- June 5, 2017
- Posted by: Sally Gole
- Category: Blog
For couples struggling to fall pregnant, or women who are suffering from recurrent miscarriages, the path to parenthood can be an emotional and stressful one.
The decision to undergo IVF treatment often comes after an extended period of anxiety and big emotions. Then, once treatment starts, the effects of fertility drugs can take a massive toll on any woman’s overall health and wellbeing.
So it’s not surprising that more and more couples are turning to complementary natural therapies like acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to support them in the process.
Chinese medicine has a long history of treating gynaecological issues, with the earliest records dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600-100BC). Over this time Chinese Medicine has developed a thorough process of diagnosing and treating fertility issues.
Where Western fertility treatments focus solely on a woman’s eggs and uterus, Chinese medicine works to balance the whole body, and sees every patient as an individual.
But a combination of acupuncture, dietary changes, lifestyle shifts and herbal supplementation, together with IVF treatment, can greatly increase a couple’s chances of success. In fact a 2016 British study, conducted at Homerton University Hospital, found the rates of success were twice as high among couples having acupuncture during IVF cycles.
Here are 3 of the ways Traditional Chinese Medicine can support you on your IVF Cycle:
1. Restores the body’s balance
A Chinese Medicine practitioner sees pain and illness as a sign that the body is out of balance. Treatment aims to restore the body’s equilibrium. The underlying principle of acupuncture is that the body’s primary organs use qui (pronounced chi) and meridians.
Qi is energy, while meridians are the pathways the body’s organs use to communicate with one another. In Chinese Medicine, when the body is healthy, the energy flows freely and the body resists disease. However, when the energy is weakened or becomes blocked, it can result in pain or illness.
Issues such as Endometriosis, Premenstrual Syndrome, period pain, and high levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) all point to an imbalance in the body. Imbalances that can be improved with Chinese Medicine, acupuncture and diet and lifestyle shifts.
2. Reduces anxiety and encourages relaxation
These days even doctors and scientists recognise that acupuncture can, at the very least, have a calming effect on patients. But Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners have known for centuries that acupuncture actually has a profound effect on body, mind, emotions and spirit, with the single goal of creating harmony and balance within the body.
From a Western standpoint, acupuncture works to alleviate stress by releasing natural painkillers called endorphins. It improves circulation of blood throughout the body by oxygenating the tissue, which helps to release toxins, and it’s calming effects decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.
When couples are undergoing invasive and stressful IVF treatments acupuncture is deeply healing and calming as well as being beneficial to fertility outcomes.
3. Supports the body to conceive
Acupuncture prepares the body for conception by boosting blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, which in turn can impact the quality of the woman’s egg. It can also enhance the ovarian response to the medications, increase follicular development, and encourages growth and egg maturation.
Acupuncture is a wonderful support in managing the side effects of IVF medications, which can include headaches, hot flushes, digestive upsets, anxiety and poor sleep. It also improves the quality of the uterine lining and positively impacts implantation and pregnancy rates.
When should I have acupuncture?
At a minimum we recommend acupuncture treatments a day or two after egg collection as well as the day of embryo transfer. However, it is best to come in a few months before you plan on commencing IVF so that we can prepare your body by detoxing your liver and improving your digestion so your body is better able to absorb nutrients. This works to improve your hormone profile and generally helps you stay calm and relaxed throughout your IVF journey.
For those considering taking the leap into IVF it is highly recommended that you look at natural approaches that include diet and lifestyle shifts, acupuncture and nutritional supplements, as these can make a big difference to your IVF outcomes and the chances of becoming a parent. You never know, you may even be able to increase your chances of conceiving naturally!
If you are in or around the Northern Beaches of Sydney area and need support on your IVF journey, contact us for more information or schedule an appointment and we can work together to help you meet your goals of conceiving.