Friday, November 10, 2006

Fertility Acupuncture Basics

I have been getting a lot of questions about using acupuncture/herbs/traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for fertility, so I thought I'd pull together a basic for-your-information-only post (i.e., I'm not a health professional and these are my suggestions but I always exhort you to check with your own healthcare providers...)

What is fertility acupuncture/TCM?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has conducted clinical studies on acupuncture and determined that infertility/fertility is one condition (among others) that acupuncture appears to effectively treat. The mechanisms are not entirely clear, but their studies have shown that acupuncture can increase bloodflow to the uterus as well as help balance the hormonal system.

Fertility is actually a subspecialty of general acupuncture, so someone (like my late father, for example) who mainly treats pain may not be well versed in fertility issues.

Fertility acupuncture strives to balance menstrual cycle, and therefore, the treatments (and/or herbs) should differ during different parts of your cycle. If the practioner just does the "same-old same-old" each time, it may be a sign he or she may be less knowledgeable in this area.

How long does it take?

TCM aims for balance and not quick fixes. The practioner should be able to tell you when he or she thinks your body is ready. It will take at least one cycle to observe the menses, and it's possible you might need two, four, six, even nine months of treatment depending on your underlying issues. It is also possible the practioner may feel your partner needs to be treated as well.

NOTE: there are some problems, like blocked fallopian tubes, that acupuncture cannot treat, and therefore it's always good to explore all therapies in conjunction with your healthcare provider.

Does acupuncture help ART/IVF?

Yes, it is not an either/or choice with Artificial Reproductive Technology. Acupuncture can help you reduce stress and help you body prepare for a favorable implantation scenario. You'll need to coordinate things with your practioner.

How do I find a good acupuncturist?

Word of mouth is one. You can inquire at the OB/GYN department of a local hospital.

Another good place to start is the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), a nonprofit informational clearinghouse and licensing organization.


Anonymous said...

One thing I love about being reproductively challenged is that it has been a blessing in disguise and has led me to better my health before having a child. I'm very thrilled to be doing "Fertility TCM" at this moment and after 3 months I am seeing changes. I am no longer the coldest person in the room - I've always had those cold hands/feet that made me feel cold to my bones. My energy level is better and what up with my moods? I feel a bit more sane.

One thing I've read about TCM is that it can be difficult to gather statistics on because TCM defintely depends on having a good practitioner. I'm sure some are better than others so a bit of shopping around could be a good idea if anyone is interested in this. I definitely wouldn't just walk into the first accupuncture storefront one sees.


Anonymous said...

Dear Marie,

My name is Darcih; I´m from Brazil and am trying to get in contact with Marla Sweeney, MDR. She works with acumpuncture and was in Brazil four year ago, but we lost contact. I guess all MDR. who works with acumpuncture are registered under an association. So, I ask you to, please, be kind enough to send me the details of such association, or any other useful way to find her, you believe easier. She lives in California. That´s all I can say. Some friends are asking about her too.

Thank you so much for your kindness.

Darcih Kiss

Anonymous said...

Please send me the recipe for the "cookies"--they were yummy! It was fun to hang out with you guys over the weekend. I look forward to seeing a post of Jason's rejuvenated quilt and sweat pants. We should do more recycled craft projects together. Once my craft room is really up and running, we will have more space.

GreenFertility said...

Ali, Yes, I'm feeling better, too! Plus my menses are getting stronger as well. (But my @#_)$(%&#$& hands and feet are still very cold.)

I think you can think if it as your baby's (wherever, however) gift to you....

Yes, finding a good practitioner is difficult. This org. was recommended by my other acupuncturist, and when I did a local search, I saw that all the local people, whom I know are "good" were all on it...


GreenFertility said...


Did you try that site I listed?

GreenFertility said...


the recipe is coming! I just have to remember what we did...


Anonymous said...

I have a friend who had 4 miscarriages, then started acupuncture, and now has 2 lovely children. So it definitely works!

GreenFertility said...

Thanks for the comment--I love hearing stories like that!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this blog and the article. I am definitely considering acupuncture. I know you are not big fan of IVF... I am considering acupuncture combined with IVF. What are your thoughts on this approach?

Anonymous said...

Me again...
Here is another good website about acupuncture and IVF.
I am 39 and have a high FSH... the doctors say that the only chance for me to conceive is IVF...

GreenFertility said...

Hi Paula,

If one IS going to do IVF I think acupuncture would be a great thing to add on...if anything, to reduce stress! In fact, someone who's a regular reader of GreenFertility got pregnant with exactly IVF and acunpuncture and it was exciting to be a bystander to that.

I'm not against IVF per se but against its's a real cash cow for fertility docs, so that opens it to some problems PLUS if you look at some of the other posts, you'll (I think Win Free Sex was one of them) you'll see that the #s going IVF versus going bareback ain't that difference. Then again, the reader DID get pg. with's all a matter of what's best for YOU.

GreenFertility said...

Pauls, re: FSH, then you MUST read INCONCEIVABLE (reviewed on the site). Her FSH was 42!!! And of course the doc said the same thing to her. And of course she got pregnant. Bec. of my age (42) I've had people say they won't even look at me unless I consider donor eggs...I kenw that was bullsh*t. I know I'm ovulating and I've already gotten pregnant accidentally (last month, miscarried).

Follow your gut...or ovaries. And really, read the book--it should be your holiday treat.

Anonymous said...

One of the leading authorities in Vedic or Egyptian Acupuncture is Debra Arko. She trained with a Hindu swami since she was in her teens and has over 30 years in natural health care including holding a degree in Chinese Medicine and Homeopathy. Her company Accent On Health, LLC is based in Littleton Colorado where she still practices alternative health care.

Anonymous said...

Related to infertility, acupuncture can also improve a woman's health to decrease the following fertility conditions:
* Stress
* Elevated FSH
* Endometriosis
* Poor Response to ART stimulation
* Habitual Miscarriage
* Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
* Auto Immune Antibodies

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Anonymous said...

You can't say acupuncture works every time, but it certainly raises the chance of conception. For some, the chances are high, for others it's not as effective. But for those willing to try different things, acupuncture is an excellent alternative. If you live in CA, Dr. Ryu is well-known in Burank. Call him at (818) 841-9790.