For many couples, starting a family and having children of their own is an essential part of a fulfilling life. Yet, nearly 13% of couples in the USA have difficulty conceiving, due to either female or male infertility, or both. About 12% of women have difficulty getting pregnant and carrying the pregnancy to term. Some couples faced with infertility choose acupuncture to enhance health and support their efforts to have a baby.
Female fertility is complex, and can be influenced by many factors related to lifestyle, health status, and age. Smoking, excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, stress levels, nutritional choices, and toxic exposure can all influence fertility. Medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, uterine fibroids, endometriosis and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) can interfere with fertility. Obesity, diabetes and some autoimmune disorders can make it harder for a woman to conceive. Aging leads to a decline in the quality and quantity of eggs. For women who are hoping to boost their fertility, a series of acupuncture treatment sessions may offer a natural and effective way to support a successful pregnancy.
What the Research Shows
While more extensive research is needed to gain a better understanding of how acupuncture may affect fertility in women, early studies are promising. According to a 2016 study, infertile women—those who had been actively trying to conceive for at least 12 months—who received three months of targeted lifestyle intervention in addition to weekly acupuncture sessions conceived within 5.5 weeks on average, in comparison to 10.67 weeks for women who received the lifestyle intervention only.
There is also evidence that acupuncture can benefit fertility indirectly, by helping to address some of related health issues, such as PCOS and thyroid disorders. Acupuncture also helps reduce anxiety and stress levels, which may make it easier for some women to conceive.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries in China to treat women’s reproductive health issues, including fertility. Historical records date back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). While more scientific research is always desirable, it’s worth considering the extensive historical use.
How Acupuncture Enhances Female Fertility
Research studies suggest that acupuncture promotes fertility by helping to regulate uterine and ovarian blood flow. This encourages a thicker uterine wall which enhances embryo implantation. Acupuncture may also stimulate the release of hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle and influence ovulation. Acupuncture also increases endorphin levels, which can indirectly influence fertility and reduce stress levels.
In addition to promoting fertility in women, regular acupuncture sessions can relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress—all of which are known to negatively impact fertility and conception. Once you become pregnant, you may find that acupuncture treatment can alleviate morning sickness, fatigue, and other unwanted physical symptoms associated with pregnancy. Whether you have been trying to conceive for several months, or you simply want to learn more about how acupuncture treatment sessions can positively affect your fertility, it’s worth it to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable acupuncture practitioner to discuss your goals.