The Chinese have been using acupuncture to help with fertility by identifying and balancing patterns of disharmony for centuries. If assisted reproductive techniques like in vitro fertilization (IVF) are being used, acupuncture can help increase the chances of success anywhere from 40-60%. Since high levels of stress can be a major cause of the inability to conceive naturally or have a successful IVF cycle, stress reduction is central to restoration of normal fertility. Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes that optimal health in both men and women is necessary for a successful pregnancy.
Before Your First Visit
To begin the process of understanding your fertility and to make your first visit more meaningful, start a basal body temperature chart. A basal body temperature chart can be found here.
Keep a chart for 3 months before coming in to start acupuncture for fertility-related issues.
On your first visit to consult with an acupuncture practitioner for fertility, ideally both the future mother and father should be present. You should consider starting at the very least 6 months out from your projected conception date.
Research shows that acupuncture boosts fertility in several ways; it increases blood flow to the reproductive organs, which assists in thickening the lining of the uterus, correcting imbalances in hormone function and facilitating the release of endorphins in the brain. (This paper was released in 2002 in the journal Fertility and Sterility.)
The NCCAM recently posted a research article titled "Acupuncture Shows Promise in Improving Rates of Pregnancy Following IVF."
For more information visit my blog series on Complementary Alternative Medicine Advances in Fertility.
Based on a study published online February 7th 2008 in the British Medical Journal, acupuncture may first, mediate the release of neurotransmitters, which may in turn stimulate secretion of gonadotrophin releasing hormone, thereby influencing the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and fertility. It may secondly, stimulate blood flow to the uterus by inhibiting uterine central sympathetic nerve activity. And thirdly it may stimulate the production of endogenous opioids, which may inhibit the central nervous system outflow and the biological response to stress.