Acupuncture, Infertility and IVF.

Mark Goulding – fertility ‘Tune-UP’ acupuncture.

Fertility ‘Tune-Up’ Acupuncture is often used by Irish couples to try and help improve the chances of conceiving and of maintaining a pregnancy. Acupuncture can be of help whether you are trying to conceive naturally or alongside IVF or other ART treatments.  Men are also beginning to use acupuncture as an aid to maximising their chances of producing enough good quality sperm.

Acupuncture helps in 3 main ways: (see refs. below)

1) Reducing the negative (stress) effects of Cortisol & Prolactin – the stress hormones.

2) Helping to Regularise Ovulation eg PCO

3) Increasing Bloodflow to the reproductive organs.

4) (yes, I did say 3 above!) In males it can help with a general improvement in Sperm parameters.

Having worked in this area for over 17 years, with clients from County Wicklow and South Dublin I find that acupuncture can really be of great help with fertility and pregnancy issues.

My own approach (which comes from my training in China, Ireland, the UK, and study I have undertaken with acupuncture fertility experts like Zita West, Jane Lyttleton, Debra Betts, Trevor Wing etc.) is to use traditional acupuncture to enhance the chances of conception by preparing the body as much as possible, in the weeks and months prior to conception. This helps lay the foundation necessary for a healthy pregnancy.

To do this [for women] the acupuncture points are selected during each treatment in accordance with the menstrual cycle. For example, coming up to the period, points will be used that will encourage the gentle movement of blood and qi (energy), while after the period, points that are aimed at replacing the ‘lost menstrual blood’ might be used. This approach aims to enhance and maximise what is happening at each particular stage of the cycle. This is then individualised depending on the particular imbalances seen in the person according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and her particular circumstances (e.g. perhaps there may be menstrual irregularities to address like very heavy or light periods or clots etc.).

Other specific protocols may also be used when someone is undergoing IVF treatment.

By looking in detail at what is happening in a womans cycle and establishing what deficiencies or excesses there are (according to TCM), and addressing them, I believe acupuncture can significantly influence fertility positively. My experience is that the best possible route for a couple with fertility issues, is to combine acupuncture with conventional investigations/treatments and to literally get – ‘the best of both worlds.‘ In my experience people generally do best when they combine both conventional testing and treatments with acupuncture.

Male Fertility Acupuncture

It is estimated that  in up to about 40% of couples with fertility issues, male fertility issues are involved. For whatever reason, the general sperm quality among males has dropped alarmingly. Our sperm counts today are probably about half what our grandfathers would have had.

Acupuncture has been shown to have beneficial effects on sperm parameters and can, in some cases,  help improve:

  • Sperm count
  • Sperm motility
  • Sperm quality

Through a combination of advice (e.g. about things like scrotal temperature, weight reduction,  cycling, lifestyle etc. etc), and acupuncture & herbal medicine,  male fertility issues can be worked on.

Most of the acupuncture points used are on the arms and legs and tummy – none are too near your ‘wobbly bits’. Sorry if this sounds a bit flippant – but I know you’ll have been wondering!

Please feel free to give me a call to discuss your situation in total confidence.

The main aim is to have both partners as healthy as possible in order to attempt to maximise the chances of achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

I was a founder member of the Irish  ‘Zita West Affiliated Acupuncturist‘ network, having trained with Zita in her methods. I have recently completed Trevor Wings Diploma in TCM OBS/Gyn course (and passed with Merit!). This course was run over 6 months and was an excellent one which showed the benefits of combining conventional investigations with acupuncture.

While I make no claims or promises in relation to how effective treatment with acupuncture will be, I genuinely believe it can be of great help, and I can think of few more rewarding days than the ones when I receive the call to say, “I’m pregnant!”

Please give me a call on 086-1556384  if you would like to discuss using acupuncture and/or herbs to help you in your quest.

Good Luck.

References:

1) Magarelli PC et al. (2009),Changes in serum cortisol and prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer treatment.Fertil Steril. 2009 Dec;92(6):1870-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.10.067. Epub 2008 Dec 31.

2)Stener-Victorin E. et al. (2000), Effects of electro-acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome” Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2000 Mar;79(3):180-8.

3)Stener-Victorin E. et al. (1996), Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture.” Hum Reprod. 1996 Jun;11(6):1314-7.

4)Jian P. et al. (2005), “Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility”Fertil Steril. 2005 Jul;84(1):141-7.