A few years ago it was very rare for an acupuncturist to treat infertility in a man. However it is now commonplace since the benefits of acupuncture have been established. Studies have shown that sperm motility and quantity are improved with treatment. Some of the previously mentioned imbalances can affect the male reproductive system. For instance Kidney Yang Deficiency reduces sperm production and Blood Deficiency results in poorly nourished sperm.
Acupuncture is of great value for those seeking to improve their fertility, whether male or female. IVF is greatly helped as well. Please ensure that you see a fully qualified acupuncturist, check their credentials before agreeing to treatment.
Mark Ackland Lic Ac MBAcC
Swindon (UK) based acupuncturist
More by this Author
INTRODUCTION Sciatica is one of those conditions that is very difficult to ignore when it occurs, it can be very painful. Typical symptoms include shooting pain, aching or tingling down either the back, front or side...