Acupuncture for Fertility

Many women are told that they have what is referred to as "unexplained infertility". Chinese diagnosis can often reveal imbalances in the internal climate that inhibit conception and treatment can often correct these, resulting in a natural conception. We offer treatment for both men and women.
Acupuncture is a tremendous support for couples choosing assisted conception, as many recent studies have proven. It is an excellent way to help to cope with the often stressful procedures, and to help balance any side effects of the drug therapy. Acupuncture can greatly improve the chances for a successful conception.

We treat all aspects of gynaecological disharmony, from early teens through to menopause.

Conceiving a baby is something that many of us take for granted, yet as a couple, we have on average, only about a 20% chance of conceiving each month. The figure may surprise those who are able to have children easily. It will not surprise the 1 in 6 couples who find they do not conceive easily. About 85-90% of couples with normal fertility conceive within the first year of trying, 95% within 2 years. So if you have been trying unsuccessfully for just a few months, there is probably no need to worry.

Why can it be difficult to become pregnant?

In order for conception to occur several things need to happen. The woman must be ovulating (releasing a healthy egg from her ovary) each month. The egg must travel into her fallopian tube to meet and be fertilised by the healthy sperm which have been ejaculated into the woman’s vagina and travelled up through her womb in to the tube. Then the fertilised egg must travel down to the womb and attach itself to one of the walls. Difficulties can arise at any stage in the process. There may be problems with the quality of the egg or the sperm, or a blockage in either the man or woman’s reproductive tract which can prevent a pregnancy occurring. Problems arise equally in men and women and for some, no medical explanation can be found.

Acupuncture for fertility is an excellent way to help enhance your diagnosis, to understand more fully the reasons why you are having difficulty conceiving. Gynaecology is one of the best understood aspects of Chinese medicine; it has been studied and practiced for thousands of years. The Chinese diagnosis offers a sophisticated understanding of the internal climate of the gynaecological organs as well as offering an excellent ability to diagnose how the other systems of the body are behaving and whether that may be having a detrimental impact on the reproductive system. In Chinese medicine all systems are related and nothing is discounted as belonging to 'another department'. Acupuncture is always ultimately about balance. When one aspect of the whole system is in distress then it can easily have a knock on effect elsewhere. The real benefit to a Chinese diagnosis is to help understand the balance within the whole.

Acupuncture for fertility will help to regulate the menstrual cycle and to smooth out any untoward symptoms that may accompany the period such as PMT, scanty or excessive bleeds, irregular cycles, mid cycle or intramenstrual bleeds, headaches, cramping, back ache, etc. etc. Regulating the function of the menstruation will help to enhance the receptivity of the uterus, to enhance the quality of the ovum (eggs waiting to ovulate) and it will definitely make you feel better! Acupuncture is an excellent support for women who have endometriosis, polycystic ovaries PCOS and fibroids. For more information see Womens Health.

Stresses and Strains

It is the body's natural instinct to conceive. Next to the need for water and for food and shelter, conception is one of our foremost survival instincts. If the body does not believe that it has the where-with-all to sustain a full term pregnancy, it will not conceive. Conception will occur when there is enough balance between the emotional, hormonal and physical selves. This is the great thing that acupuncture has to offer; that to bring balance on all levels reduces stress. When the body and mind are less stressed there is much greater opportunity to turn the energies toward conception. This applies to both natural and assisted conception.

Fertility

Unexplained infertility is the phrase used when a couple have had the standard investigations, usually including blood tests, sperm analysis, and possibly an ultrasound examination of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries (there may also be a salpinhysteroscopy, when dye is injected through the fallopian tubes to ensure that they are clear); if all these tests results are normal the diagnosis is 'unexplained'.

Secondary infertility is when couples have difficulty conceiving again after a successful first pregnancy. Infertility affects approximately 15% of the population and secondary infertility approximately 5%. Secondary infertility can be defined as infertility in a couple who have already had at least one pregnancy between them, whether that is a pregnancy resulting in the birth of a baby or a pregnancy that has miscarried, an ectopic pregnancy, or a pregnancy that has been terminated.

Infertility is recognized as a significant illness with a significant impact on the wellbeing of both men and women. Secondary infertility is just as debilitating, even when the couple already has between them a healthy child or children.




Natural Conception

Around half of the couples we see at the clinic are looking to conceive naturally. Some have started trying relatively recently and others may have already explored other options. Some patients are looking to conceive their first child, while others may be having difficulties having subsequent children. For female patients, the Chinese medicine approach will take a detailed look at the menstrual cycle in order to identify where improvements can be made. In conjunction with blood tests, scan results or Western diagnosis this leads us to a treatment plan. Similarly for men, the overall health is looked at to see what impact it is having on the quality of the sperm production.

