10 common causes of infertility, and how acupuncture can help
Infertility is a medical condition that causes an inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to full term and affects millions of people worldwide. For those who experience it, the emotional impact and consequences can be devastating – and equally profound and significant, if not more so, as the physical ones.
In my years as an acupuncturist with a specialist interest in fertility and women’s health, I’ve seen the impact of infertility at very close quarters: frustration, anger, sadness, guilt, and shame are all common (and undeserved) consequences.
At best, the condition can trigger a sense of loss in couples struggling with infertility as the dream of having a child appears to swim just out of reach. At worst, frustration and disappointment can also lead to a sense of hopelessness, anxiety, and depression that can threaten the very fabric of a previously iron-strong relationship.
Infertility can also have a significant impact on self-esteem and sense of identity. Women, in particular, often feel that their apparent inability to conceive calls into question their femininity or sense of being a “real” woman.
Men may also experience feelings of inadequacy, especially if they have been diagnosed with male factor infertility.
As a result, couples may find they become isolated from friends and family, either because the problem is not properly understood or, more commonly, because it becomes an elephant in the room that no one – least of all the couple involved – wants to talk about.
These emotional challenges are exacerbated by the financial pressure of resolving infertility: in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is costly – and the outcomes aren’t guaranteed.
Even when the cause of infertility is resolved and conception is achieved, the emotional impact isn’t necessarily negated.
The stress and anxiety associated with the experience can continue to affect people for years to come and the trauma of infertility can stay with a person long after they have had a child, potentially continuing to affect their mental health and relationships.
What are the causes of infertility, and how can acupuncture help?
Infertility can be caused by a variety of factors, including hormonal imbalances, structural abnormalities, genetic issues, age-related decline in fertility, and lifestyle factors such as stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise.
As frustrating and emotionally challenging as infertility can be for those who are struggling to conceive, acupuncture is just one of several treatment options available.
Acupuncture is a centuries-old traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the painless insertion of superfine needles into specific points on the body and which is used to treat a variety of conditions, including infertility.
Acupuncture works by balancing the body’s energy flow, or qi, which can become blocked or disrupted due to a variety of factors.
Here are 10 of the most common reasons for infertility and how acupuncture can help to resolve them:
- Hormonal imbalances: Acupuncture can help regulate hormone levels by stimulating the pituitary gland, which controls the release of reproductive hormones.
- Structural abnormalities: Acupuncture can improve blood flow to the reproductive organs and reduce inflammation, which can help to correct structural abnormalities and promote healthy ovulation and sperm production.
- Genetic issues: Acupuncture can help to reduce the impact of genetic factors on fertility by improving overall reproductive health and function.
- Age-related decline in fertility: Acupuncture can help to improve overall health and vitality, which can help to offset the effects of age-related decline in fertility.
- Lifestyle factors: Acupuncture can help to reduce stress, improve sleep, and promote overall wellness, all of which can help to improve fertility.
- Endocrine disorders: Acupuncture can help to regulate the endocrine system, which is responsible for producing and regulating hormones. This can be beneficial for those with conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disorders, which can cause infertility.
- Unexplained infertility: In some cases, the cause of infertility may be unknown, despite extensive testing. Acupuncture can still be helpful in these cases, as it can promote overall reproductive health and function, as well as reducing stress and anxiety.
- Male infertility: Acupuncture can also be beneficial for male infertility. Studies have shown that acupuncture can improve sperm count, motility, and morphology, as well as reducing DNA damage to sperm.
- Stress and anxiety: Infertility can be a stressful and anxiety-provoking experience, which can in turn negatively impact fertility. Acupuncture can help to reduce stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation and improving mood.
- Adverse effects of fertility medications: Fertility medications can sometimes cause side effects such as nausea, headaches, and mood changes. Acupuncture can help to alleviate these side effects and promote overall wellness during fertility treatments
Acupuncture can be used alone or in conjunction with other fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).
Some studies have shown that acupuncture can improve the success rates of these treatments by improving blood flow to the uterus and increasing the thickness of the uterine lining.
Overall, acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment option for infertility that can help to improve overall reproductive health and function.
If you are struggling with infertility, it is important to consult with a qualified acupuncturist as well as your GP or other health practitioner to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.
If you’d like to find out more about how acupuncture can help to mitigate the causes of infertility, please get in touch for an informal, confidential chat. We’d love to tell you more.