Acupuncture has been around for quite a while now in the West, in fact, it has been practiced in countries like the United Kingdom, France and America for almost a century.
This intriguing form of alternative medicine although having been met with much skepticism in the early days is steadily growing in popularity. What’s more, various studies have also found acupuncture to be effective for a variety of symptoms, including infertility.
Acupuncture and the Treatment of Infertility
Infertility issues are certainly something that worries many would-be Mum’s when they are trying to conceive. The added stress and pressure on women to get pregnant can certainly make things harder for women to fall pregnant naturally.
With the increased press coverage of acupuncture being used for fertility in conjunction with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and Intrauterine insemination (IUI) techniques has gotten many women interested to know more about how acupuncture may be able to help.
When it comes to acupuncture assistance in the process of IVF treatment, many women look to start the acupuncture at the same time or just before they start their IVF cycle. However, acupuncturists say it is helpful to have a course of treatment for at least a few months before beginning the IVF treatment. This is to allow time for the acupuncture to prepare the body before the woman begins the IVF treatment.
Once the procedure begins, women are usually first given drugs such as the buserelin, nafarelin or leuprolide to cause a suppressive action on the ovaries. This suppresses the function of the ovaries and encourages the growth of multiple eggs during the IVF process. During this phase, the acupuncturist works to support the drugs, assist with the suppression process and also work on any side effects that the woman may be experiencing from the drugs.
The second phase involves a series of FSH injections which help to stimulate the growth of the follicles. During this period, the acupuncturist also works to nourish the ovaries and womb to assist with the stimulation of the follicles. By increasing blood flow in the pelvic area, the acupuncturist may be able to help with sufficient nourishment.
The next acupuncture session will be before egg collection. At this stage, the practitioner will use points that are said to have a ripening effect on the eggs and to prepare them for collection.
Often there can be anxiety for the patient particularly at this stage and before the embryo transfer. Therefore, the practitioner also works to have a calming effect on the woman to help cope with the stress levels.
Once the eggs have been collected the doctors in the fertility clinic will mix the sperm with one of the eggs in a dish to bring about fertilization. Once fertilized embryo is ready for transfer, the woman will need to have one acupuncture treatment before and after the implantation. This is a crucial phase and is said to increase the chances of fertility considerably.
The pre-embryo transfer treatment helps to prepare the woman to receive the embryo by opening up the cervix. Once the embryo has been transferred the post-embryo acupuncture treatment is needed to close the uterus, calm the patient and nourish the uterus with blood. Acupuncturists say that this phase also helps to bring about a lifting and holding effect to give the best chances of the embryo transfer being successful.
There are several schools training people to become acupuncturists, all of which have their unique approach to teaching the subject and to the practice. The International College of Oriental Medicine offers a comprehensive course and also runs post-graduate courses in fertility acupuncture.
Treating patients with fertility issues is a specialist treatment, so practitioners need to make sure they are well versed in the application of the specific techniques used to help the patient become pregnant. Practitioners also need a detailed knowledge of the etiology of fertility to get a clear picture of how they can assist the client best.