Want to Get Pregnant? Try Acupuncture
Posted 11/22/2016 by UHBlog
The decision to start a family is exciting, but it can be fraught with stress, especially after unsuccessful attempts to conceive, or during potentially uncomfortable fertility treatments. That’s why many women turn to proven holistic methods for help.
“Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine regulate the menstrual cycle and help the body become more balanced,” says licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist Christine Kaiser, LAc. “Acupuncture positively impacts the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis, which helps regulate hormonal cycles. When everything works together, women tend to improve fertility and, thus, get pregnant easier.”
With roots in China, acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-thin needles through the skin at strategic points along the body, which can alleviate pain and treat various physical, mental and emotional conditions. Most people find the treatments to be relaxing and painless. Treatment plans and needle selection are tailored to each individual, but Kaiser says women who are trying to get pregnant typically receive 10 to 20 needles per treatment at strategic points from the elbow to lower down the arm and from the knee to lower down the leg. Occasionally, treatments center on the lower abdomen, lower back or ear.
Acupuncture is suitable for women who:
- Have menstrual issues, such as premenstrual syndrome, bleeding abnormalities or irregular cycles
- Haven’t been able to conceive, but haven’t yet had a formal diagnosis of infertility
- Are preparing for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI)
- Are undergoing IVF, IUI or other fertility treatments and want to moderate uncomfortable side effects and improve outcomes
Kaiser works in tandem with doctors at University Hospitals Fertility Center to devise a holistic plan that complements Western medicine. Doctors often refer women to Kaiser for two to three months of weekly acupuncture sessions leading up to IVF or IUI treatments. Some sessions may also include aspects of Chinese medicine, such as moxibustion (the burning of a small herb to promote healing) or cupping (placing heated glass cups on the skin to induce relaxation).
According to Kaiser, acupuncture’s role in fertility was verified by a recent study. The study looked at the live birth rates of women who underwent IVF and received a whole system of traditional Chinese medicine that included acupuncture before and after embryo transfer. Among the many findings, the study revealed that more frequent acupuncture treatments increased live birth rates and decreased the incidence of miscarriage.
Among the study's findings, women who:
- Received typical IVF care had a live birth rate of 48 percent
- Had acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer had a live birth rate of 51 percent
- Had weekly acupuncture for two to three months before embryo transfer had a live birth rate of 61 percent
- Had weekly acupuncture for two or three months before embryo transfer had a miscarriage rate of 5.8 percent compared to 10.7 percent for those who underwent IVF without weekly acupuncture treatments
Kaiser sees positive results in her practice regularly.
“The focus is on making the host (the mother-to-be) stronger and healthier,” she says. “I love that because if they get pregnant, they will have a healthier pregnancy, a healthier baby and a healthier postpartum period so they can care for their baby. The goal is to correct fertility problems naturally.”
Christine Kaiser, LAc is a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist at University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network who also integrates Chinese medicine into UH Fertility Center. You can request an appointment with Kaiser or any other health care provider online.