Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ways acupuncture can help with fertility

My wife, Jeanie Bussell, is one of the top fertility acupuncturist in the Midwest.  At our offices in Wilmette and Chicago we see hundreds of couples every year for  fertility issues.  Fertility issues are nothing new.  In ancient China, the ability to have a child (particularly a son) was of utmost importance.  If the Emperor was unable to sire an heir, this was a national crisis.  For this reason, Fertility, Obstetrics, and Gynecology were among the first and most highly-developed specialties in Chinese medicine.   

Acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herbs can do a great many things to increase the chances of achieving pregnancy.  It can:
  • Regulate the Menses.  Controlling irregular menstruation can enable couples to better predict the time of ovulation.  It is important for a woman to ovulate at the optimal time so that the body is prepared to transport the egg and receive the embryo.

  • Increase the Uterine Lining.  Acupuncture can increase the blood flow to the uterus, resulting in a thicker uterine lining, creating a more hospitable environment for an embryo to implant.

  • Improve Sperm.  Separate studies have shown that acupuncture can increase sperm count, sperm motility, and the percentage of sperm that are normal within a given sample. 

  • Prevent Miscarriage.  Certain herbal formulae and acupuncture points are known to help secure a fetus and prevent a miscarriage.

In conjunction with In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), acupuncture may help:
·       Regulate the hormones.   This is important because a woman’s hormone levels must fall within a desired range in order to continue with treatment.
·       Increase the number of follicles and improve the quality of eggs produced.   Obtaining enough good-quality eggs is the most important factor in determining whether or not IVF will be successful.
·       Increase the likelihood of implantation.  A study conducted in Germany found that women who underwent the traditional IVF protocol became pregnant at a rate of 26%.   Women who also received acupuncture in addition to the traditional treatment had a 43% rate of success.  These benefits were obtained using a uniform acupuncture treatment and only two treatments.  Some experts estimate that customized, consistent treatment coupled with herbal therapies could improve success rates to 75%.
·      Moderate the side effects of hormone therapy.  The medications given during ART are very powerful and can cause unwanted side effects such as hot flashes, irritability, labile mood, and insomnia.  Patients who have undergone ART without, and then with, acupuncture report that the side effects were either minimized or eliminated with the use of acupuncture.
·       Relieve stress.  IVF can be a very stressful course of events.  Acupuncture has been shown to increase the level of Beta-Endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemical) in the blood. 

Once a woman is pregnant, acupuncture can help:
·       Prevent miscarriage
·       Relieve morning sickness.  Anti-emetic (anti-nausea) medication can be sedating and can impair a woman’s ability to function and enjoy the highest quality of life possible.  Many women are reluctant to use harsh drugs when they are carrying a child.  Acupuncture and herbal teas can relieve morning sickness in the first trimester.  If the sickness continues past the 13th week, women should consult their physician.
·       Correct malposition of the fetus (Breech presentation).  When a baby is not aligned properly, it can cause the mother great discomfort.  Acupuncture and moxibustion can help to turn a breech presentation and correct a malpositioned fetus.  Note:  This should only be done under the supervision of a physician and with the use of ultrasound to ensure the umbilical chord does not get tangled.
·       Induce labor.  There are points that are forbidden to needle during pregnancy because of their known ability to induce labor.  Once a baby is full term, these points can be used to stimulate uterine contractions and induce labor without subjecting the mother and baby to drugs.
·       Provide anesthesia during labor.  Studies have shown that women who had acupuncture for anesthesia during delivery required significantly less pain medication and fewer epidurals.
·       Relieve post-partum pain and depression.  Help to get back to your old self. 
·       Promote lactation.  For instances where there is insufficient lactation

To learn more about how to enhance your fertility, read Fully Fertile: A holistic 12-week program to optimal fertility, co-authored by Jeanie Bussell

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