Fertility For Men and Women
Jenny began her acupuncture work treating women mainly during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. She quickly learned that the best way to ensure a healthier perinatal experience for her patients was to first work with them preconception, to establish the foundations needed to make their bodies a welcoming and supportive place for new life to grow – balanced, harmonious and fertile. Once again, the body is seen as a garden and microcosm of nature through the lens of Eastern medicine – the seed of new life we hope to plant in our bodies grows best when we first cultivate the soil, and plant and nurture the seed in harmony with the laws of nature.
Fertility has since become a special passion and focus for Jenny in her practice. For a couple, a diagnosis of infertility can be difficult and devastating. Being told you are infertile can feel like being told your body has failed its very reason for existence. Today fertility is complicated by the fact that couples are waiting longer to become parents, and reproductive systems are often depleted by years of poor diet and stress. Eastern medicine offers ancient, time-tested techniques to help a couple move gently and naturally toward a state of health and well-being that will allow their bodies to do what they were designed to do naturally – conceive and carry to term a healthy child.
Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York reviewed recent studies and concluded that acupuncture helps to:
- Increase blood flow to the uterus, which improves the chances of an ovum implanting on the uterus wall.
- Reduce anxiety and stress. The hormones that are secreted during stressful situations can significantly decrease fertility.
- Normalize hormone and endocrine systems that regulate ovulation, especially in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Positively affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which plays a key role in fertility.
- Regulate the menstrual cycle.
- Increase sperm motility and reducing the presence of abnormal sperm.
In addition, the British Acupuncture Council confirms that Acupuncture may help in the treatment of infertility by:
- Increasing egg production and improving oocyte quality, which could increase the chance of fertilization.
- Enhancing luteal function.
- Regulating follicle stimulation hormone-receptor expression.
- Normalizing cortisol and prolactin levels on IVF medication days; reducing stress.
Of course there are cases in which imbalances are or have become so severe over the long-term that resolution may not be possible with natural Traditional methods alone. These cases often benefit from the assistance of western biomedicine. Assisted Reproductive Therapy (ART) applies some of the world’s most advanced medical technology to help couples with fertility problems become pregnant who could not bear their own children otherwise. But the physical, emotional, and financial costs of these treatments are high. Studies reported by The American Pregnancy Association suggest that the most effective fertility treatments involve a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and traditional medical interventions. In 2008, the British Medical Journal published research which concluded that acupuncture can be offered as a significant, clinically relevant adjunct to IVF, possibly due to its ability to relax the uterus and increase blood flow for the successful implantation of an embryo within the uterine lining. One study in particular showed an improvement in pregnancy rates after ART from 26.3% in the control group to 42.5% in the acupuncture group. In a 2007 study, researchers found that acupuncture may improve the quality of life in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). Women receiving acupuncture reported significantly less abdominal pain, other pain, nausea, and stress that resulted from the ART procedures.
Acupuncture and TCM methods can be used to strengthen, support, and balance overall health and well-being, therefore can increase the effectiveness of other procedures. We really want the best of both worlds combined as one medicine in our lives, especially at such an important time as conception.