Many people enjoy exploring more traditional or ‘natural’ approaches to their medical treatment. From aromatherapy to traditional Chinese medicine, there are many ways to compliment any therapy you may be receiving through a more holistic means. When talking about fertility and fertility treatment, this is even more common, as many people experiencing problems with conception will often seek the opinion of others by consulting forums, reading the latest medical news or by talking with friends and relatives. It is often the case that from this last route they will hear many rumors and “old wives tales” passed down of easy and natural methods to help improve their chances of falling pregnant.
These can range from changes in diet to natural supplements and herbal teas to physical therapies and exercises, even different ways of having sex. However, one such avenue of approach has seen a leap in popularity in recent years due to the rising interest in Chinese medicine, and we are of course talking about acupuncture. It has become so popular that some IVF Clinics and fertility treatment clinics offer these services as an optional complimentary treatment to their main medical treatment. In this article, we will explore just how much acupuncture can affect fertility treatment.
What is Acupuncture?
Most of us have seen or at least have an idea of what acupuncture involves, but for the unaware, it is a traditional Chinese treatment in which extremely thin needles are inserted into the skin at precise points on the body. The theory states that all medical problems in the body are caused by blockages and disruption of energy throughout the body, called “qi”. The needles are supposed to stimulate these energy points under the skin and help the energy flow correctly around the body, thus helping to alleviate the symptoms of the illness.
However, the acupuncture that the vast majority of practitioners in modern medical facilities and fertility clinics is very different from what would’ve been found in ancient China. For years doctors and medical scientists have been trying to work out the link between peoples claims of efficacy and whether it is actually linked to the acupuncture itself. So much so that a number of studies have been released recently that help underlines the potential benefits of acupuncture to IVF treatment. The results of these studies have surprised many in the medical community and have in recent years gained credibility as a legitimate complimentary treatment to many fertility treatments.
How can it help fertility treatments?
The textbook definition of infertility is the inability for a man and a woman to conceive a baby after a year of consecutive unprotected intercourse. Proponents of acupuncture will claim that the acupuncture can help these various reproductive issues by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs with the correct placement of needles and that the treatment can help balance hormones that are vital to reproductive health. As it stands at the moment however, there is no definitive evidence that acupuncture can have a direct effect on a person’s fertility. With one study in 2018 performing both real and “mock” acupuncture on women undergoing a live birth. The results that came back from both groups found negligible differences among those receiving the real and mock acupuncture.
However, both practitioners and those who promote acupuncture for IVF will cite that the treatment helps to bring balance to your body and gives it the best possible chance to become pregnant. Acupuncture is considered a perfectly safe avenue of treatment for a potentially pregnant woman to pursue and many people benefit the release of energy that could potentially be blocking critical points in their bodies. Certainly, many who undergo acupuncture will cite an increase in vigor and energy levels and a general feeling of wellbeing that many acupuncturists will regard as a demarcation of the success of their treatment.
Ultimately, as stated before there is no solid evidence to support a direct link between acupuncture sessions and a noted increase in fertility rates. Many doctors will argue that it is important to be realistic with the potential of any treatment and at this point in time, at least from the western medical perspective, acupuncture just doesn’t have the critical evidence it needs to support the efficacy of its claims. But most doctors would not necessarily advise against acupuncture as a complementary treatment to a medical issue, so long as a proper course of medical treatment was also being adhered to at the same time.
Many doctors regard placebos as a misleading, but the not altogether unhealthy effect of the human mind on the body and anything that can improve a patient’s condition even slightly is valued by medical practitioners.
However, those that support traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture believe that western medicine is too closed minded to techniques once valued by generations past, and will cite a long and prosperous history of the procedure throughout Asia as a sign that it must have helped to some degree to become this popular. They also talk about how Chinese medicine is not just about treating one problem and that people are taken as individuals with different bodies. And naturally, the treatment recommended by a practitioner would differ from person to person.
It is really up to the individual to consider these alternative treatments and evaluate for themselves whether they think it is an avenue worth exploring.
We here at First Fertility do not offer acupuncture ourselves, however, being a leading IVF clinic in Bangkok, a city with a massive Chinese population, can help counsel you further if you would like to explore these options in conjunction with your treatments with us.
We pride ourselves on being as accommodating as possible to your wishes and can help you find whatever you need to make your treatments with us as hassle-free and easy as possible. For more information on how we can help you explore your fertility treatment options, please contact us here.