Acupuncture and Fertility: Not As Strange a Pair of Bedfellows As You Might Think
Acupuncture has existed in China as an established and trusted practice for between four and five thousand years and in England, France, and Germany for several centuries. In the United States, however, acupuncture has only been viewed as a legitimate alternative to western medicine for the past two decades or so. Acupuncture originates from a holistic, energy-based system of medicine, unlike western medicine, which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of specific diseases. While there are many competing theories about how acupuncture works, most studies have concluded that, for whatever reason, it is effective in the treatment of a variety of ailments, one of which is infertility.
If you are considering acupuncture as a fertility treatment, you need to know how it can help you, particularly if other, more conventional treatments have failed.
Acupuncture is most effective when a structural, rather than a functional, problem is the primary cause of infertility. This means that acupuncture will more likely be useful in regulating an irregular pattern of ovulation or a dysfunction in blood flow to the reproductive organs than it will be if the problem is a blocked fallopian tube or a low sperm count. Individual results, however, can vary.
A German study undertaken in 2002 suggested that acupuncture paired with in vitro fertilization produces significantly better results than in vitro fertilization by itself. Although the sample consisted of a group of only 116 women undergoing IVF treatments, the results suggest that the use of acupuncture as a supplemental procedure could increase the likelihood of impregnation and decrease the risk of miscarriage.
Acupuncture is not painful; indeed, it is actually a very relaxing treatment. Many patients have reported experiencing only a slight stinging sensation during their first treatment and then little discomfort during their subsequent treatments. In addition, the risk of negative side effects with acupuncture is very low. While acupuncture may not always help you, it is extremely unlikely to harm you.
Infertility treatments through acupuncture take place over the course of several sessions. Treatment is very individualistic because acupuncture focuses on treating the person rather than the symptom. Many practioners think of their techniques as a form of therapy, so don’t be surprised if a lot of time is spent talking about your emotional as well as your physical health.
It is a testament to how accepted acupuncture has become in the American medical community that many practicing physicians are also licensed acupuncturists. Indeed, your local hospital is one of the best places to find an experienced acupuncturist who is qualified to treat infertility.
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