Fertility Acupuncture for Ovulation and Cycle Regularity

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Acupuncture, Fertility, and Ovulation: Trying to Conceive with Chi & Needles

Over the past several centuries, Western science has come to "know the body" through specific discourses and empirical methodologies. Through "knowing the body" in just one way, or in seeing the body through one formal lens, other forms of understanding have been caste as illegitimate, dismissed as provincial folk art, or simply cancelled out as not conforming to the rigors of method or empirical verification.

Thus, to speak of the body in terms of energies, breath, pathways, histories, channels, and flows is invoke a language incommensurate with that of normative science. To speak of the body in holistic terms (terms which embrace the organism, the person, the mind and the spirit) is to depart from the predictable, the verifiable, and the empirically repeatable - the very hallmarks of Western medical science.

So when an acupuncturist or herbalist specializing in Chinese medicine identifies a problem with a specific organ, they do not isolate the organ from the rest of the body and the body's intricate relations, but instead identify a complexly imbricated relationship between an organ and its energy channels (or meridians). In treating infertility, then, acupuncture attempts to identify and rectify the fundamental causes of specific symptoms by viewing the organism, mind, and spirit relationally and holistically - as integral and reciprocal processes. Thus, overarching diagnostic labels for abstract "conditions" are generally avoided and, instead, acupuncture focuses on unique symptoms and particular needs - and so counters with singular, individualized treatments.

One thing that cannot be denied is that acupuncture works - and fertility acupuncture has proven to be successful in treating many infertility issues (as well as complementing traditional Western treatments). In fact, Western research has verified (though obliquely and in its own terms) that acupuncture exerts a clear impact on our bodily systems, regulating hormones, increasing blood-flow, quieting pain, calming the mind, facilitating naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents, and strengthening immunity. For our purposes below, we'll focus on infertility symptoms and acupuncture treatments.

Explaining Acupuncture for Fertility

Acupuncture is an ancient practice that involves the painless insertion of very thin, sterile needles into "acupuncture points" on the body. There are more than 2,000 of such points, each associated with various pathways through which flow the body's natural life energy (or Chi). In acupuncture practice, these pathways or conduits (referred to as meridians) help regulate and "unblock" the passage and flow of chi, in turn helping to regulate and improve countless bodily, mental, and emotional functions. Tai Chi (a Chinese martial art) incorporates many of the same fundamental principles. In Chinese medicine, acupuncture (as well as herbal treatments) works by unblocking disturbances in the flow of Chi that lead to imbalance, illness, poor health and, in our present case, specific fertility dysfunctions.

Acupuncture and Ovulation: In cases of female infertility, acupuncture works by helping to regulate reproductive hormones and assist in the maturation of ova (or eggs). While the flow and balance of key hormones like FSH and estrogen is regulated by the brain - by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland - the acupuncture needles themselves are inserted in associated pathways far from these organs.

Infertility symptoms connected with hormonal imbalances are particularly treatable with acupuncture (or acupuncture applied in conjunction with traditional Chinese herbal medicines or pharmaceutical drugs). In mild cases of cycle irregularity, acupuncture may bring balance to the monthly menstrual cycle. In more serious cases when there is a failure to ovulate (anovulation) or PCOS, acupuncture has also proven effective. For example, problems with ovulation (or the actual failure to ovulate) connected with FSH imbalances that may suggest "low ovarian reserve" may be treatable, as well as symptoms related to imbalances in progesterone (luteal phase defect) and early-term miscarriage.

Thus, acupuncture can be used to help stimulate egg production and regular ovulation during the first half (ovulatory phase) of the menstrual cycle, as well as provide hormonal balance during the second half (luteal phase). It may also decrease PMS symptoms, regulate irregular cycles and periods, and decrease anxiety, stress, and TTC (trying-to-conceive) frustrations.

Moreover, it has also been shown that acupuncture can provide additional benefits by increasing blood flow to the womb, helping to build endometrium or uterine lining for implantation. Also, if progesterone levels are not sufficient to help maintain the endometrium during the luteal phase, acupuncture can decrease the odds of miscarriage by helping sustain the integrity of the uterine lining that supports a pregnancy.

For men, acupuncture may also be used in some cases of male infertility symptoms associated with sperm production and wellness. Acupuncture may help in both strengthening the sperm and enhancing sperm count.

Infertility, Acupuncture, and IVF: Acupuncture has also revealed itself to be effective in supporting other "mainstream" assisted reproductive procedures. In such cases, acupuncture may be used directly to help facilitate hormonal balance, ovulation, egg maturation, etc, or indirectly to reduce anxiety and stress, restore the body's natural balance, and to help support overall wellness and somatic-emotional equilibrium. For women using fertility medications, acupuncture may reduce side effects and help purify the body of associated pharmaceutical toxins, thus further improving the odds that assisted reproductive procedures will work.

> Stages and Phases of Ovulation
> Holistic & Herbal Approaches Fertility
> Pregnancy: Herbs to Avoid and Herbs
> Pregnancy Health and Diet
> Yoga for Pregnancy
> Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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