How Acupuncture Can Help Fertility
Women who are striving to become moms may have an ally in acupuncture.
The 4,000-year-old practice has many medical applications, but its ability to balance hormones and increase blood flow to specific parts of the body, along with its proven stress-relief properties, make it another tool for women who face challenges getting pregnant.
“It can help women who are thinking about it as a stand-alone approach or it can be used in combination with other fertility methods,” said Sally Williams, DO, Avera Medical Group Integrative Medicine physician. “Acupuncture stimulates the neuro-hormonal response in our bodies, and that can help women who are focused on improving their chances of fertility. Our bodies have many connections, and targeting the specific spots where those connections lie can help.”
Williams said that while each patient’s health and several other factors come into play – acupuncture is always tailored specifically for the person who receives the service – it does work.
“It’s pretty exciting – quite neat actually – to be able to help families who had tried a variety of approaches without success. Then they get the good news,” she said.
Acupuncture involves the careful placement of slender needles into key points in the body, including the abdomen or from the knees to the feet. It’s also common to have them placed around the hands and the head.
“Sometimes it may include placement of hair-like needles into the external part of the ear, too,” she said. “When we first meet with the patient, we go through history and discuss the best approaches. It can vary depending on a number of factors and our initial consultation can help those new to the technique better understand it before we begin.”
Most acupuncture sessions take about an hour. They are done in a relaxing room and the needles are left in place for approximately 20-30 minutes. While most fertility-related acupuncture is for women, some men take part in the medical service as well, to help with circulation or to address stress and anxiety, which are factors that also can affect fertility.
“Stress can play a negative role in our lives and health, and it can negatively impact efforts by couples who are trying to conceive. It impacts our hormone levels so much,” Williams said. “Women will come in for one or two sessions each week, and we will usually see them for a period of two to nine months. We typically see results during months two through six. But naturally, the results can vary, and it’s not a guaranteed procedure. It doesn’t work for every type of infertility.”
Williams said there are many benefits beyond the improvements in fertility.
“Acupuncture patients also report that they feel better overall and have higher energy levels, so there are a variety of advantages to using this approach,” she said.
You can learn more about Avera Medical Group Integrative Medicine acupuncture services online.