Acupuncture and My Fertility… A personal experience by Camille Thomas
Growing up, I didn’t know much about natural health or alternative treatments such as acupuncture or what it was used for. I also never expected that I would face difficulty getting pregnant in my 20’s. All I knew is that when people have issues with fertility they went to a hospital and that was the only option. I had seen movies where a person gets acupuncture treatment but I was still confused and it looked like a painful and extreme process of getting poked with needles all over the body. I never grasped what were the benefits or the healing effects of receiving such a treatment until hospital and doctor’s visits were no longer helping me on my difficult journey to get pregnant.
I was also never given information about natural or Eastern alternatives by my doctors. They suggested one medication or surgery after another. I knew those were routes I did not want to take, but after seven years of only getting pregnant once and miscarrying, I was heartbroken yet becoming desperate and more broken mentally. I was strongly considering trusting in the advice of my doctors and taking an ovarian stimulant. I gave myself one last chance to find another option before going ahead with it.
I didn’t know anyone personally who got acupuncture nor had I ever noticed any acupuncture offices in my neighborhood. Alternative or Eastern medicine just wasn’t a conversation that was close to me so I didn’t even consider it. But going through the experience of not being able to conceive naturally for several years took me outside of conventional advice and practices.
I remember watching reruns of a popular Tv show and often and resonating with one of the main characters. After trying for a long time, the character and her husband were having difficulties getting pregnant. I could relate to the misery she felt and the emotional demand that came with continuous disappointments and keeping my hopes up that I’d soon get a positive pregnancy test. In one episode, the main character discussed visiting an acupuncturist to help her get pregnant. I don’t remember if the acupuncture was helpful to her in becoming pregnant, but it put a spark in me to do some research and learn all about it.
That episode was a turning point for me and put the idea in my head to find an acupuncturist near me right away. Luckily I was able to find a clinic that actually specializes in fertility. I was living in Denver, Colorado at the time and felt very optimistic about finding a practitioner. I found Acupuncture Denver, and made a consultation appointment. I met with Jane who was so empathetic to everything I was going through. During my first few appointments, we discussed stress areas in my life, how to relinquish them and she even made a meal plan for me to help me eat cleaner and increase my chances even more at getting pregnant. That meal plan later helped me transition into a plant-based diet which I also believe was a critical factor in conceiving.
I was relieved to know there were other options that didn’t involve me taking harmful medications or listening to more unhelpful advice that didn’t take in to account all areas of my life. Our bodies and its energy systems work together holistically. So when trying to get pregnant, it’s so important to consider all areas of life that could be blocking your chances. Acupuncture that specialized in fertility and plant-based eating were my methods to finally getting pregnant after seven years of trying, but the point is that there are so many other ways of healing that don’t involve invasive treatments or synthetic medicines. It’s good to know we can safely keep trying.
When you appreciate the natural options available and keep the faith, it’s much easier to have an open mind about your future and what is possible.
What is acupuncture for fertility?
Acupuncture is an alternative medicine approach in which practitioners use specialized needles inserted into the skin to stimulate different points of the body.
There are acupuncture points on the body that are connected and network with other reproductive organs in the body. If the network of a reproductive organ is blocked, an acupuncture needle is inserted into a point on the body that influences the energy that flows to that organ. This network is called the meridian pathway. The practitioners focus on these points that stimulate the reproductive organs in order to bring energy flow back to those areas.
Acupuncture practitioners suggest acupuncture to boost fertility because it reduces stress and increases blood flow to reproductive organs. Several studies show that acupuncture restores fertility including a couple trying to conceive for a year that had great results in restoring fertility in the man by improving the sperm quality and woman by improving the ovaries function and balancing her endocrine system and hormones. There are also studies that do not support acupuncture as a complementary tool to get pregnant, but what’s the harm if there are no serious side effects.
When we understand that we have the power to seek and obtain knowledge about healing and to decide to do what’s best for our own bodies then we can start to empower ourselves and release the mental anguish that comes with infertility.
What is an acupuncture treatment like?
Before my experience at Acupuncture Denver, I didn’t know what to expect. Jane and Merry were the acupuncturists I worked with and were always so understanding and empathetic to my emotions during each visit. My treatment felt customized because my lifestyle was taken into account. They asked about my health history, work, diet, cycles, my husband’s work life balance and other factors that pertained to my mind, body and spirit. We kept track of changes in most areas of my life. They also taught me how to track my ovulation cycle.
Each visit we discussed what changes I noticed and unique things going on in my life that could benefit or harm my chances of getting pregnant. They would proceed to place the needles in different parts of my body the stimulated my reproductive organs. I frequently remember getting needles in my ankles, arms, ears, third eye and top of my head during my visits. I felt no pain from the needles. I also remember being told that placing the needles around my womb such as my arms, legs and head and not directly on my stomach would bring the energy to my womb. Days after receiving the treatment I would also get an intense feeling in my abdomen that was non-painful yet kind of difficult to explain. The best way I can describe it is like a feeling of adrenaline in my stomach. This feeling was confirmation that stagnant energy was moving within my womb and I’d feel energized.
After the needles were placed, Jane or Merry would turn on singing bowls or other relaxing music and I would meditate for about 30 minutes. Each visit, I felt more relaxed and motivated to being dedicated to becoming healthier.
Can anyone with fertility challenges get acupuncture?
I haven’t found any evidence that acupuncture causes any harmful side effects. Some people experience bruising or soreness at the needle site and it usually goes away within 24 hours. It’s a powerful and safe way to prepare your body to conceive naturally.
It has been shown to be extremely helpful for people going through IVF treatments. It’s a stressful and anxious time and the deep relaxation that acupuncture provides is a helpful mechanism to take advantage of during the process.
What about for women who experience PCOS or fibroids? These issues play a big role in infertility. So many women deal with this. Where does acupuncture play a role in healing the ovaries and uterus?
Fibroids are a physical manifestation of stagnate energy or blockage. Surgery is commonly suggested to remove uterine fibroids. Acupuncture has removed the need for surgery in many of these cases. Because of the increased blood flow to the pelvic area, there is an even higher chance of naturally removing the fibroids especially if detected early.
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is the most common endocrinopathy in women of reproductive age. It is prevalent in 5-10% of women and acupuncture can help remove cysts on the ovaries which influence fertility success. I experienced PCOS for several years and believe it to be a factor of my infertility. I no longer had cysts on my ovaries after a year of acupuncture treatments.
It took dedication and optimism, but I was pregnant almost one year after getting regular treatments. Many practitioners also recommend herbal supplements, dietary changes, yoga and meditation in addition to their acupuncture treatments. My fertility acupuncturists recommended these activities to me which I adopted into a regular routine and I believe that cleaning up my health and other aspects of my lifestyle was critical in allowing energy to move within me as a result of acupuncture.
Having an acupuncturist that specializes in fertility was like having a stress management coach to help me naturally prepare my mind and body for a baby.