Fertility Acupuncture for women and men

Acupuncture for Fertility

Using acupuncture and oriental therapies to support natural fertility or your assisted reproductive journey.    

By Dr Sharon Pitardi, Acupuncturist and Oriental Medicine practitioner, Healthful. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine dates back at least 3000 years and has a long history of improving fertility in both women and men.

At the core of this therapy is the idea that the body’s life force ‘Qi’ flows through us via channels, called meridians. When a couple or female has difficulty conceiving, we look to the balance the four organ systems and meridians commonly responsible for fertility: Kidney, Spleen, Heart, and Liver.

The goal of treatment is to maintain and restore equilibrium in the body, creating harmony by balancing the opposing forces of yin (the passive) and yang (the active). Stimulating acupoints helps to balance the flow of Qi and Blood throughout the body, allowing better self-regulation of functions related to fertility such as hormones, blood flow and ovulation cycles.

Acupuncture can also assist to treat male fertility issues such as low sperm count, poor sperm quality, varicocele, infection and sexual dysfunction

 

What does fertility acupuncture help with? 

Traditional Chinese Medicine can boost both natural fertility and can assist women and couples undergoing Assisted Reproductive therapies such as IVF.

By assisting to regulate your hormones, oriental therapies can regulate cycles, improve conditions for conception and implantation, treat underlying gynaecological issues, improve sperm quality and quantity, and moderate stress, anxiety and sleep.

Modern research has shown that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can assist women with:

  • restoring reproductive balance by influencing endocrine, immune and nervous systems, as well as aiding in blood circulation.
  • reducing stress hormones associated with infertility, helping to increase hormone balance.
  • restoring ovarian function by improving blood flow to the ovaries and increasing egg production.
  • stabilizing hypothalamic function and improve gonadotropin release, which leads to improved ovarian activity.

(Xu et al., 2022)

For men, research supports the use of Traditional Chinese medicine, including herbal medicine to

  • improve semem quality, concentration and motility, which resulted in increased pregnancy rates (Feng et al., 2022; Zhou et al., 2019)
  • regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis and boost the function of Sertoli cells and Leydig cells (Zhou et al., 2019)
  • improve the micro-circulation of the testes and reduce inflammation (Zhou et al., 2019)
  • effectively treat varicocele, increasing sperm motility and concentration (Ishikawa, 1996; Kycuk et.al, 2016).
  • regulate weight loss for overweight men (Zhang et al., 2018)
  • decrease the level of anti-sperm antibody (Zhou et al., 2019).
  • reduce stress and anxiety levels (Huang et al., 2011).

We appreciate that trying for a baby can be stressful.  We find our clients comment on their renewed ability to manage stress and anxiety, and their sense of peace following treatments.

When should I start acupuncture treatment? 

In an ideal world, we would love to start working with you to prepare your body at least three months before you start trying for a baby.  This gives us a few months to help regulate your cycle and build up your body so that there is plenty of Blood and Qi to support both conception and pregnancy.

We realise, however,  that many people are unfamiliar with the benefits of Chinese medicine for fertility, and as such you may have found us well into your journey.

Where are the needles placed? 

They can be placed anywhere on the body, other than in the genital and breast regions.  It is usual when working with women’s fertility that some needles will be placed on the abdomen, perhaps using other therapies like moxibustion, cupping or tuina to assist with treatment.

For male fertility we do not place any needles in the genital region, rather we support sperm and sexual function by using points on the meridians which affect fertility.

What should I expect from an acupuncture session?

In our Initial consult, we undertake a complete investigation in your, (and if applicable, your partner’s) fertility and health history so that we can better diagnose your presentation.  If you have tests, ultrasounds and other investigations it is a good idea to send these to us before your first appointment.

Treatment is personalised and guided completely by your Chinese Medicine pattern and constitution.  Therapies are likely to include cupping, moxibustion, acupuncture and herbal medicine, as well as dietary and lifestyle advice.  Your first session is usually 1.15hrs, and then follow up sessions are 50 mins, with the needles/therapies usually undertaken for about 35 mins.

Regular treatment is key.  We suggest weekly treatments for at least 2-3 months working with your natural cycle, or to regulate your cycle if you experience amenorrhea or irregularity. Fertility treatments are often supported with Chinese Herbal medicine.

Once you fall pregnant we can also assist with common pregnancy complaints such as morning sickness, fatigue, muscular pain, digestive issues, swelling, insomnia, anaemia, anxiety, vaginal and skin issues.  Women also benefit from seeing an acupuncturist in their last trimester, usually from about 36 weeks to assist with turning breech babies and preparing their body for birth

What happens if I am doing ART/IVF? 

For those undergoing ART/ IVF, we work with your cycle and scheduled procedures including in preparation for your next round, during stimulation, before egg retrieval, before and after implantation and during the ‘wait’.

Trying for a baby can be stressful.  We find our clients comment on their renewed ability to manage stress and anxiety, and their sense of peace following treatment.

 

 

References: 

Feng, J., He, H., Wang, Y., Zhang, X., Zhang, X., Zhang, T., Zhu, M., Wu, X., & Zhang, Y. (2022). The efficacy and mechanism of acupuncture in the treatment of male infertility: A literature review. Frontiers in endocrinology, 13, 1009537. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2022.1009537

Huang, D. M., Huang, G. Y., Lu, F. E., Stefan, D., Andreas, N., & Robert, G. (2011). Acupuncture for infertility: is it an effective therapy?. Chinese journal of integrative medicine17(5), 386–395. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11655-011-0611-8

Ishikawa, H., Ohashi, M., Hayakawa, K., Kaneko, S., & Hata, M. (1996). Effects of guizhi-fuling-wan on male infertility with varicocele. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 24(3-4), 327–331. ://doi.org/10.1142/S0192415X96000396

Kucuk, E. V., Bindayi, A., Boylu, U., Onol, F. F., & Gumus, E. (2016). Randomised clinical trial of comparing effects of acupuncture and varicocelectomy on sperm parameters in infertile varicocele patients. Andrologia, 48(10), 1080–1085. https://doi.org/10.1111/and.12541

Xu JY, Zhao AL, Xin P, Geng JZ, Wang BJ, Xia T. Acupuncture for Female Infertility: Discussion    on Action Mechanism and Application. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2022 Jul 4 2022

Zhang K, Zhou S, Wang C, Xu H, Zhang L. Acupuncture on Obesity: Clinical Evidence and Possible Neuroendocrine Mechanisms. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : Ecam. 2018 ;2018:6409389. DOI: 10.1155/2018/6409389. PMID: 30013603; PMCID: PMC6022277.

Zhou, S. H., Deng, Y. F., Weng, Z. W., Weng, H. W., & Liu, Z. D. (2019). Traditional Chinese Medicine as a Remedy for Male Infertility: A Review. The world journal of men's health37(2), 175–185. https://doi.org/10.5534/wjmh.180069

Meet Your Acupuncturist. 

Sharon supports women with hormonal issues, digestive issues, gynecology, fertility, pregnancy and post-natal issues, menopause, mental health and pain conditions. She has experience working with female and male fertility and in assisting women and couples undergoing IVF.

Sharon