Acupuncture for Infertility: Conventional and Alternative Fertility Treatment Options
Infertility is defined as the failure to become pregnant after one year of unprotected intercourse. There are two types of infertility; primary infertility, which is infertility without any previous pregnancy; and secondary infertility, when there has been a previous pregnancy.
What are the common causes of infertility?
- Ovulation problems
- Tubal causes
- Sperm causes
- Unexplained infertility
- Age-related factors
- Hormone imbalances and other gynecological conditions
Some less common causes are:
- Uterine problems
- Previous tubal ligation
- Previous vasectomy
- Various drugs
Taking the following steps may prevent some cases of female infertility:
- Avoid excessive exercise
- Avoid smoking
- Control diseases such as diabetes and hypothyroidism
- Follow good [weight management] guidelines
- Get early treatment for sexually transmitted diseases
- Have regular physical examinations to detect early signs of infections or abnormalities
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
- Practice stress management
- Use birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy and abortions.
How is the condition diagnosed?
Diagnosis of infertility begins with a medical history and physical exam. The healthcare provider may order tests, including the following:
- An endometrial biopsy, which tests the lining of the uterus
- Hormone testing, to measure levels of female hormones
- Laparoscopy, which allows the provider to see the pelvic organs
- Ovulation testing, which detects the release of an egg from the ovary
- Pap smear, to check for signs of infection
- Pelvic exam, to look for abnormalities or infection
- A postcoital test, which is done between 2 and 8 hours after intercourse to determine whether sperm can survive in the cervical mucus
What are the conventional medical approaches for this condition?
Treatment of infertility will depend on the cause. Medical treatment for female infertility may include:
- Surgery to treat certain problems (e.g., endometriosis)
- Taking antibiotics for sexually transmitted diseases
- Taking medications to cause ovulation, such as clomiphene and menotropins, artificial insemination (placing sperm directly in the cervix or uterus)
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (placing individual sperm cells directly inside the woman’s eggs)
- In vitro fertilization (fertilizing the egg outside the womb and then returning it to the uterus).
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Following are some of the side effects of medications used to cause ovulation:
- Abdominal pressure or fullness
- Cysts on the ovaries
- Headaches, hot flashes, mood changes
- Multiple pregnancies, such as twins or triplets
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which causes fluid shifts in the body
- Antibiotics may cause allergic reactions, stomach upset, and rash.
- Surgery carries a risk of bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to anesthesia and other rare but serious complications may be involved.
Is there any natural approach to enhance the chance of my pregnancy?
Depending on the cause of infertility, a natural approach is found to be very valuable. In many cases, the natural approach should be tried first before proceeding to drastic medical interventions, especially if you are in your twenties. The natural approach for female infertility may include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising in moderation
- Learning about the best time to conceive
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
- Making lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation
- Receiving a series of acupuncture treatments
How does acupuncture work for this condition?
Functional related infertility is very often related to stress. This may be the reason that infertility seems to be extremely common in women who work in stressful office environments. Acupuncture is very beneficial for decreasing excess tension in the body by balancing the autonomic nervous system. Possible hormonal imbalances and circulatory problems are also addressed by acupuncture.
What do I need to do prior to my appointment?
Before your appointment with me it is recommended that you first see your specialist and that your husband and you complete the tests to determine the possible cause of infertility. It is helpful if you bring all the previous medical reports and test results with you for the first consultation.
Most infertility patients are asked to record their basal body temperature every morning. A properly recorded basal temperature chart can give us a clue whether you are ovulating or not and the degree of hormonal imbalance. You will be asked to continuously record your basal temperature throughout the treatment process in order to evaluate your progress. If you have decided to receive the treatment you may request a basal temperature chart and instructions for recording by phone (416-929-6958) or e-mail.
Infertility General Information [Click here].
Case Report: Infertility & Acupuncture [Click here].
FAQ about Infertility & Acupuncture [Click here].
Acupuncture used as infertility therapy. [Click here].
Coordinating power of circadian rhythms keeps estrus and pregnancy on track. [Click here].
Research in Acupuncture, Infertility and IVF. [Click here].