Acupuncture Treatment for Infertility
Answers to some common questions about infertility treatment with acupuncture.
When Should I Start Treatment?
When possible, its best to start treatment with TCM before you begin trying to conceive or undergo IUI or IVF. There are several reasons for this. One, studies show that it takes about 90 days to influence changes in a woman's menstrual cycle, such as improving ovulation and uterine lining, regulating hormones, regulating any problems with the actual cycle, and addressing situations such as PCOS or endometriosis. Two, it takes about 150 days for an egg to grow from a follicle in its resting state into a full-blown egg ready to be released (and follicles are selected from a pool of resting follicles almost a year before ovulation!).
However, most women don't find out about the benefits of TCM for infertility until they have already started trying to conceive or have started Western fertility treatments. In these cases, it's best to start treatment as soon as possible. It's never too late to start using TCM to improve your fertility.
How Long will I Need to Come for Treatments?
Because it takes 90-150 days to influence change in a woman's menstrual cycle, and because pregnancy does not normally occur in just one cycle of trying even under the best of circumstances (see Fertility Overview), the recommended course of treatment to achieve pregnancy is at least three to six months. This is a general time frame, however - some patients take less time to achieve pregnancy, and some take longer. Length of treatment and success varies for each individual and depends on the underlying fertility issue, among other factors. Success also depends on one's commitment to treatment - a patient who comes regularly for acupuncture, takes their herbs (if prescribed), follows the appropriate self-care measures at home, and makes diet and lifestyle changes will have a much better chance of becoming pregnant than a patient who does not take an active role in their treatment.
When you are trying to get pregnant, each passing month can seem like a wasted cycle, and three to six months or more can seem like a very long time. However, studies show that at least three months of preparation with TCM is optimal for a healthy pregnancy and baby. In TCM, no cycle is a "wasted" cycle. Each treatment strengthens your body and brings it closer to optimal reproductive health, a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby.
Do I Need to Take Herbs?
Herbal formulas are an important part of TCM fertility treatments. Herbs can help regulate the menstrual cycle and ovulation, thicken the uterine lining, regulate hormones, prevent certain types of miscarriage, and improve overall health. For these reasons, herbs are often recommended for fertility issues. However, some herbs may interfere with certain Western fertility medications and should be avoided. For this reason, herbal use is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In addition, many Western fertility specialists do not want their patients taking any types of herbs during their medicated cycles. When this is the case, herbs are not prescribed, or are used only before Western medications are started.
Should I continue Treatment if I get Pregnant?
Fertility means more than achieving pregnancy - once pregnant, your body needs to be able to nurture and support a pregnancy for nine months. Acupuncture has been shown to increase the rate of ongoing pregnancies, especially for those undergoing ART. In addition, well-pregnancy care can help with the common complaints of pregnancy and ensure an easier labor and delivery. For more information on acupuncture during pregnancy, please see the Pregnancy page.
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