Feeling stress about conceiving? Acupuncture is like a reset button for your system. Unlike drugs, it is not interventional. It doesn’t take over your body. It does help restore balance. And that may be just what you need to help you conceive. The Tao of Fertility tells you more.
Acupuncture, like everything else in Chinese medicine, is based on the observation of our natural environment. Our body is like a little universe. If we stimulate certain areas—what we call points, energy areas, or energy centers—we can also stimulate the inside of our body. This stimulation, in effect, can cause certain physiological changes in blood flow, nerve impulses, healing, and immunological responses, to name a few.
When we insert very fine, stainless steel, surgical-grade, disposable, sterilized needles at these points, your body naturally reacts. Imagine what it would say if it could talk to you: “Hey! I’m here—listen to me. Your arm is injured, or your uterus is weak, or your ovaries are not ovulating well. Your circulation is weak in this whole area, you are not secreting hormones properly, and your body is not reacting or is not sensitive to your hormone secretions. Your egg quality is poor.” So much response to little needles!
Of course, knowing where to put the needles is all-important. Where did this knowledge come from? The simple answer is through centuries of trial and error. Countless acupuncture doctors before today figured out that when you stimulate a certain point, you get a certain response that will be good for certain conditions in that area.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
What is the physiological explanation? We do know that acupuncture facilitates the release of endogenous opiates like endorphins. These endorphins stimulate the body’s self-regulatory mechanism—the biological chemicals that help our body to heal and rejuvenate. But since these endorphins are also part of the endocrine system, they help to improve serotonin secretion in the brain, a kind of feel-good mood hormone that helps us feel better.
One of the most common acupuncture points is at the very top of the head. It’s the place where all the energies of our body converge. Needless to say, it is an extremely powerful point used for many purposes, including fertility.
How does acupuncture help in treating infertility? It improves blood flow to the uterus and the reproductive system. This has been shown to help primarily with the implantation of embryos, especially during in vitro fertilization (IVF). It also raises levels of stress-coping hormones such as cortisol and prolactin when it is applied just before ovulation. By decreasing the body’s stress response, we increase the chance of fertilization and implantation.
But the number-one goal of acupuncture in fertility treatments is the regulation of menstruation and ovulation. That includes beginning and ending your period in a timely and correct manner and making sure your flow is smooth and unhindered, without large clots and without excessive cramps. Acupuncture also helps to strengthen your ovulatory functions and is very good in improving blood flow and building uterine lining quality. And, as previously noted, we have found that acupuncture treatments can be helpful in encouraging implantation of the embryo, which is especially important for women using assisted reproductive techniques.
In the last few years, published research studies have shown significant increases in IVF pregnancy rates with the use of acupuncture treatments conjunctively. In fact, I have designed a protocol for the use of acupuncture during IVF that has yielded a significantly better pregnancy rate in a pilot study.
Benefits of Acupuncture
In summary, acupuncture is very good for fertility and for your general health. It resets your circadian clock, reduces stress, helps you release endorphins, and adjusts your endocrine system. It also gets rid of underlying inflammation and solicits immunological balance. Best of all, acupuncture has minimal side effects, and in a skilled hand, is virtually pain-free.
Our science is still too primitive to fully understand how acupuncture works. In a future century, people will look back at today’s science and see that what we know is not that far removed from the early knowledge of the tribesmen. You could say that we are only now just beginning to understand how the human body works.
This excerpt from The Tao of Fertility. Copyright 2008, HarperCollins Publishers.