Mary Sabo, DACM has over a decade of experience using the tools of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and nutrition to support women’s health and enhance fertility and to “bridge the gap” between Eastern and Western medicine. In this post, she explains how acupuncture can play a role in fertility treatments.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been in use for thousands of years to naturally enhance fertility. While the mechanism and approach is different from Western medicine, both can help improve women’s fertility, and the two medicines together have shown an even greater combined effect. It may seem odd that inserting hair-thin needles at different points in the body can impact fertility, but recent studies are starting to back up what doctors in China have known for centuries.
Our bodies are constantly trying to heal and create homeostasis, but sometimes they are too stressed or don’t have the right resources to self-correct. Symptoms are the body’s way of telling us that something is “off,” and acupuncture is a method of communicating back, encouraging the body to perform optimally. It does this by affecting physiological reactions and processes in the body that serve as methods of communication, including hormones, nerves, blood flow, neurotransmitters, pain receptors, fascia, muscle tone, and immune factors. The acupuncture sends a message to change. Acupuncture, along with Chinese herbs, dietary changes, and other lifestyle changes, can take the pressure off a stressed system and provide the building blocks for healing.
Sometimes, the body is not capable of completely self-correcting, which is where Western medicine excels. Western medical treatments are often focused on doing the body’s job for it, while Chinese medicine tries to help the body self-correct. Both treatments can be powerful, but both have limitations. When used together, the effects on health—and particularly on fertility—can be potentially greater than the effects of either treatment used alone.
While no studies have yet been performed on egg freezing cycles paired with acupuncture, many studies have demonstrated the benefits of incorporating acupuncture in related fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). One meta-analysis indicated that acupuncture during the time of ovarian hyperstimulation in an IVF cycle improved clinical pregnancy rates. Another showed that acupuncture treatments before and after an embryo transfer improved clinical pregnancy and live birth rates.
Chinese herbs can also be beneficial for fertility, when used appropriately. One study found that women taking a Chinese herbal formula before and during an IVF cycle had improvements in the quality of their follicular fluid—the fluid in which an egg develops before ovulation or retrieval—and higher live birth rates. Another study showed an even greater benefit when Chinese herbs and acupuncture were used in the months leading up to and including an IVF cycle.
Plus, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can also help manage anxiety and stress during fertility treatments, which in and of itself can help improve fertility and quality of life—and make egg freezing just a little bit easier.
Remember—if you’re undergoing any kind of fertility treatment, including egg freezing, speak with a doctor before beginning acupuncture or herbal medicines.
Want to learn more or contact Mary? Visit her website here.