Specializing in Fertility, Pregnancy, Weight Loss and Spinal Injuries
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Acupuncture for infertility is a delicate and sensitive subject, and one I have had the privilege to have some experience in. I can say, definitively, that there has been no more rewarding experience in my private practice, and in my career as an acupuncturist, than to help couples bring new life into this world. The smile that crosses the face of expecting parents that once felt they would never have children is perhaps the most joyful I have seen, second perhaps only to that day when they are first introduced to their child.
Acupuncture has been proven in numerous independent clinical trials and studies to increase the chances of conception by up to 60%. For instance The Journal of Sterility, Vol. 77, No.4, April 2002, published an article entitled, “Influence of Acupuncture on the Pregnancy Rate of Patients Who Undergo Assisted Reproduction Therapy”.
This study conducted by Dr. Wolfgang Paulus and colleagues at the Christian-Lauritzen-Institut in Ulm, Germany, found that the success rate of women who had undergone acupuncture was over 50% higher than those who had not. He wrote;
The analysis shows that the pregnancy rate for the acupuncture group is considerably higher than for the control group (42.5% versus 26.3%)
"Acupuncture seems to be a useful tool for improving pregnancy rate after assisted reproductive techniques”
So how does Acupuncture for infertility work?
From a western medical perspective infertility is seen as a simple physical matter. It may be a result of poor sperm quality or count in the male, or a result of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, commonly known as PCOS or for those with high FSH levels in women. This can be quite frustrating for those who do not have any physical problems, yet still find it difficult to conceive.
Acupuncture for infertility is different is its approach. While there may, or may not be problems with the underlying structure of the reproductive mechanism, the Acupuncturists goal is to uncover the underlying pattern of disharmony that is preventing conception. This can be both physical and emotional in nature, as the Chinese Medical system encompasses both.
An acupuncturist must assess the whole of a person, not just analyze a specific problem and then administer a pre-determined treatment, as is done with western medicine. Each individual is different with different strength and weakness that must be accounted for.
A Sample Case Study –
For instance a woman being treated for infertility may be diagnosed with endometriosis and adhesions in the fallopian tubes. Her periods may be quite normal and regular, except for being rather scanty (lasting 3 days). She would probably also suffer from very pronounced abdominal distension and fullness. She may have panic attacks and experienced a feeling of oppression of the chest and palpitations.
From a Chinese Medical perspective this is a condition of stagnation of Qi (the energy used in Acupuncture) in the Liver channel and the Penetrating Vessel affecting the Heart. This may make little sense from a western view as neither the heart, nor the liver are involved directly in reproduction. However from a Chinese medical view, the whole body is an interconnected whole, that works on a balance and harmony.
The Liver, from a Chinese Medical point of view, is associated with the manufacture of blood. If it becomes stagnant then it functions poorly. Without adequate blood to line the uterus wall, (thus the scanty periods) and conception can’t take place. This also ties into the panic attacks as in the Chinese medical system the mind resides in our blood. If our blood is weak then our mind can wander and become subject to panic attacks.
When shock affects the Heart, but also the Kidneys: in women, this often causes stagnation of Qi in the Penetrating Vessel and the Liver channel. Rebellious Qi in the lower abdomen rises upwards to harass the Heart and the Mind causing, in her case, palpitations, a feeling of oppression of the chest and anxiety. The stagnation of Qi in the Penetrating Vessel in the lower abdomen caused the feeling of fullness and distension there. In this case, therefore, infertility was not due to a deficiency, but to stagnation of Qi in the Penetrating and Directing Vessels preventing conception. Treatment would be based on this.
A Second Case Study –
Another case may be totally different. For instance, A woman may have no abnormality in her hormone levels or fallopian tubes. However her periods may be late (from a 32- to a 44-day cycle), the menstrual blood bright-red but with dark clots and the periods painful. She may also fell cold during the period is liked to have a hot-water bottle on her abdomen.
She may also suffer from lower backache, loose stools and general exhaustion. Her memory may poor and she could dream a lot every night.
At first observation, all her symptoms would seem to point to Spleen- and Kidney-Yang deficiency. Whilst there certainly was a Spleen-Yang deficiency (tiredness, loose stools, Pale tongue and pulse Weak on the right side), there was not much Kidney-Yang deficiency.
The symptoms which would seem to point to Kidney-Yang deficiency are a late menstrual cycle, feeling cold during the period, infertility, backache and poor memory. However, on closer analysis, although there was some Kidney-Yang deficiency some of these symptoms could be explained differently. First of all, the backache started only after the fall and was therefore due to a structural rather than an energetic Kidney problem.
