Acupuncture for Infertility

Acupuncture therapy is commonly used for relaxation, relieving stress and pain. In recent times however, acupuncture for infertility has generated a lot of interest among the common man, as well as the scientific community.

Studies conducted on the topic of acupuncture and infertility, have revealed that acupuncture may indeed be effective in treating some types of infertility.


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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an alternative form of treatment which originated in China thousands of years ago. This process involves inserting thin, sterilized needles through the skin into various acupuncture points in the body.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture points are situated on meridians in the body, through which the Qi (also known as Ch’i) flows. Qi is the underlying principle on which traditional Chinese medicine is based, and refers to an invisible energy flow or life energy believed to be present in every living thing. These points when stimulated are believed to rejuvenate and provide many kinds of therapeutic benefits to the body. However, there is no conclusive scientific proof that such meridians or such an energy flow really exists.

Combining herbs and acupuncture

Combining herbs and acupuncture to treat some kinds of infertility problems may be gaining momentum in the west today, but it has been used since centuries in countries like China. Some studies indicate that combining herbs and acupuncture can help in the treatment of infertility in women and men, in the following ways:

  • Help regulate the menstrual cycle
  • Help treat or minimize hormonal imbalance
  • Escalate flow of blood to the uterus
  • Stimulate ovulation
  • Provide stress-relief, thereby minimizing infertility
  • Invigorate the sperm and increase sperm count and motility (ability of the sperm to swim properly towards the egg)
  • Treat ejaculatory and erectile deficiencies or dysfunctions

However, this process of combining herbs and acupuncture cannot be used for all kinds of infertility. For instance, it cannot be used to treat infertility caused due to endometriosis (cells from the uterus lining grow and flourish outside it) or in cases of fallopian tube obstructions. Nevertheless, even people suffering from such conditions can benefit a little form herbs and acupuncture because of its potential to stimulate ovulation and increase blood-flow to the uterus.

Treating infertility by combining herbs and acupuncture depends upon a lot of factors including individual preferences and the right type of combination for each different individual.

Acupuncture for fertility may involve body acupuncture or ear acupuncture and ear-seed acupressure. Body acupuncture is the more common method and the chosen points on the body for this therapy again differ from individual to individual. Ear acupuncture is based on the theory that when certain points in the ear are stimulated, its benefits are passed on to other parts of the body as well. Ear-seed acupressure is used as a common aide to acupuncture or herbal medicine.

Herbal treatment on the other hand may involve intake of herbal teas or herbal tablets.

Herbal tea is the stronger form of treatment. The teas normally come in bags of dried herbs which are boiled like other tea bags and taken daily Herbal tablets may come in the form of powder prescription or patents. In powder prescription, all the herbal ingredients are mixed and made into tablets by selected medicine suppliers. Patent treatments are considered to be less effective, but are convenient for people with busy schedules. Patents are based and manufactured on generic prescription.

Cost of acupuncture for infertility

The costs of acupuncture vary, depending on factors like geographical region, experience and training of the acupuncturist, credibility of the acupuncture center and number of sessions.

Usually the first session may be more expensive since it involves first-time consultation fees. This initial fees may be anywhere between 75-150 USD. Subsequent visits may be cheaper, ranging between 50-75 USD. Some centers may offer discounts based on the number of sessions scheduled.

This treatment may or may not be covered by insurance. Often it may not, but even if it is, only a part of the cost may be covered.

Success rate of acupuncture for infertility

Though there are no concrete statistics, some studies do indicate that acupuncture may be useful when combined with other assisted reproductive techniques. For instance, a study was carried out on 160 women undergoing assisted reproduction treatments. The women shared the same causes of infertility and were around the same age. They were assigned into two groups, one that received acupuncture therapy and the other which did not. The study found that the success rate was significantly higher in the group that did receive acupuncture.

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