By Geoff DePaula
In the past few years, acupuncture has gotten a great deal of attention for its ability to enhance the potential for a successful pregnancy in conjunction with western fertility treatments. However, it is also extremely helpful in assisting in the fertility process when couples are trying to get pregnant naturally. It is always preferable to have the opportunity to work with women or couples prior to them seeking western fertility treatments, as we are often able to identify and help people resolve the obstacles to pregnancy.
Often, couples seek medical help and find that all of the screening tests are normal and that their fertility is unexplained. This is where Chinese Medicine really shines. When obstacles are not quantifiable by western medical standards, we don’t consider them to be organic problems, but rather energetic problems. There may a history of difficult or painful periods, irregular, scanty or heavy periods, or a long history of birth control pill use, and other signs of things not flowing smoothly in the system. It is in correcting these things through treatment, dietary changes, exercise and possibly some home treatments that we frequently find women are able to get pregnant without much trouble.
We understand that many couples are in a position where they feel a sense of urgency to proceed with fertility treatments due to a variety of factors. We are very familiar with the fertility protocols (IVF, IUI, etc.), and have our own protocols that work beautifully in conjunction with the western treatments. We have found that acupuncture has the ability to decrease the side effects of the treatments and to increase the potential for a successful and healthy pregnancy when going through fertility treatments.
The stress that is associated with an inability to get pregnant is overwhelming, and has been compared to that of someone with a life threatening illness. Many women experience anxiety, stress, sleep disturbance, emotional ups and downs, depression, and despair about their situations. Acupuncture treatments can dramatically reduce the intensity of these experiences.
In my many years of doing fertility work, it has been my experience that regardless of the explanation for infertility, it is largely women who seek treatment. In the past couple of years, we have suggested that women bring their husbands in for a full evaluation as well, and have found that often they will benefit from treatment, and that pregnancy occurs more quickly with these couples. This is because male factor infertility is the cause 40% of the time. There are occasions when an evaluation of the male partner does not yield recommendation for treatment, but it is worth having the entire situation carefully explored.