When you’re trying to get and/or stay pregnant and, month after month, it’s not happening, you’ll try anything. One of the more popular options is acupuncture for fertility. While there isn’t a downside to having the ancient Chinese treatment, it can be expensive and time consuming, so it’s worth asking the question – does acupuncture for fertility actually work? To take a deeper dive into the question we spoke to Gudrun Snyder, the founder of Moon Rabbit Acupuncture, to help clarify the benefits, the proof and how acupuncture may help optimize your success at a healthy pregnancy.
Gudrun Snyder: Women who are trying to conceive know that it is important to eat well, develop proper sleeping habits, and more recently, discovering the power of acupuncture. For thousands of years Eastern Medicine has helped couples enhance their fertility and reproductive health. Despite the fact that acupuncture is rooted in traditional ancient forms of healing, it can actually help not only those who are trying naturally but also those who may be undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). There are some fertility clinics that even offer acupuncture in conjunction with their treatments!
Momtastic: But, is there any actual data to prove that it works?
Gudrun Snyder: Research has shown that acupuncture balances hormones and may even offset the negative effect of stress on reproductive health. In a 2002 study of 160 women undergoing IVF, those who added acupuncture to their treatments had increased pregnancy success. Additionally, a review of 1,231 IVF patients suggests that the benefits may be even greater if women combine Chinese herbs with acupuncture in the months leading up to IVF.
Momtastic: What is it specifically about acupuncture that can help women to conceive?
Gudrun Snyder: Acupuncture not only supports your body’s self-healing mechanisms, but also helps improve hormone imbalances, blood circulation, immunity and the activity of neurotransmitters, which are the biochemical messenger system of our body.
Getting pregnant should be simple, but actually it’s an intricate process that involves a complex timed sequence of events in order to be successful. Thus, establishing balance with acupuncture can give you a huge boost towards accomplishing the goal of a healthy pregnancy.
- To increase blood supply to the lower abdominal region, including the ovaries and uterus to support healthy egg development and improve the quality of uterine lining for successful implantation.
- Reduce inflammation, thereby increasing the likelihood of a successful chain of events that will lead to pregnancy.
- Regulate menstrual cycles.
- Reduce uterine spasms that may be involved in early pregnancy loss.
Momtastic: How often and for how long should women be prepared to do acupuncture for it to have an effect on improving their fertility?
Gudrun Snyder: At Moon Rabbit, we see both women and men for fertility acupuncture. Ideally we like to see you 3-6 months before you would like to conceive. That said, don’t let that stop you from coming in if you are already trying. It’s better that you start now. We usually recommend at least once a week initially and then timed around your cycle or any fertility treatments.
The first time you meet with your acupuncturist you will chat about your medical history, diet and lifestyle. They may look at your tongue and take your pulses. Then you will receive acupuncture treatment for approximately 20-25 minutes with a few needles. The needles are painless and many people often go to sleep.
It’s important to note that if you have a more serious disorder or structural issues that may be preventing you from getting pregnant, that acupuncture for fertility should not be used on its own and you should keep your Western physician apprised of any treatments, medications, diets and supplements that you start.
Wherever you are in your fertility journey, acupuncture is a safe, effective way to support you on your journey to reproductive health and vitality.