Acupuncture has been used to treat problems of fertility in both males and females for centuries throughout Asia. However, over more recent decades, acupuncture for fertility has become increasingly popular in the West as a stand-alone treatment as well as in conjunction with mainstream fertility treatments offered at fertility clinics.
When it comes to female infertility, acupuncture is thought to be able to assist in some ways:
- To improve the circulation of blood in the reproductive organs
- To help nourish the ovaries and uterus with oxygenated blood
- To help balance hormone levels
- To stimulate hormone production
- To help break down the formation of cysts and fibroids
- To help decrease anxiety and stress levels
According to acupuncture theory, the therapy works by influencing the movement of blood, fluids and Qi, the driving force behind bodily functions, through the stimulation of specific points (acupuncture or acupoints) located along channel pathways, known as the meridian system.
During an acupuncture treatment, the acupuncturist will arrive at a diagnosis based on an amalgamation of both Western pathology and Chinese medical theory and choose the acupoints accordingly. Therefore, not all fertility cases will be treated with the same points. The combination in which the acupoints are used is also crucial.
If you are thinking of having acupuncture treatment for infertility, then it is important you seek out an experienced practitioner who is fully qualified in Acupuncture and who also specializes in fertility issues.
Acupuncture For Fertility: Theory
There are several acupoints that are commonly used in the treatment of female infertility. Some of the points have a strong ability to stimulate the blood flow to the uterus and reproductive organs, while others are said to be able to help with hormonal balancing.
According to Chinese medical theory, when it comes to fertility, the organs of primary importance are the Liver, Kidneys and the Spleen. Therefore, it is common for an acupuncturist to select points of these channels, though some points of other channels are also of benefit.
The reason for the importance of these three organs, in particular, is due to the part in which these three organs play in the reproduction process.
Chinese medical theory states that the reproductive organs pertain strongly to the element of water, which is associated with the organs of the kidneys and bladder. Blood movement and nourishment are largely governed by the actions of the liver and spleen organs. According to the theory, the spleen organ also has a strong involvement in the regulation of damp and helping to resolve damp accumulation, which can be a contributing factor to growths such as fibroids and cysts.
Common Acupuncture Fertility Points
There are numerous points used in acupuncture to treat infertility issues. Here we will discuss some of the most common points used to treat infertility.
When talking about the locations of acupoints, it is important to note that in Chinese medicine, a measurement called a Cun is used to locate the points. A Cun is the width of a person’s thumb as measured from the base of the nail. The reason for the use of the Cun measurement is that everyone’s body is different and sizes and shapes can vary tremendously. Therefore, when measuring to locate the points on a patient, the acupuncturist will use the Cun measurement of the patient to have an accurate measurement for that patient.
Massaging some of the acupuncture points may be helpful for fertility. However, it is important to note that some of the acupuncture points have various cautions for their use, are forbidden to use during certain stages of pregnancy and so forth. Therefore, a person should always ask a qualified acupuncturist which points will be best for them specifically before trying to apply self-acupressure.
Sp-6 (Spleen 6)
Location: Sp-6 is located about four finger breadths above the mid-point of the medial ankle bone (medial malleolus), and one cun back from the medial border of the tibia.
Due to it’s highly nourishing and regulating functions, Sp-6 is a very commonly used point in acupuncture for a wide range of conditions. However, Sp-6 also has a direct nourishing effect on the three primary organs related to fertility, the Spleen, Kidneys and Liver.
It is said to assist with regulating and moving the liver blood, which can help if there is a tendency towards blood stagnation. This point can also help to regulate the menstrual cycle in cases of late or irregular periods or amenorrhea (absence of periods).
CV-3 (also known as Ren-3)
Location: On the midline of the lower abdomen, one cun above the superior border of the symphysis pubis bone.
CV-3 is a useful point to bring a period if the woman is not having a menstrual cycle. Working to regulate the menstrual cycle is of primary importance when trying to conceive if there is irregularity or absence.
CV-4 (also known as Ren-4)
Location: On the midline of the abdomen, one cun directly above CV-3.
CV-4 is an especially important point for fertility as it is said to have a strongly nourishing effect on the energetics of the kidneys and blood.
According to Chinese medical theory, the deficiency of the energetics of the kidneys (particularly, deficiency of kidney yin) accounts for around 55% of female infertility cases. Kidney yin deficiency is often a primary cause of female infertility when the conventional diagnosis is “unexplained infertility”, from the perspective of an acupuncturist.
CV-4 also has a nourishing effect on the liver and spleen channels, is used to regulate the menstrual cycle, can help with painful periods and also have a calming effect on the patient.
CV-7 (also knows as Ren-7)
Location: CV-7 is located on the midline of the abdomen; one cun below the umbilicus (belly button).
This point is commonly used during fertility treatments due to its nourishing and controlling effect on the uterus. CV-7 can help to nourish blood and essence, assist with scanty periods and help to nourish the kidney organs.
Location: Du-4 is located on the midline of the back, at the lower border of the spinous process of L-2.
More commonly used in cases of male infertility, Du-4 can also be very helpful for females who present with a deficiency of both the yin and yang aspects of the kidneys as this point has a strong effect on nourishing these energetics. Du-4 is also said to have an effect on the endocrine system, therefore, can be helpful in regulating the hormones.
Bl-23 (Bladder 23)
Location: BI-23 is located on the lower back, 1.5 Cun lateral to the lower border of the spinous process of L-2.
Another point commonly used for a variety of conditions, Bl-23 is often selected during fertility treatments due to its strong nourishing effects on the kidneys.
Bl-23 can also be used for lower lumbar pain and tinnitus, where the tinnitus is related to a deficiency of the kidneys.
Location: At the midpoint between the eyebrows.
Yin Tang is a point often used during fertility treatment due to it’s calming effects on the mind, which help to alleviate stress. Due to its location, Yin Tang is said to be able to stimulate the pituitary gland, which plays an important role in the production of various hormones necessary for female fertility.
Ki-8 (Kidney 8)
Location: Ki-8 is located two Cun above Ki-3, 0.5 Cun anterior to Ki-7 and posterior to the medial border of the tibia.
When there are problems with the functioning of the ovaries, then Ki-8 may be a point selected by the acupuncturist due to its nourishing effects upon the ovaries. Issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a lack of egg production within the ovaries may be treated with Ki-8.
Ki-8 is also said to be able to adjust the blood in the uterus is this is needed.
Gb-26 (Gall Bladder 26)
Location: On the mid-axillary line (torso midline), level with the umbilicus (belly button).
Gb-26 is a very good point for various gynecological issues such as irregular periods or damp-heat accumulation in the uterus. Therefore, Gb-26 is a useful point for fertility if the woman is having this kind of issues, which may be hindering fertility.
Furthermore, Gb-26 is a useful point for fertility due to its ability to initiate movement in the kidneys.