Acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1.6 percent of all infants born annually in the United States are conceived using assisted reproductive technology or in vitro fertilization. In vitro fertilization or IVF is big business. The average cost of an IVF cycle costs $12,000, and that doesn’t even include the medications that can run between $3,000 and $5,000.

This is where acupuncture may be able to assist. Many fertility doctors are now recommending acupuncture, as it can improve a woman’s chances of conceiving by up to 60 percent. There have been multiple studies conducted that show the rates of live births nearly double in cases where acupuncture was used.

Acupuncture treatments can improve blood flow to the uterus. This has been verified through the use of ultrasound. Increased blood flow to the uterus can create a more hospitable environment for implantation of an embryo.

Another factor that plays heavily in the world of conception is a woman’s stress levels. When a woman is undergoing in vitro fertilization, she is under a lot of stress, both physically and mentally. This can lead to increased amounts of stress hormones that are actually detrimental to the body and may inhibit fertility.  Again, this is where acupuncture treatments can help. Regular acupuncture treatments have been shown to decrease overall stress levels, making the fertilization procedure a little easier for the body.

Lastly, acupuncture has been shown to improve the response of the body to in vitro fertilization medications. IVF medications cause multiple follicles to grow, and the higher the number of mature eggs retrieved, the greater the likelihood that one of those eggs will get fertilized, resulting in an embryo for implantation into the uterus.

It is usually recommended a woman begin acupuncture a couple of months prior to the IVF procedure. This will increase the chances of conception. Here, Eastern and Western medicine work very well together. If you’re considering in vitro fertilization, acupuncture might be a welcomed addition to the mix.

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Acupuncture and Breastfeeding

New mothers always want to do everything possible to care for their new baby. One of the best ways to care for that new bundle of joy is by breastfeeding them. Breast milk contains vital nutrients and antibodies that can boost the baby’s immune system. And as an added bonus, breastfeeding allows for the bond between mom and baby to strengthen.

However, for many women, breastfeeding does not come naturally. For some, due to their own nutritional deficiencies, breastfeeding may not be the best choice. And for others, the lack of milk produced by the mammary glands can be why they are unable to breastfeed.

For those moms who are unable to produce enough milk on their own, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be a helpful tool. According to TCM, there are two major causes of low milk supply. Both of these causes deal with blood and qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is frequently translated into energy. And everything on the planet contains energy, even the table and chairs we sit on daily.

The first major cause of low milk production is due to the stomach and spleen being deficient in their production of qi and blood. The spleen and stomach take the nutrients from the food mom ingests and then transforms those nutrients into blood and energy that nourish her body. During pregnancy, more energy and blood is sent to the uterus to feed the growing baby, which can leave mom’s body deficient after giving birth. Giving birth is a traumatic experience for the body and mom needs time to heal and rejuvenate. But when there is a newborn baby that needs attention, most new moms tend to neglect themselves, making it more difficult for their bodies to produce enough milk for the baby.

The second major cause of low milk production is due to the liver and heart being weakened by negative emotions like worry, frustration, and anxiety. When this occurs, the blood and qi of the liver and heart are unable to flow freely, leading to blockages that can prevent nutrients from being processed properly and keeping them from getting to the appropriate areas, such as the mammary glands. For most new moms experiencing milk production problems, it is a combination of both of these major causes.

Regular acupuncture treatments leading up to birth and even after the baby is born can be very beneficial for the new mom. Studies conducted at the Hanzhong Shanxi Hospital demonstrated that the application of specific acupuncture points actually increase the quantity of milk being produced by mom. Acupuncture increases breast milk production by removing blockages through increased circulation. Acupuncture can also assist digestion, allowing it to be more proficient in metabolizing the nutrients from food to create milk for the baby.

The most important way that acupuncture can help improve and increase lactation, is by decreasing stress. When cortisol, the stress hormone, is elevated, the body cannot function properly. New moms are often stressed and sleep deprived.

If you or somebody you know is pregnant or has just had a baby and low milk production is an issue, looking into acupuncture might be a good way to help.

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Research Update: Acupuncture and Depression

A study published by BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of depression. For the study, rats were exposed to three weeks of chronic unpredictable mild stress, which put them into a state of depression. Once depression had set in, the rats were then treated using two acupuncture points for 10-minute sessions. What was discovered was that depression-like behaviors were decreased using this treatment method. Therefore, it was determined by this particular study, that acupuncture indeed has positive effects on the symptoms of depression and can be used as a means to treat the disease.

Depression is defined as a mental disorder characterized by feelings of dejection and severe despondency.  Worldwide, nearly 350 million people suffer from depression and nearly 16 million of those are in the United States alone. Statistics show women tend to be more likely to experience depression and young adults between the ages of 18 to 22 are also at higher risk. Symptoms of depression include extreme irritability over minor issues, anxiety, restlessness, irrational anger, lack of interest in everyday activities, thoughts of death, insomnia, severe fatigue, weight gain/loss, difficulty concentrating and unexplained aches and pains. When these symptoms occur for more than a few weeks, depression may be the reason behind them.

