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Can Acupuncture Help Me Get Pregnant

Can acupuncture help me get pregnant?

I have written a lot about fertility, pregnancy and assisted reproduction (IVF) over the years, and one theme that keeps recurring, especially when we’re talking about infertility, is the emotional toll that can be part of that journey.

In the past I’ve touched on the (misplaced) sense of inadequacy that many women feel when they are unable to conceive.

It could be argued that the one thing women are biologically designed to do is conceive, carry and then give birth to children, so when that doesn’t happen easily – or in some cases at all – you can begin to understand why some women perceive they have failed.

However, conception is not something over which any woman has 100 per cent control. Given the incredibly complex biological process that must take place just for an egg to be fertilised, every conception and every birth are evidence of women beating the genetic odds that are stacked against them.

And while knowing and accepting that logic doesn’t make the pain of being unable to conceive any easier, it is possible to take steps to increase the chances of successful conception.

As an acupuncturist, much of my work is spent in general practice, helping my patients through all manner of challenging, yet not altogether uncommon ailments, problems and conditions.

But I have chosen to develop a specialist interest and understanding in the field of women’s health and, in particular, fertility. As you might imagine, one question I get asked often is whether acupuncture can help a woman to become pregnant.

The short answer is that yes, it can, though its effect on fertility is not black and white. What I mean by that is that acupuncture isn’t a ‘silver bullet’ – it’s not something you go through when you’re facing fertility issues and then, the next day, you get pregnant.

But as part of a strategy to make your body more receptive to conceptions? Yes, absolutely acupuncture can help.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of acupuncture is in how it allows the body to effectively ‘reset’ itself to normal levels. Over time, our bodies are affected by the lifestyle we lead, the amount of sleep we have, the levels of stress we experience, the physicality of our world and how we interact with it, and the relationships we have.

All that combines to disrupt the body’s natural energy and rhythm. This, in turn, impacts on the ability of our physiology – our organs, blood vessels, muscles, soft tissue and so on – to function properly.

The painless insertion of superfine needles into the skin helps to restore our natural balance, allowing the body to function more effectively and efficiently.

In the end, reproduction is no different to any other biological function. For example, if we don’t make healthy eating choices and put on excessive weight as a result, we make it more difficult for the heart to circulate blood, for our soft tissue to support the additional weight, for our lungs to draw enough oxygen to fuel our physical activity.

When we are stressed or tired or in pain, we become more tense – physically and emotionally – which makes successful conception that much trickier to achieve.

So, how does acupuncture help?

There are three principles that relate to acupuncture and its role in fertility.

First, almost all body function is determined by the brain. Acupuncture helps to manage how the brain releases chemicals that trigger reproductive hormones and organ function.

Acupuncture also stimulates and optimises blood flow through the body, including to the uterus, making the uterus more receptive to embryonic implantation during assisted reproduction (and a healthy uterus also improves the chances of a successful pregnancy, whether natural or assisted).

And finally, acupuncture inhibits stress hormones, meaning you’ll be generally more relaxed, making conception more likely.

Why is stress such a big factor in fertility

The reality is that although stress is, to all intents and purposes, a mental or psychological response to external stimuli, the symptoms that manifest are very often physical – loss of appetite, poor sleep, lethargy – as well as emotional.

There are may studies that show stress can adversely affect performance in all sorts of areas of life, so it’s hardly surprising that it also impacts on fertility.

Getting stress under control is one step in successfully overcoming non-medical fertility issues.

How long does it take for acupuncture to work?

Acupuncture, like most treatments, is not an overnight fix. While many patients begin to see an immediate improvement in their general physical and emotional health, it can take weeks or even months for acupuncture to restore sufficient balance to the body to make conception and pregnancy possible.

It also depends to a greater or lesser extent on the lifestyle choices you make. It is well known, for example, that good nutrition and regular exercise both have a positive impact on readying the body for conception.

Similarly, reducing the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume will be helpful, as will avoiding situations that you know are stress triggers wherever possible.

In the end, success is about taking a collaborative and integrated approach to the whole of your health – not just about any one treatment that you expect to suddenly resolve things in an instant.

If you’d like to find out more about how acupuncture can help you to prepare for pregnancy, or you’d like to talk confidentially about any concerns or questions you may have, please get in touch for a no-obligation chat – I’d love to hear from you.

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