In the UK alone, one in eight women have experienced infertility with many struggling to get pregnant for at least a year.
And, according to a new study, almost half do not seek help.
Fertility issues can affect both men and women, but with women it is often caused by problems with ovulation.
When it does not occur, there are no eggs to be fertilised and women experiencing this issue will often notice that they have irregular menstrual periods, or none, for some months.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Primary Ovarian insufficiency are some of the most common conditions that can cause fertility issues.
There are also a few less common problems, such as blocked fallopian tubes because of endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, surgery, uterus problems and uterine fibroids.
With this in mind, many women have turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine, specifically acupuncture, to aid their fertility journey.
Acupuncture has been widely valued for its therapeutic and relaxation benefits, but fertility acupuncture can also assist those struggling to conceive.
According to the Pacific College of Health & Science, when used in conjunction with Western fertility treatments such as IVF, acupuncture increases conception rates by 26 per cent.
Fertility acupuncture focuses on needling a handful of key points on the body at different moments in time, both before and after the use of IVF.
By using acupuncture for its complementary effects, women can potentially increase their fertility by reducing stress and promoting relaxation in the mind and body.
Stress is well-documented as preventing women from ovulating, often causing spasms in the uterus and fallopian tubes making implantation more difficult.
Acupuncture may also help to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, in turn allowing for a stronger chance of an egg implanting, being nourished and successfully carried to term.
Fertility acupuncture can also aid in balancing the endocrine system, a series of glands which produce and secrete hormones that the body uses for a variety of functions, including fertility.
Is it safe?
When carried out by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is generally seen as safe and has few risks, often being used in conjunction with other western treatments and medicines for a range of ailments.
Fertility acupuncture is safe and gentle, producing very few (or no) side effects.
Occasionally, patients will experience some very mild, short-term pain or bruising where the hair-thin needles have been inserted.
It has not been noted to produce any adverse effects to IVF treatments, nor to harm the overall health of individuals looking to boost fertility.
How many sessions does it take?
It is impossible to provide an exact number for how many acupuncture sessions it will require when it comes to fertility acupuncture.
It will ultimately depend on an individual’s needs, mental and physical health, lifestyle, other ongoing treatments, and how they respond.
It is however recommended by practitioners that when acupuncture sessions are started, they remain consistent. Weekly sessions are advised and with acupuncture being accumulative, it naturally has better outcomes for patients that commit to their sessions for a set period of time.
Does it work without IVF?
According to the NHS website which documents Acupuncture IVF success: “Acupuncture can increase the chances of getting pregnant for women undergoing fertility treatment by 65 per cent.” Although many couples turn to IVF, and use fertility acupuncture in conjunction with western treatments to aid their efforts to conceive, it is not always necessary.
Couples are increasingly realising that it is unlikely they will receive the help they need solely from the NHS in terms of fertility treatments.
There is often a wait of up to two years for a single round of IVF, and there are many different criteria that must be met to even qualify.
Underlying health conditions, age and existing children from the other partner, can all exclude couples from using IVF on the NHS.
Acupuncture can be used as a safer and more affordable alternative that takes a more gentle approach to the body, working with its natural rhythms to aid fertility without the use of IVF.
Acupuncture That Works has worked with many couples over the years using fertility acupuncture and have been privileged to witness the birth of many happy and healthy babies.
Get in touch
Acupuncture can be beneficial in supporting couples through what can be an extremely stressful and tense time of their lives. Whether it is emotionally, mentally or physically, acupuncture can be used to help patients struggling with more than just fertility issues.
At Acupuncture That Works, our qualified practitioners use the Paulus Protocol** (more information can be found here), which was first reported back in 2001 and came from a randomised clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness of Acupuncture on pregnancy rates.
If you would like to find out more about how Acupuncture could be part of your fertility programme then why not give us a call on 0800 051 76 88 and find out more?
** Disclaimer: At Acupuncture That Works we are conscious that there are lots of claims made about the results that people can get from using Acupuncture. To be clear, we aim to make no such claims ourselves. We will never claim that Acupuncture will work within a specified time nor that it will bring a specified result. We can say that is possible to deliver short term improvement and short term relief in certain circumstances. It is not and never will be, a miracle cure.