As shown in the aforementioned study, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is very effective in treating depression, not only short-term, but also long-term. Modern medicine usually treats depression with antidepressants and psychotherapy regardless of the presenting symptoms. In contrast, TCM diagnoses each patient on an individual basis and treats the specific symptoms, while also addressing the root of the illness.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help alleviate symptoms of depression while also attacking the root cause(s), thus bringing the body and mind back into balance. The body and mind are inseparable and should be treated as a whole, which is the approach used by acupuncturists. When we experience emotional challenges and become upset, our physical body may become affected as well. Then a vicious cycle begins because the emotions are greatly impacted by what we can and cannot do physically.

The theory behind treating depression using TCM, all revolves around the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is considered the vital energy that flows through the body and animates everything. When Qi is blocked or stagnant, illness can take root, either physically or mentally. Qi flows throughout the body on energetic pathways or meridians. Each energetic meridian is associated with an organ and each organ has its own emotion. For example, the emotion of the liver meridian is anger. When Qi is blocked and liver Qi stagnation occurs, anger can then manifest. From the same standpoint, if a person is excessively angry, the flow of Qi can be blocked creating stagnation.

Acupuncture releases endorphins and activates natural pain killers. By doing so, it improves the flow of Qi throughout the body while eliminating blockages and bringing balance to the mind and body. Endorphins counter the symptoms of depression and allow the person to resume a normal life.

If you are suffering from depression and are looking for a natural way of dealing with it, contacting a licensed acupuncturist might be exactly what you need. A local acupuncturist can help you navigate the waters of depression without the harmful side-effects of pharmaceuticals, while helping you get back to a happier life.

 

SOURCE: https://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-016-1356-x

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Research Update – Acupuncture and Fertility

A study published by the National Institutes of Health in 2018 indicates receiving acupuncture treatments can improve the possibility of conceiving a child for patients that have experienced fertility issues. This particular study was conducted on one couple, and focused on treating both partners to achieve conception. The male received acupuncture treatments to improve sperm quality, and the female received acupuncture treatments to remove ovarian cysts and improve blood flow to the uterus. After seven treatments, the ovarian cysts had disappeared, and the couple was able to conceive. The acupoints used in this study were chosen to improve blood flow and energy to the reproductive organs, while also decreasing excess phlegm and fluids in the lower body. Acupuncture has been shown to be very effective at treating infertility in the past and this study confirms those findings.

Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year or more of unprotected sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 18 percent of women aged 15 to 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying the pregnancy to full term. Infertility is not limited to women though. The CDC reports 35 percent of couples with infertility have a male component to their difficulties. This means that nearly 6.9 million people in the United States have received fertility treatments. Infertility is typically treated with injections, prescription medications and even artificial insemination, but there are still no guarantees that conception will occur even with all of these efforts.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been proven to increase the chance of conception in couples that are currently receiving fertility treatments. In fact, the success rates of conception increase from 39.4 percent to 65.5 percent when acupuncture and TCM are added to the mix. Acupuncture helps increase fertility by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing hormones. Acupuncture treatments can provide increased blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, which creates a stronger chance for an egg to be nourished and carried to full term. In the male, acupuncture treatments can improve sperm quality and motility.

The insertion of acupuncture needles has been proven to stimulate blood flow, so for men, regular acupuncture treatments can increase blood flow to the testicular arteries. The testicles need blood to provide nutrients, remove waste products and keep the area cool. Excess waste products can damage sperm while they mature in the testicles. Stagnation of blood in the scrotum can increase testicular temperatures, which can be very detrimental to the forming sperm. By increasing blood flow to and from this area, nutrients are brought in and waste is removed, which will contribute to healthier sperm.

The most common cause of female infertility is due to a problem with ovulation. This can be caused by imbalanced hormones, stress or even a buildup of excess phlegm in the lower body. All of these situations may prevent the release of a mature egg from the ovaries. When progesterone is lacking, the fetus may be unable to attach to the uterus. Regular acupuncture treatments have been shown to correct these imbalances, making conception more possible.

If infertility is something you are dealing with, ask me how I can help. The chances of getting pregnant and having a happy healthy baby are much better when combining both Western medicine and Eastern medicine.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6182526/

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3 Reasons Acupuncture Supports Couples Facing Infertility

When you consider all the changes in our agricultural practices, the increased number of medications we take, as well as our dependence on plastic and technology that is constantly emitting low-grade radiation, it’s no surprise more couples are having trouble conceiving. Current statistics show one in six couples who are trying to conceive are facing fertility issues. And while many times infertility is thought of as a female issue, it is really a factor for both the man and woman and should therefore be addressed as such. continue reading »

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