Women experiencing difficulty in conceiving is a very common problem. There may be underlying gynaecological issues, but often, the inability to conceive is simply labelled as ‘unexplained infertility’. The journey of trying to conceive, and not being able to, is a highly sensitive one. It can leave individuals and couples vulnerable, stressed and anxious. Their hopes and expectations can result in painful disappointment.
There have been many studies carried out on the efficacy of acupuncture in assisting fertility and there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that acupuncture can enhance a woman’s chances of conception. It can help by reducing their feelings of stress and any underlying emotional problems which may be contributing to fertility problems such as depression, anxiety, weight disorders and repressed grief, to name but a few.
In addition it can help by regulating fertility hormones, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and encouraging healthy maturation of sperm and eggs. Also, it is possible for acupuncture treatment to counter the effects of existing medical conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis, Fibroids, and issues with sperm count and motility in males.
Acupuncture is also very helpful alongside IVF, IUI, ICSI and donor procedures. Success rates seem to dramatically improve, not only in creating the most ideal conditions for conception (physically and emotionally) but also giving the woman the highest possible chance of a problem-free pregnancy. Acupuncture can help alleviate morning sickness and offer support during pregnancy, labour, and delivery.
Acupuncture may help in the treatment of infertility by:
Regulating fertility hormones - stress and other factors can disrupt the function of the hypothalamic pituitary-ovarian axis (HPOA). Acupuncture promotes the release of beta-endorphin in the brain, which regulates gonadatrophin releasing hormone from the hypothalamus, follicle stimulating hormone from the pituitary gland, and oestrogen and progesterone levels from the ovary.
Increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs which can improve the thickness of the endometrial lining, so increasing the chances of embryo implantation.
Increasing egg production and improving oocyte quality, which could increase the chance of fertilisation.
Enhancing luteal function
Regulating follicle stimulation hormone-receptor
Normalising cortisol and prolactin levels on IVF medication days reducing stress
Promoting embryo implantation.
Most clinical trials to date suggest that acupuncture may be useful in the embryo transfer stage of in vitro fertilisation, and results in an increased pregnancy rate and a greater number of live births.
Acupuncture for Fertility
Meet the Specialist
Grainne first became interested in Acupuncture following a period of illness. The effect of acupuncture on her health was so significant that she was motivated to learn how to practice. Following the completion of her Psychology degree in Belfast, she returned to London in 1999 to study at the School of Five Element Acupuncture. She went on to run a private practice for many years in London, working at Neals Yard Therapy Rooms, the Core Trust addiction centre, and the Kite Clinic fertility centre. She is a registered Acupuncturist, and a member of the British Acupuncture Council.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect during the first treatment?
The Acupuncturist will gather a personal history; investigating your past and current health issues, as well as your lifestyle, work, and any personal or emotional issues. A complete history is required in order to facilitate the selection of points. In addition to the gathering this information, the acupuncturist will needle their first set of points.
Is the needling painful?
Acupuncturists use fine sterile stainless steel needles. When the needle reaches the acupuncture point the sensation is often described as a tingling or a dull ache.
How will I feel after a treatment?
You are likely to feel relaxed and calm after treatment. However, you may feel tired or drowsy. Occasionally you may experience an aggravation of your symptoms; this can be a good sign and should pass quickly.
How many sessions will I need?
A typical course of treatment would be a weekly appointment for four weeks, progressing to fortnightly and then proceeding to longer intervals as necessary. Individual cases vary, and some conditions may take longer to treat.
Mondays / Wednesdays 9 – 1
Gabriele - Mondays 2 - 6