It has been suggested by recent medical research that up to 15%
of couples have difficulty conceiving and end up seeking specialist help for
fertility. It is a particularly difficult and emotional journey for many as
there are a number of tests that need to be carried out to identify potential
causes of the infertility. There are, in fact many reasons why a couple may be
finding it difficult to conceive. These can range from an irregular menstrual
cycle in the woman, history of miscarriage, lack of ovulation, polycystic
ovarian syndrome, or endometriosis to poor sperm production, or lack of motility
in the sperm amongst others. Occasionally there is no obvious cause for
infertility, and this is called non-specific infertility. Whatever the reason,
for a couple who desperately want to have a child, the whole area of infertility
can be stressful and highly charged.
Nevertheless, their General Practitioner must be their first port of call, who may then refer them to a specialist or consultant. Some of the tests can prove to be time consuming... either waiting for blood or sperm tests, to waiting for womb scans or in some cases surgery to remove cysts on ovaries or endometriosis. Sometimes couples wait up to a year for a medical answer to their infertility problem. For many their hope may lie in a process of assisted conception known as in vitro fertilisation or IVF. There are different procedures and protocols depending on the individual IVF unit or consultant. It may also depend upon the woman’s general health, age, and any previous pregnancies.
A recent study by the British Medical Journal has shown that there may be a positive link between having acupuncture whilst going through the IVF procedure and improved rates of pregnancy and live births. It is believed that Traditional Acupuncture can help play an effective role in the regulation and assistance of the female reproductive system. It is also thought that it can help improve many areas of menstrual difficulty, from irregular cycles, to temporary amenorrhoea (no periods), painful periods, heavy bleeding, and problems with early miscarriages etc. There is a suggestion that it may also help with non-specific infertility when both couples are involved in the process.
As an acupuncturist the whole area of infertility and IVF is of particular interest to me. During my years in Practice, I have had increasingly encouraging results using Traditional Chinese Medicine with those couples going through IVF and assisted conception.
If you are thinking of coming to have acupuncture for fertility, then you may like to have a look on the web at various research that has been taking place. One of the most exciting has been an article published in the British Medical Journal “Effects of Acupuncture on rates of Pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vetro fertilisation” published on 7th February 2007. Click here to read the article.
When seeking acupuncture for fertility and for the IVF procedure, it is helpful if both partners are able to come for treatment. It does after all take two to make a baby. It is also advisable to give the process some time to work. For couples wanting help with fertility, the process may take up to a year. However, it is not necessary to have acupuncture every week. Every couple has a different set of needs which will be taken into account. I usually recommend that the female partner attends up to a month before the IVF protocol starts, and then weekly throughout the IVF procedure. The acupuncture protocol I use emphasizes that she should be treated just before egg collection, between egg collection and embryo transfer, and as soon as possible after embryo transfer. The male partner should be treated weekly for 4 weeks with particular emphasis on treatment just before sperm donation.
For further advice on Acupuncture and fertility, or Acupuncture and IVF please e-mail or ring the numbers shown on the Contact us.