Acupuncture and Fertility

May 2, 2008 at 11:31 am

by Brendagh O'Sullivan

by Brendagh O'Sullivan

It’s spring again, the sap is rising and nature abounds with new growth and teaming life. It’s truly a wonderful and joyous time of year, unless of course, this is not what is happening for you. I do seem to be treating an ever increasing number of people with fertility issues. Whether we are leaving it later to start a family, too wrapped up in a stressful life, over exposed to xeno oestrogens, more people are arriving at my practise unhappy at the length of time it seems to be taking to conceive.

Becoming pregnant is not always straightforward. It involves a delicate synchronisation of physical, psychological and emotional factors. It is the acupuncturist’s aim to keep you as relaxed, enriched and empowered throughout this potentially stressful journey.

Although it’s mainly women who seek treatment, in many cases their men would benefit from a short course of treatment, too. The quality and vitality of the semen can be improved, even if your sperm count was satisfactory. And just to reassure men, the acupuncture needles are mainly placed into the arms, legs and back. If loose clothing is worn, there’s even no need to get undressed!

I recommend people to try acupuncture before considering assisted conception techniques (IVF, IUI, ICSI etc.)You will be treated according to your unique differential diagnosis and may well conceive whilst on the waiting list to see a consultant. One of my patients describes her experience:

“At the end of 2006 I had a missed-miscarriage and then problems with the resulting evacuation procedure. Finally I was given the all clear and told I would have no trouble conceiving again, but six months later I wasn’t pregnant and felt that I wanted some help other than what was available through my GP. I had heard great things about acupuncture from a friend who also had fertility concerns and so looked for a registered practitioner who specialised in this area. As a result I got in contact with Brendagh and within two months I was pregnant. Not only do I believe that seeing Brendagh helped my body regarding fertility, but being a long-term asthmatic, I have also found acupuncture to be hugely beneficial in this area.”

Mrs P.T., Clevedon

If, however you have already begun an assisted conception cycle, acupuncture can work effectively alongside this to increase your chances of conception. If you have had a number of unsuccessful assisted cycles, the reason why you are not yet pregnant may lie outside the scope of western medicine. Acupuncture, with its oriental perspective, may provide the key to resolving recurrent miscarriage, polycystic ovary syndrome, advancing maternal age, and abdominal congestion (endometriosis, fibroids, tubal obstruction, etc.) Every person’s circumstances are unique. Guidance may be suggested in terms of nutrition, exercise and lifestyle.

I’m still surprised at how many women consider their periods as “normal” despite headaches, sore breasts, abdominal pain, clotting, dribbling or breakthrough bleeding. These are all signs of minor disharmonies that could be holding up your happy event. If you chart your daily temperature, bring this along to your consultation, as it’s a valuable diagnostic tool.

Brendagh O’Sullivan has been practising as an acupuncturist in and around Bristol for 20 years. She has successfully worked with fertility (both male and female), offering IVF support, and regularly treats menopausal and other gynaecological problems.


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