An Acupuncturist’s Approach To Unexplained Infertility & How Acupuncture Can Help
Being diagnosed with unexplained infertility can be one of the most frustrating diagnoses a woman can receive. Preparing to bring new life into the world can be an overwhelming decision as it is, but to be told it may not happen for you can be devastating. It is one of those times you feel like you are the only one in the world. Unfortunately, you are not alone. Research says 1 in 6 couples, are going to hear these words in their lifetime. That is about 16% of couples, which has doubled since the 1980’s (1).
Fortunately, we live in a time where technology is rapidly advancing. There is testing for almost every ailment imaginable, including many tests for men and women to check on their reproductive health. The downside is that even though we have modern tools, unexplained infertility still exists.
First, let’s touch on the definition of infertility: “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse” (2). For women under 35, the definition remains. However for women over 35, 12 months of actively trying turns into 6 months. This can be an issue, as some doctors will not send their patients for testing until that 12-month period is over. There are some who will, especially those who specialize in fertility, hormones or reproductive health.
I’ve been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, what now?
So, where do you start if you are one of the many women who are unsure where to go once they’ve gotten a diagnosis of unexplained infertility? Many of us go down the rabbit hole that is Google, and get lost in a sea of information that may or may not apply to you. While it is important to research, trying a more gentle approach with a health care practitioner to help guide you can be less stressful and easier to understand. Some choose to seek complimentary and traditional treatments such as acupuncture to help treat fertility issues.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture & In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that can help to manage a variety of conditions including fertility in women and men. An acupuncturist inserts very thin, small needles into specific points of the body to stimulate blood flow to that area.
When used as treatment for infertility, acupuncture can help by:
– boosting blood flow to reproductive organs
– improving quality of egg and sperm count
– balancing hormones
– relieving stress
In most clinics across Canada, the US and other forward thinking countries, Acupuncture is an integral part of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Sadly, that is not the case in Nova Scotia. However, just because it is not included in an IVF treatment plan, does not mean you cannot have it. In an article published by CBC news, it was said “Women were randomly assigned to receive IVF alone, IVF with acupuncture within a day of embryo implantation, or IVF plus sham acupuncture, in which needles were placed too shallowly or in spots not thought to matter. Individually, only three of the studies found acupuncture beneficial, three found a trend toward benefit and one found no benefit. When results of these smaller studies were pooled, researchers found the odds of conceiving went up about 65 per cent for women given acupuncture.” (3).
While there are still ongoing studies, it is difficult to deny the results of numerous studies that have already been conducted. As far as beginning the journey after a diagnosis, scheduling an acupuncture appointment is a wonderful and simplified place to start.
What to expect during an acupuncture appointment
At your acupuncture appointment, you will be taught how Eastern and Western medicine work together to benefit your body as I believe in a combined approach. We will discuss your health history and answer any questions you may have. We will talk about nutrition, lifestyle, stressors and as always, there will be home care to take away form your session so we know you are on track in the most stress free, manageable way possible.
More often than not, we will work with a Naturopathic doctor to ensure we’re targeting your internal health as optimally as possible, short term and long term. I have loved waking up to my patient’s success stories and am honoured to be a part of their journeys. My goal as a practitioner is to make any life changes or adjustments as simple and empowering as possible. There has been hope for many women, and there can be hope for you, too.