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Fertility Acupuncture Basics

Posted Sep 12 2008 12:05pm
I have been getting a lot of questions about using acupuncture/herbs/traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for fertility, so I thought I'd pull together a basic for-your-information-only post (i.e., I'm not a health professional and these are my suggestions but I always exhort you to check with your own healthcare providers...)

What is fertility acupuncture/TCM?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has conducted clinical studies on acupuncture and determined that infertility/fertility is one condition (among others) that acupuncture appears to effectively treat. The mechanisms are not entirely clear, but their studies have shown that acupuncture can increase bloodflow to the uterus as well as help balance the hormonal system.

Fertility is actually a subspecialty of general acupuncture, so someone (like my late father, for example) who mainly treats pain may not be well versed in fertility issues.

Fertility acupuncture strives to balance menstrual cycle, and therefore, the treatments (and/or herbs) should differ during different parts of your cycle. If the practioner just does the "same-old same-old" each time, it may be a sign he or she may be less knowledgeable in this area.

How long does it take?

TCM aims for balance and not quick fixes. The practioner should be able to tell you when he or she thinks your body is ready. It will take at least one cycle to observe the menses, and it's possible you might need two, four, six, even nine months of treatment depending on your underlying issues. It is also possible the practioner may feel your partner needs to be treated as well.

NOTE: there are some problems, like blocked fallopian tubes, that acupuncture cannot treat, and therefore it's always good to explore all therapies in conjunction with your healthcare provider.

Does acupuncture help ART/IVF?

Yes, it is not an either/or choice with Artificial Reproductive Technology. Acupuncture can help you reduce stress and help you body prepare for a favorable implantation scenario. You'll need to coordinate things with your practioner.

How do I find a good acupuncturist?

Word of mouth is one. You can inquire at the OB/GYN department of a local hospital.

Another good place to start is the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), a nonprofit informational clearinghouse and licensing organization.

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