Before you read this article, please ask yourself the following questions first:
oHow long have I been trying to get pregnant? oDo I have a history of “normal” periods? oDo I ever experience cramping?Do I ever experience clotting when I menstruate? oAre my periods regular or are they sometimes early or late? oHave I had a successful pregnancy and birth before? oDo I have any other medical issues? -Once you’ve answered all these questions, I can guarantee that no two people will have the same responses for all of the questions.So then, ask yourself, “how can your treatments be the same?”IVF, GIFT, ZIFT and other Assisted Reproductive technologies are wonderful technological advances but if the root of your issue isn’t resolved how can conception or pregnancy be successful?
-My main reason for asking the above questions is because I want you to acknowledge the fact that not every woman is the same.Her situation, history, lifestyle, diet, exercise etc. are all different.Therefore it is only natural that her treatment be different.
Acupuncture is based in the Chinese belief that a balance in the energy flow (known as qi pronounced chi) through the body is needed in order to stay healthy. When a blockage or imbalance occurs in that flow, your health is negatively impacted. There are 12 major pathways that qi is believed to travel along. These pathways, or meridians, are accessible through 400 different acupuncture points.
Based on the problem you’re experiencing, different combinations of points are stimulated using acupuncture needles. These sterile, thin needles vary in length according to which point it is to be inserted into. On average the needle is inserted approximately ½ inch in most areas. By stimulating these points, energy flow is rebalanced and your body’s natural healing ability begins.
The practice of acupuncture remains somewhat controversial among Westerners. Because modern scientific thought can’t explain just how acupuncture works, many refuse to believe that this ancient medicine is anything more than a bunch of hocus pocus. The fact that the energy pathways don’t actually correspond to any recognized body system (like the blood or nervous system) only increases people’s skepticism.
However, the National Institutes of Health in the United States has recognized that acupuncture effectively treats many ailments such as pain, digestive disorders, stress, chronic fatigue, etc.the NIH has also funded many studies to uncover how acupuncture really works.Some possible theories as to just why acupuncture works include:
Changes to the central nervous system during acupuncture sessions alter the regulation of blood pressure and flow as well as body temperature.
Acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system causing neurotransmitters and neurohormones to be released, thereby boosting your body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Acupuncture reduces pain by releasing the endorphins, which naturally occur in the body’s pain control system, into the central nervous system.
Regardless of just how it works, the fact remains that it is a relatively painless procedure with minimal side effects when done by a professional. Some rare risks associated with acupuncture include puncturing the organs, transmitting infectious diseases, broken or forgotten needles and minor bleeding. However, going to a fully trained and certified practitioner significantly reduces these risks. Acupuncture should not be performed on people with bleeding disorders or those using blood thinners.
Acupuncture and Infertility On its own, acupuncture can be seen as an alternative way of treating fertility problems. It is also often seen as a complementary therapy to modern fertility treatments. Some practitioners will also recommend Chinese herbs for infertility that will supplement the acupuncture and any other treatment you may be receiving. If you take herbs while receiving other medical treatments, be sure to tell your doctor. Though rare, there is a possibility that some herbs or supplements can interfere with the function of fertility drugs and procedures.
Why acupuncture works for infertility problems is still debatable. However, most practicing acupuncturists say that acupuncture helps by regulating your body’s system. This aids in blood flow to the reproductive organs and stabilizes hormone levels. This in turn will increase ovarian function in women as well as sperm production in men.
Used as a complementary form of therapy for women undergoing other fertility treatments, acupuncture has been proven to be especially beneficial. Some believe that acupuncture works by helping women stay more relaxed through stressful fertility treatments. In particular, studies have shown that acupuncture definitely increases the rate of pregnancy in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF).
A German study done in 2002 showed that of the 80 women who underwent IVF and received acupuncture, 34 women got pregnant, a success rate of 42.5%. Of the 80 women involved in the study who received IVF without any acupuncture treatments, only 21 women (26.3%) became pregnant. More recently, an American study involving 114 women showed that 51% of the women who had acupuncture and IVF treatments became pregnant versus only 36% of the women who had IVF alone. Deeper analysis of this study revealed that, while 8% of the women in the acupuncture group miscarried, the rate of miscarriage in the IVF-only group was 20%. Furthermore, women who received acupuncture also had lower rates of ectopic pregnancies.
However, before a woman proceeds with a costly procedure like IVF, I strongly recommend that women first look at their menstruation.In Chinese Medicine an important indicator of a woman’s overall health is the physiology of her menstrual cycle.
According to the: Western Medicine perspective:menstrual cycle occurs every 21-36 days and lasts 3-7 days with the woman losing an average amount of 30-80 ml.The color is usually dark-red, lighter at the beginning, deep in the middle, and pinkish at the end of the period.
Chinese Medicine perspective: Normal range is 26-32 days.Regularity of the cycle is all-important.If the cycle varies from month to month, this would be considered abnormal even if it fell within the 26-32 days range.However, if the period occurs regularly every 32 days, this would be considered normal.Similarly, Chinese Medicine would consider duration 4-6 days for menstruation as more “normal” than 3-7 days.Also, clotting, cramping, spotting, odor of the blood, watery or sticky blood or dark brown blood is considered abnormal.Any of these symptoms are considered abnormal and should be addressed.
Main etiological factors of menstrual disorders are: - Medical:contraceptives, which is a form of hormone that prevents ovulation and causes imbalances in the endocrine system throughout the body.
-Physiological: work, school, family, and social stressors lead to pituitary imbalances
-Personal habits:unrestricted activity levels, excess sexual activity, sexual abuse, overconsumption of cold & or raw foods and liquids, extended use of tampons.
Chinese Medicine has always emphasized that it is important for women to take extra care during their periods and after childbirth. During the period, the Uterus is in a vulnerable state because it is open; moreover, the loss of blood induces a state of relative Blood deficiency and therefore any etiological factor at this time easily influences Blood, causing deficiency or stagnation.
Finding An Acupuncturist Many medical doctors utilize acupuncture in their everyday practice. These doctors need only 200 hours of acupuncture training to be allowed to practice on people. However, there are many more professionals who specialize just in acupuncture or Chinese Medicine. These individuals have between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of training and have completed board exams to receive their certification. Regardless of which type of professional you prefer, there are some things to keep in mind when deciding on who to see.
Always check that a potential acupuncturist has the appropriate training and certification as mandated by your state (the requirements can vary depending on where you live). Ask your friends and family if there is anyone they would recommend or call your insurance company for referrals. And don’t forget to inquire about the cost of the treatment. Some insurance plans cover acupuncture treatments, so you may want to look into that as well.
Acupuncture is not a one-time procedure, though. You will need to see your acupuncturist once or twice a week for a series of weeks or possibly even months. A series of up to 12 treatments is normal. Each appointment will take about an hour and should include time for an exam and discussion of your current condition, things you can do yourself at home and any questions you may have.
Information on the author:
Satori Poch, L.Ac. is a native to Richmond, VA.She recently moved back to Richmond after living in San Francisco and China for the past 5 years.She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of William and Mary and received her 4 year post graduate degree from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco.Afterward she pursued an advanced degree at Zhejiang Medical University in Hangzhou, China in Women’s Health, Dermatology, Internal Medicine and Tuina Massage Therapy.