When a couple decide to have a baby, the journey normally starts out with great excitement. When months and sometimes years role over without success, anxiety and frustration often start to set. This stress can be further compounded by other issues such as time pressure, due to age, and other medical issues which may be playing a part for either one of the two parties.
Such stress can also influence ones fertility and while I tell my patients not to worry, this I know is easier said than done. Many women I treat for infertility express concerns about their stress levels and what impact this has on their infertility. Stress definitely does play a role in fertility for a variety of reasons including for example causing hormonal imbalances. Studies also suggest that infertility can cause women to feel isolated, angry, frustrated and have an overwhelming sense of being out of control. 1.
After a period of time couples may decide that IVF is an option for them and they start the grueling process of hormone injections and blood testing. Stress with this method does not diminish but in fact intensifies and therefore also managing anxiety during the IVF treatment should be of paramount importance.
At home I suggest to my patients that meditative methods of exercise such as Tai Qi or Qi Gong are very helpful in reducing anxiety. Acupuncture is also an essential treatment in supporting IVF. Studies have proven that acupuncture around the time of implantation and transfer significantly increase the success rate of the IVF treatment.
When I am treating patients with infertility, who are also doing IVF treatment, then I tend to work around the IVF cycle. Regular acupuncture treatments can improve reproductive hormones, ovarian function, and therefore will be helpful during the stimulation phase as well as during implantation where acupuncture helps the blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Beside this role, acupuncture can also assist in other issues such as digestive problems, sleep and headaches.
I sometimes also find it helpful to treat the partner. He too may be feeling anxious and a man’s lifestyle is just as important as a woman’s when it comes to fertility. Diet, BMI, alcohol, smoking and stress can all have an effect on fertility, as well as too high temperatures. So men should stay out of the sauna. Studies also suggest that the use of acupuncture together with Chinese herbs can also improve sperm quality.
When treating a patient going through IVF I have to take a number of issues into consideration. Taking the patients’ medical history gives me an insight into the core reason for the patients’ infertility. Although the treatment is going to be combined with IVF there is no reason why certain TCM protocols should not be used in a traditional manner. Therefore acupuncture points are chosen according to the diagnosis I have made. These points will be combined with points that would assist in the IVF treatment. I have personally had a lot of success with this combination of both eastern and western methods.
For couples who are going through the IVF process, acupuncture will increase your chance of success and will further help you cope with this arduous journey.
It is important to find body and brain balance so as to not inhibit your fertility.