Our Natural Fertility Acupuncture Programme
3-6 Month Preconception Care
Couples wishing to conceive naturally are recommended to have acupuncture for a 3-6 month period.

If both partners adopt a preconceptual healthcare programme including fertility acupuncture for at least 3-4 months prior to conception, it is possible to have an impact on the health of both the egg and sperm and reproductive outcomes.

How Acupuncture can Enhance Fertility?

• Improves sperm parameters
• Improves pregnancy rates of natural conception and IVF treatment
• Regulates menstrual cycles
• Regulate hormones by reducing stress
• Reduces miscarriages
• Lessens uterine contractions after embryo transfer
• Improves blood flow to ovaries and uterus
• Improves ovarian function; encourages production of follicles; enhances their quality
• Improves thickness of uterine wall lining
• Aids relaxation
• Lessens side effects of fertility medication
• Enhances immune system



Assisted conception
• Every year in Great Britain 27,000 couples receive infertility treatment; 1 in 6 is successful. Infertility now affects 1 in 6 couples, and the number seeking help has risen by 55% in the last 5 years.
• 1 in 80 children born today were conceived as a result of IVF.
• IVF is approximately 30% successful.

Assisted conception may include :

IUI: intrauterine insemination
IVF: in vitro fertilisation
ICSI: intracytoplasmic sperm injection
GIFT: gamete intrafallopian transfer
ZIFT: zygote intrafallopian transfer
PESA: percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration
ET: embryo transfer
TESE: testicular sperm extraction
SUZI: subzonal sperm injection
DI: donor insemination
FERC: frozen embryo replacement cycle
PGD: preimplantation genetic diagnosis
PGS: preimplantation genetic screening


Acupuncture support during any kind of assisted treatment can be very beneficial, on both the physical level and the emotional level. Assisted treatment can be very stressful, which in itself can inhibit a successful outcome. Acupuncture works on many levels, helping to calm the whole system and creating a much more receptive space for conception. It greatly increases blood flow to the uterus and it has a well understood neurological effect, calming to the nervous system. It is also understood to greatly relax uterine muscles which has a beneficial effect during any transfer treatment.

Some assisted conception protocols may involve some kind of hormonal drug therapy, used to control the body's hormone levels to try and enhance conception. Some women may find the hormone therapy can impact on their well being with side affects that may make them feel uncomfortable. Acupuncture is excellent for helping the system to acclimatise to the drug therapy, in many ways helping women to feel more comfortable during their assisted cycles.

Many couples find the whole process of an assisted conception quite stressful. There may be considerable running around, back and forth from their fertility unit for various tests and scans throughout the procedure, which can take up to 6 weeks. Acupuncture during this time can be very calming, many women comment on how well it helps them to cope with the strains of keeping up the treatment.

It is recommended that both partners consider the benefits of acupuncture support in the lead up to an assisted protocol, to enhance the health of the sperm and eggs, and to promote the most receptive environment for conception.




Acupuncture and IVF




Acupuncture has been shown to increase chances of success with IVF by up to 65%.


Acupuncture can help:
• Improve gamete quality
• Improve embryo quality
• Improve quality of endometrium
• Reduce stress of participants
• Reduce unwanted effects of drugs
• Regulate hormones
• Reduce chance of miscarriage
• Strengthen immune system


Our Acupuncture and IVF Programme
Acupuncture Before IVF
Fertility acupuncture, for at least 3-4 months prior to IVF is recommended to prepare the body for treatment and to ensure that both partners are in their optimum state of health emotionally and physically.

During this time, it is possible to have an impact on the health of both the egg and improve the quality of the sperm.

Even a six week fertility acupuncture programme prior to commencing IVF or fertility treatment is beneficial.

Acupuncture During IVF
There are varying fertility protocols with different timeframes. We recommend weekly acupuncture for the women from the first day of medication through to embryo transfer.

Acupuncture Before Egg Collection
We recommend a single fertility acupuncture treatment for the male prior to egg collection to relieve anxiety.

Where there is male factor infertility, a fertility acupuncture programme is recommended for the male to optimise sperm quality, motility and count.

Acupuncture After Egg Collection
IVF patients are recommended to have an acupuncture treatment after egg collection, to reduce any local tissue trauma or bleeding, and help prepare a calm environment for the arrival of an embryo.

Acupuncture and Embryo Transfer (or Frozen Embryo Transfer)
We recommend a fertility acupuncture before embryo transfer and acupuncture after embryo transfer to improve pregnancy rates.

