Understanding your fertility journey
Of all the great many patients I see every year, it’s those who are having difficulties in conceiving a child that often face the greatest emotional challenges.
I’ve written in the past about the guilt and shame that many couples feel when they find their biology conspiring to thwart them in what they perhaps consider to be one of the most fundamental jobs the body is designed to do.
That shame and guilt is misplaced, of course – as I have already said many times in these articles.
Conception, pregnancy and birth are complicated enough as individual biological processes – it’s only when they’re considered as a single journey in which everything needs to click together that we can appreciate the birth of a child for the miracle it really is.
Sadly, the frustration, stress and apprehension that failure to conceive can bring only serves to exacerbate the situation, making it harder still to conceive naturally.
In lots of cases that cocktail of anxiety is short-lived and couples find everything all falls into place naturally.
But for others, underlying medical conditions in one or both partners – perhaps undiagnosed until conception becomes elusive for months – mean intervention is needed to help the body to overcome whatever physiological issue is responsible.
So it’s little wonder that the fertility journey is an emotional and often challenging experience for many couples and individuals trying to start or expand their families.
In fact, it’s estimated that around 10-15% of couples struggle with infertility, which is medically defined as the inability to conceive after a year of trying. Eventually couples may turn to alternative routes to pregnancy, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Whatever your own fertility story might be, acupuncture can be extremely effective in helping to get the body into a state where either natural or assisted conception has a greater chance of success.
However, there are some important milestones that make up the fertility journey, and it’s often helpful to have an understanding what infertility is.
Having an insight into the causes of infertility and the possible solutions to it is crucial in determining the best course of action. In addition to underlying health conditions such as problems within one or both partners’ reproductive function, other common causes of infertility include age and hormonal imbalances.
Some of these can be addressed without need for IVF. Knowing where the problems might lie helps you to navigate the medical journey that may then be needed to resolve the problem.
Typically – though not always – the fertility journey follows common steps:
Testing: Both partners will typically undergo various tests to diagnose infertility and determine the best course of treatment. These tests can include blood tests, ultrasound scans, and sperm analysis.
Treatment options: Depending on the cause of infertility, there are various treatment options available, including medications, surgical procedures, and assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Emotional impact: Infertility can have a significant emotional impact on couples and individuals, leading to feelings of sadness, frustration, and anger. Support from friends, family, and healthcare providers can be helpful during this time.
Coping strategies: There are various coping strategies that can be used to manage the emotional impact of infertility. These can include counselling, support groups, and mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga.
So, how can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture can be beneficial both in helping couples to conceive naturally as well as in tandem with assisted reproduction by helping you to de-stress and become less anxious.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of health conditions, including infertility.
The practice involves the painless insertion of superfine, sterile needles into specific points on the body to balance the flow of energy and improve overall health.
• Increase blood flow to the reproductive organs: Acupuncture increases blood flow to the reproductive organs, which can help to improve the health and function of the ovaries and uterus. This can improve the chances of successful conception and increase the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy.
• Balance hormones: Acupuncture can help to regulate and balance hormones in the body, which can play a key role in fertility. Hormonal imbalances can cause problems with ovulation, implantation, and pregnancy, and acupuncture can help to restore balance.
• Reduce stress: Stress is a known factor in infertility, as it can interfere with the normal functioning of the reproductive system. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress and improve the overall sense of well-being, which can increase the chances of successful conception.
• Improve egg and sperm quality: Acupuncture can improve the quality of eggs and sperm, which can increase the chances of successful conception. By improving overall health and reducing stress, acupuncture can increase the chances of producing healthy eggs and sperm, which are crucial for successful conception and pregnancy.
• Be used in conjunction with other treatments: Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with other fertility treatments, such as IVF, to increase the chances of success. Acupuncture can also help to reduce the side effects of other treatments and make the process more manageable.
• Help to address underlying health issues: Infertility can be linked to issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, or thyroid imbalances, which acupuncture can help to mitigate
There are other benefits that are unrelated to fertility, too.
Acupuncture is a holistic treatment that is tailored to meet individual needs and is known to address underlying health issues and improve emotional well-being.
It is a safe, cost-effective and non-invasive treatment that has no harmful side effects.
It’s important to note that acupuncture should be performed by a licensed and experienced practitioner who has received specific training in infertility treatment and will better understand the complexities of the reproductive system and also have better understanding on an integrative approach to treating infertility.
If you’d like to know more about acupuncture for infertility, please get in touch for a confidential and informal chat – and do speak to your GP or other health practitioner about the benefits of using acupuncture in your fertility journey.