Could fertility acupuncture help you get pregnant? We take a closer look...
If you're struggling to fall pregnant, you might have started looking around at natural fertility boosters and alternative therapies. As well as yoga, one of the most popular of these is fertility acupuncture.
But what is it, and can it really help you get pregnant? For our next post in fertility month, we take a closer look.
For starters, what is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine. It is seen as a form of complementary or alternative medicine, but is used by the NHS.
For each treatment, the patient usually sits or lies down and then fine needles are inserted at specific sites in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes. These are then left in for a short period of time.
But it is as effective and well-regarded as traditional medicine? The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) currently only recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for chronic tension-type headaches and migraines.
In many conditions where acupuncture is used, there is less good, quality evidence to draw any clear conclusions about its effectiveness compared with other treatments. (Source: NHS).
So what is fertility acupuncture?
There has been little widespread research into acupuncture and fertility, and the studies that have taken place have come up with mixed results. However, there are a couple of reasons why it's thought that acupuncture may benefit fertility:
- For regulating fertility hormones, disrupted due to stress and other factors that can negatively impact fertility.
- Increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs as stress also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which causes constriction of ovarian arteries. It can also increase blood flow to the uterus, improving the thickness of the endometrial lining and increasing the chances of embryo implantation.
- Counteracting the effects of polycystic ovarian syndrome
What is it like to have fertility acupuncture? We asked a blogger who tried it:
'After a few months of TTC and not falling pregnant, I was getting anxious and started looking for anything that might help. I'd read a lot about acupuncture online and it seemed like a non-invasive and practical step I could take.
I found a reputable local acupuncturist and went along to see her. The first session consisted of a long discussion about my health history, and we covered medical issues, my ovulation cycle and even how I was feeling. We then moved on to the acupuncture itself, which wasn't painful or scary at all. I had to change into a robe and lie on the table, and the acupuncturist inserted several needles at various points around my body, which felt like a tiny twinge or slight scratch. She then left me to lie there for about 40 minutes while playing relaxing music. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep.
I went along a few times a month for a few months, with appointments scheduled to fall at different points in my cycle - mostly before ovulation, and in the few days after. The acupuncture points on my body where she inserted the needles changed depending on the stage on my cycle, but they were often not where you'd expect - lots of them were on my head. She also gave me diet and lifestyle tips to help boost my fertility and helped me track my temperature and ovulation each month.
For me, it wasn't what ultimately helped me fall pregnant. And it wasn't cheap, especially as I would have multiple sessions each month so that's definitely something to bear in mind. But, it did help me to relax at a time when I was stressed and anxious about not falling pregnant. I loved the sessions and felt a tangible difference; I felt like a different person afterwards. At a time when I was trying to keep TTC secret, it also helped to have a knowledgeable person I could confide everything in (Gill, A Baby on Board).
Thinking about trying fertility acupuncture?
If you choose to have acupuncture, make sure your acupuncture practitioner is either a regulated healthcare professional such as a doctor, nurse or physiotherapist or a member of a recognised national acupuncture organisation. Always ask your doctor if you are worried about anything.