It’s a commonly accepted idea that it’s harder to get pregnant when you’re under stress. It does make sense — stress is not known for improving any area of our health.
And, since struggling with fertility is itself stressful — between the waiting, wondering what’s wrong, and dealing with medical appointments and procedures — this can really put people in a bind.
One day, not for the first time, I was listening to a patient talk about how she was trying to manage her stress, but she thought she wasn’t doing a very good job, and she knew this is probably why she wasn’t getting pregnant. And suddenly, it just hit me as all wrong.
I looked at this woman and thought: people get pregnant in war zones. People get pregnant in abusive relationships where they are terrified and stuck. People get pregnant when they’re homeless, or have no idea where their next meal is coming from.
It’s not about the stress. It might be completely unfair – everything about infertility is unfair – but it’s not just about the stress.
This is what I said to my patient. She just nodded.
So where does acupuncture fit into all of this?
Acupuncture has become famous for it use in infertility treatment, and with good reason: numerous studies support its effectiveness either alone, or in increasing the success rates of medical fertility treatments.
Acupuncture works differently than Western medical interventions. Medical treatments can actually make things happen, by forcing ovulation, directly fertilizing an egg outside the body, implanting an embryo in the uterus. It’s miraculous what these procedures can do, and a real blessing to many families that we have access to them.
Acupuncture works on a different level — by treating the whole person, figuring out what is out of balance or depleted, and bringing you, and your reproductive system, back to a more optimal state of health. The idea is to create the best possible conditions for conception to take place, with or without medical intervention. And the studies show that it really helps.
The bonus: supporting your health and balance also supports you in having a healthy pregnancy, and healthy birth, and a healthy baby. And a healthy, strong mother to take care of that baby.
The other bonus? Acupuncture is really good at relieving stress.
Study Finds Stress Does Not Affect Fertility Treatment
A study in the British Medical Journal found no correlation between stress levels and pregnancy rates for women undergoing fertility treatments.
The authors reviewed fourteen research studies with 3,583 women undergoing a cycle of fertility treatment. The women were assessed before fertility treatment for anxiety and stress. The authors then compared data for women who became pregnant and those who did not.
The results show that emotional distress was not associated with whether or not a woman became pregnant.
Professor Boivin, the lead researcher, states: “these findings should reassure women that emotional distress caused by fertility problems or other life events co-occurring with treatment will not compromise their chance of becoming pregnant”.