Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine, originated in China. It involves inserting fine needles through the skin at specific sites in the body for therapeutic or preventive purposes. This treatment method, combined with others, is practiced worldwide as an option for various medical conditions, including infertility.
Acupuncture is worth trying by women struggling with infertility. It can be used to treat any type of fertility disorder. For example, the beneficial effect of Chinese medicine on primary dysmenorrhoea, a painful condition, is reported in controlled trials.
Acupuncture may benefit fertility by encouraging the release of beta-endorphins in the nerve cells, regulating fertility hormones, and reducing the hormonal swings caused by stress. In addition, the data suggest that stimulation of acupuncture points could influence some genetic expression in the brain, thereby normalizing the secretion of hormones, such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone, luteinizing hormone, and estradiol.
In addition, acupuncture can help supply the ovaries with oxygenated blood and enhance the development of ovarian follicles. Thus, this kind of therapy increases the blood flow to the uterus, improves the endometrial wall thickness, and consequently, embryo implantation chances. Therefore acupuncture may affect the fertilization outcome in women undergoing infertility treatment.
There was some evidence that this type of alternative medicine improves menstruation and ovulation in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This procedure can reduce ovarian cysts, stimulate ovulation, and regulate the menstrual cycle in women with PCOS. The efficacy is based on lowering sympathetic nerve activity and balancing hormone levels. In addition, it may help avoid the development of secondary effects of PCOS, such as obesity and anorexia.
Acupuncture may also be helpful in the treatment of female infertility caused by inflammatory obstruction of the fallopian tubes.
This therapy has its application in conditions associated with pregnancy. For example, in childbirth, acupuncture analgesia helps alleviate labor pain and significantly reduces delivery duration. Inserting needles will stimulate the body to release prostaglandins which soften and prepare the uterus for labor. In addition, this procedure encourages milk production after childbirth by elevating the blood prolactin levels in women with insufficient milk secretion. Researchers have also estimated the efficacy of acupuncture for pregnancy-related depression.
The impact of acupuncture on male fertility is still not fully discovered. But one small study has proved the influence of this procedure on decreasing scrotal temperature.
Acupuncture fertility points
Many important fertility points are situated on the abdomen, around and under the navel.
In the midline, going the navel down to the pubic bone, stay crucial points that treat the uterus, kidney, and urinary bladder (the Ren channel, also called the Conception channel). Treating this area is essential for female and male fertility. It helps strengthen the uterus, regulate the menstrual cycle and hormones, and build our body’s reserve tank. Avoid stimulation of these points during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
Off to either side of previous points are other specific areas called Zi Gong, or “Palace of Child”. Their primary role is to improve blood flow to the ovaries and the function of the fallopian tubes. Avoid stimulation of these points during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
The other important part of the body is the sternum, which corresponds to the heart and lungs. Calming the heart is critical to cope with the stress that can interfere with fertilization success.
The liver acupuncture point can help us to improve the blood supply of the reproductive organs. It is located in the webbing between the first and second toes. This site regulates the menstrual cycle, benefits the ovaries and uterus, builds the blood, and additionally is robust against headaches, anxiety, and sleeping disorders.
A lot of fertility points are situated on the legs. For example, the kidney point, also called the “Beautiful baby” point, is located in the lower part of the inner leg above the ankle bone. It is vital for the whole reproductive system.
The other necessary point is between the eyebrows and is called Yin Tang, also known as the Third Eye point. It is superior at developing a nice calming effect, especially when coupled with the ear points called Shen Men (Spirit Gate). An uplifting effect has the Crown Chakra, situated at the very top of the head.
Acupuncture points may vary depending on the individual situation and what you would like to focus on.
Acupuncture is usually safe. It produces few or no side effects while providing the same function as the drugs do. However, this treatment method is appropriate not for everyone. The patient has a higher risk of complications when he or she has a bleeding disorder or takes blood thinners. Moreover, stimulation of some body points may contribute to uterus contractions; that’s why the doctor must be careful while performing acupuncture by a pregnant woman.
The needles used for treatment must be made from stainless steel, individually packaged, single-use, and sterile. A patient may feel them, but the pain shouldn’t occur. The procedure is relaxing, but during the first visit, dizziness or nausea may appear.
The most essential is to find a certified and licensed therapist with experience in infertility treatment. Before the procedure, the doctor has to discuss a patient’s complete medical history. There will be a lot of questions even unrelated to fertility. If a patient is undergoing any type of assisted reproductive technology, acupuncture visits should be coordinated.
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