As for the other symptoms, they are also partially due to the Heart's influence on the Kidneys. Thus, Heart-Fire was blocked upwards, unable to communicate downwards with the Kidneys and Lower Burner which became cold. This was the cause of the infertility, delayed menstrual cycle, blood clots and cold feeling.
A number of studies have shown that acupuncture has had a proven effect in treating infertility on its own or in conjunction with IVF.
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%).
Also, a 2005 study conducted by Shanghai University in China found that acupuncture also helped treat male infertility. Of the men who participated, those who had acupuncture had an increased percentage of sperm in their semen; their sperm structure and morphology was also healthier than their counterparts who did not undergo acupuncture infertility treatment. You can read more about this in my article on Acupuncture and Male Infertility here.
A complete listing of my articles on Fertility and Pregnancy can be found below...
Acupuncture for Infertility - Understanding the Energy of Creation...
Acupuncture and Male Infertility - Scientific Studies Clearly Show Stronger, Healthier Sperm...
Acupuncture and the Male Biological Clock - The Facts you Need to Know.
Acupuncture Fertility Treatments in Dublin - Private and Effective Treatment, Scientifically Shown to Increase the Chances of Pregnancy
Acupuncture Fertility Treatments - Effective, Relaxing and Proven Results
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Infertility - The Traditional Solution to a Modern Dilemma
Acupuncure during Pregnancy - Using Ancient Wisdom to Nurture New Life
Finally, I'd like to leave you with the following story of one of my own pateints...
Testemonial - A Natural approach to successful conception:
I attended the Meridian Acupuncture Clinic for the first time in June 2008. My friend had recommended Paul having heard he had a number of children called after him due to his success in the fertility field.
Myself and my husband had been trying to conceive for almost 2 years. We had attended a fertility clinic in January 08 to ensure there were no physical reasons we had been unsuccessful.
I found the whole approach in this fertility clinic very businesslike with very little regard for the emotional needs of their patients. Luckily for us all parts of both of us appeared to be working effectively.
Despite this good news they were very adamant I should still start fertility treatment straight away. Being 36 they felt I didn’t have time on my hands. Being a pharmacist I did not want to subject my body unnecessarily to this type of treatment and opted to keep trying the natural way until September 08.
The first time I attended Paul he took a medical history, but unlike the fertility clinic was very interested in the personal tragedies in my life. My father had been very ill of the past 2 years and I had been very involved in his care both in a personal and professional level. These 2 years had been very stressful and very upsetting for me.
I really felt that this may have been affecting our ability to conceive. Paul listened to me intently, asked me a number of diagnostic questions, and asked me about my diet and my tongue. From this first encounter he felt my “Liver” (a TCM reference, not the physical organ - Paul) was blocked due to the stress of the previous 2 years. He also felt he could treat me. Blockage of the Liver is significant in cases of infertility in Chinese Medicine as the liver controls flow of blood to all the vital organs. Some of my symptoms were irregular periods, cold extremities, and occasional gastric problems. My first 6 treatments with Paul involved the treatment of this blockage and needles were placed in my legs, below my knees, my hands and my head.
I really enjoyed these weekly treatments although the needling does hurt sometimes (a sensation brief momentary sensation known as DeQi that indicates a blockage, an excellent confirmation of diagnosis – Paul). AT the start of a treatment we would discuss how I had been since the last time, if something came up and I needed to talk about it Paul would always sit and listen. I believe this is invaluable and a key part of the treatment process.
Time never appeared to be an issue. Other weeks would just involve the placing of the needles and then lying down in the quieted room for 30 minutes.
My periods became more regular and my GI problems improved and after 12 treatments I was pregnant. I have continued to attend Paul although now I attend every 2 weeks. I am now 13 weeks pregnant and been very well, no nausea. Although Paul has told me if that occurs he can treat that too! (Acupuncture is very successful in treating morning sickness – check out my article on the subject here– Paul).
I would recommend acupuncture for infertility; it is a holistic experience which I believe imperative for this type of condition. Paul is professional, enthusiastic and inspiring. You always come out of a treatment feeling enlightened, well and upbeat. For me this was the type of treatment I required and I would consider acupuncture as the way forward for all future ailments.
Louise Byrne, 36
If you are trying to conceive, have a history of miscarriage, or want to ensure the best possible health for both you and your child, then perhaps you should consider Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding Acupuncture for Infertility or wish to start a course of treatment then please feel free to contact me or make an appointment where we can discus any specific concerns or questions you may have.