This protocol is the same for frozen embryo transfers (FET).

Acupuncture and embryo transfer research trials shows that fertility acupuncture before embryo transfer and acupuncture after embryo transfer may improve pregnancy rates by up to 65%.

Acupuncture during this time is highly recommended by many fertility clinics worldwide and some clinics incorporate acupuncture as part of their IVF treatments.

Acupuncture and Implantation
We recommend two fertility acupuncture treatments during the two week wait period before you take a pregnancy test. The first treatment is to support implantation.

Implantation time can vary depending on when the embryos were transferred. It is usually about 2-3 days after a day 3 embryo transfer, and the day of or the day after a day 5 embryo transfer.

Acupuncture Before Your Pregnancy Test
The second treatment during the two week wait is to support you emotionally, to ease anxiety and promote relaxation.

If you have a positive pregnancy test...
We recommend weekly acupuncture treatment during the first trimester, up to week 12/13 as there is a higher risk of miscarriage in IVF induced pregnancies.

The treatments are gentle and supportive and help promote a healthy pregnancy. We offer acupuncture during our pregnancy programme to support all stages of pregnancy.

Read more about Pregnancy Acupuncture.




Testimonial for Fertility treatment

My husband and I had been trying to conceive for over 2 years with no success, we had also had 2 IUI treatments with no success. IVF was a very daunting prospect and I felt that I needed all the help I could get.

I had read of the success of acupuncture in IVF and thought that I had nothing to lose. I had never had acupuncture before or know anyone who had, therefore I went into the treatment with an open mind.

The first time I met with Anita I was at instant ease. Her gentle and caring manner helped me to relax and feel cared for.

I had a couple of treatments before I began my injections (I was on the long protocol), and then had weekly sessions. At the start of each session we took some time to discuss how I had been since the last session and any new symptoms I was experiencing. My symptoms from the drug therapies were not extreme compared to some stories you hear, but each week Anita tailored my treatment to help me carry on.

After each treatment I always felt totally relaxed and ready to take on whatever the week ahead threw at me. The sessions provided me with a sanctuary. As importantly they provided me with the TLC I felt I needed. The fertility clinic nurses try their best to comfort and support, but they are still under pressure to get through patients and sometimes aren’t able to spend the time with you that you need.

I saw Anita on the day of our embryo transfer. Surprisingly to me I was so nervous before we went to the clinic, I was very stressed and hadn’t slept well. The session that Anita performed on me that morning was amazing – I literally floated out! After transfer I had the follow up session which ensured I stayed that way. On arriving home that afternoon after everything was done I slept for hours.

The wait for results was not easy, and I was convinced that the treatment had not been a success.

I was and still am shocked by the fact that we got a positive result – I never believed that we would be lucky first time. I had to be the most negative IVF patient on the planet, but I know that the acupuncture definitely played a part- I wished I had tried it earlier.

I can highly recommend Anita to anyone facing the IVF ‘nightmare’, the cost is irrelevant to the benefits you receive and the end products speak for themselves.

With our heart felt thanks
CM


Here are video testimonials from couples who had difficulty conceiving and turned to acupuncture.




Staying Pregnant

Acupuncture can greatly improve a woman’s chance of staying pregnant. The state of the woman’s qi (energy), the quality of the sperm and ovum, and the subsequent embryo will determine whether or not the pregnancy goes to term, resulting in a live healthy baby.

Miscarriage can be a devastating experience, both physically and emotionally. Chinese medicine likens miscarriage to childbirth energetically. Miscarriage is always a loss, but an invisible loss to the rest of the world. The woman has lost a potential child, and her own potential as a mother.

Pre Implantation
10-25%pregnancies will miscarry, 75% are due to implantation failure.

Acupuncture treatment is given weekly from embryo transfer until week 12, much more frequently if symptoms arise.


The knots of not getting pregnant

There are many emotions of infertility.
anxiety, hope, frustration, hope, anger,
sadness, loneliness, hope, isolation,
depression, hope, fear, grief,
hope, fear, anxiety, grief,
inadequate,
anger, frustration, fear,
anxiety, hope…

Acupuncture can support you whether you decide you want to continue and try again, as well as if you decide that you no longer want to try and just want to get on with your life. Acupuncture will help you on all levels: body, mind and spirit and help you move forward.



Please look at the Men's Health page for information on Male sub-fertility/Infertility


The Bexley Acupuncture Clinic has undergone specialist acupuncture training in Obstetrics Acupuncture and Fertility Acupuncture endorsed by the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Physicians in London.