Acupuncture can sound scary if you've never done it before or don't know much about it beyond the fact that it involves needles. But in reality, acupuncture needles are so thin that they barely cause a sensation at all, let alone pain. In fact, it's widely considered a very peaceful and relaxing experience. Nearly 3000 years old, this gentle treatment stimulates pressure points to treat a variety of health issues, both mental and physical, and the holistic roots of acupuncture are what make it so effective. And since it's relatively affordable and accessible in most cities, acupuncture is becoming particularly popular among people who are experiencing difficulty getting pregnant.
Numerous studies in the International Journal of Women's Health revealed that acupuncture may ease anxiety and regulate hormones, both of which play a role in becoming pregnant. In the hopes of helping first-timers navigate the process, we decided to research the ins and outs of how acupuncture can be used in conjunction with other forms of fertility treatments and spelled out the details so you know what to expect. Read through the pros and cons of acupuncture for fertility, plus the other reasons you may want to try this alternative treatment option, below.
Acupuncture is a holistic treatment, meaning it considers both the mental and physical profile of a patient. The needles are placed at specific pressure points to stimulate the release of hormones, which can aid in regulating menstruation and internal blood flow. Stress is also a big factor to think about when looking to get pregnant. One of the benefits of acupuncture more generally is that it reduces stress and anxiety by producing more endorphins.
It's also worth noting that the difficulty some people experience in trying to get pregnant could be one of the primary causes of increased anxiety. So even though acupuncture alone isn't going to make someone more fertile, it can help them cope with the variety of emotional challenges throughout the process.
Preparing for the Treatment
If you're on the fence or nervous about trying acupuncture, meet with a few acupuncturists beforehand to choose the right practice for you. If you feel comfortable with the physician, then the whole experience will be much more effective. You can expect them to ask you plenty of questions too, as they would with traditional Western medicine so that they understand your mindset, habits, lifestyle choices, and any predispositions you may have. This is a good step in the process to gauge your comfort level as well as how perceptive and insightful the physician is.
What to Expect During the Appointment
Once you're at the appointment, the acupuncturist will take your pulse and check out your tongue. These are two important steps in coming up with a diagnosis so they can better administer the treatment to your specific needs. Then the physician will place about two to 12 fine needles on your pressure points, depending on your needs.
There are other alternative therapies that acupuncturists can administer to stimulate the same pressure points if you are really afraid of needles. Some people may feel relaxed and fall asleep, while others may be really alert; it varies from person to person and appointment to appointment. (Appointments typically last about an hour.)
How You May Feel Post-Acupuncture
Once the physician removes the needles, they will discuss your follow-up appointments and possibly give you some natural supplements or suggest lifestyle adjustments to practice in between. You also may feel a bit out of it, as you would after a massage, since your internal system has been stimulated in a new way. And while there's no set number of appointments, acupuncture for fertility is most effective when you're also doing other treatments like IVF. So each person should work with both of their doctors to come up with a plan catered to their health profile and progress.
So Should You Try It?
While there may not be a definitive opinion as to whether or not acupuncture alone can ensure pregnancy, it doesn't have any negative side effects associated with fertility. It's also much more accessible and affordable than other Western medical treatments. Plus, the other health benefits of acupuncture will likely ease the emotional distress or sleeplessness that often accompany infertility and delays in becoming pregnant.
If you feel that adding an extra appointment during your busy days will only cause more stress or you aren't interested in financially investing, then it probably isn't for you. As with any medical evaluation and care, it's completely up to you and you alone. Once you feel informed, trust yourself to make a sound medical decision that feels right for you.
If you have ever tried acupuncture for fertility or any other reason and feel comfortable sharing your own takeaways or tips, leave them in the comments below.