Acupuncture and Infertility
It is said that women are more sensitive then men. This certainly is true when it comes to cases of infertility. In truth the mere word infertility labels a women with a negative connotation. Most of the time it is unexplainable within the Western medical model as to the reason that a women is having difficulty with conception and pregnancy. Asian medicine looks at this in quite a different way. Through the Eastern medical model we investigate the underlying causes that lie embedded within her internal environment. Once these causes are identified, then they can be addressed and rectified. Acupuncture has been well documented in its effectiveness to help women get pregnant and carry it full term. Rather than identifying infertility simply as a problem with an ovary or a specific hormone problem, TCM dictates that fertility is a natural state, considering the internal environment as a whole system of energetic patterns. From the onset of menstruation until menopause, women experiencing their optimal state of balance are fertile.
Infertility results when the network of hormones, organs, and energy systems are not functioning optimally. These imbalances obstruct normal function, (conceiving a child every time her ovaries release an egg). Restoring the environment is conducted holistically. There is not a separation of mind, body, emotions and spirit as in western medicine. Eastern medicine considers each of these elements to be equal in its assessment of the causes of infertility. Eastern medicines approach is to restore balance to the entire body/mind connective system.
We are all made up of energy. Within our bodies are billions of activities occurring daily, all meant to plant, nourish, cultivate and support healthy function.
Symptoms such as impotence, infertility, PMS, pelvic inflammatory disease, vaginitis, irregular periods, cramps, or morning sickness are all indicators that point to an out of balance internal environment.
Miscarriage, Stress and Conception
The body understands that one should not carry a pregnancy when under tremendous stress. Our inner wisdom dictates that prioritizing one’s own overall health takes precedence and carrying the burden of an additional life can be an overwhelming strain.
Hormonal response to stress is antagonistic to the required environment for fertility. Examples: under stress, adrenaline is released from the adrenal glands and inhibits the ability to utilize progesterone. In times of stress, the pituitary gland may begin to malfunction. Stress creates false information and creates a serious of assumptions and conclusions the body responds to. When we are under stress, the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, accelerating heart rate and constricting blood vessels and micro-circulation. This is our “fight or flee from danger” warning system. As this hyperstimulated dynamic is occurring, less blood is delivered to the uterus and ovaries, thus impairing optimal function. One of the biggest stressors for women is the inability to conceive. There are other internal stressors, and external stressors that need to be addressed.
In the journal Fertility and Sterility, published by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, reported a study in which researchers stimulated acupuncture points that were meant to relax the uterus and create better blood circulation and more energy circulation in the uterus. Points designed to promote a patient’s general row expedition, and overall well-being were also chosen. Ultrasound testing, six weeks after treatments were completed, revealed that almost twice as many women from the acupuncture group than from the untreated group became pregnant. Another study by Cornell University, published in December 2002 reported, the peripheral impact of acupuncture in improving uterine artery blood flow and hence endometrial thickness provides encouraging data regarding its potential positive effects on implantation. The study concluded, “ because acupuncture is non-toxic and relatively affordable, its indications in assisting reproduction deserves serious research and exploration”.
Traditional and modern acupuncture involves the insertion of thin hair like disposable wires into points on the surface of the skin. Acupuncture’s effects on the body can be explained by a number of theories.
Acupuncture meridians are paths of electrical energy running throughout the body. For electrical energy to flow smoothly, there would have to be amplifiers along the lines of current these are the sites where acupuncture occurs.
Another theory described in western methodology addresses for the neurological effects of acupuncture. Stimulation of acupuncture points affect the nervous system, releasing chemicals to either alleviate pain, or affect the body’s internal regulating system. Acupuncture stimulates specific nerve bundles that carry electrical impulses back to the brain, increasing higher endorfin concentrations. This produces a higher more intense feeling of relaxation and euphoria that most people feel after their acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture transmits messages to the hypothalamus, which controls all hormonal activity, including ovulation, menstruation, and pregnancy. When the hypothalamus receives messages triggered by acupuncture stimulation, neurotransmitters, i.e., dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin it triggers action within the pituitary gland, (which controls the ovaries, adrenals, and thyroid gland), producing both follicle- stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) which are critical elements in a healthy cycle. Those explanations are derived from the western medical model.
Acupuncture can stimulate the bodies hormonal system into alignment, secreting the appropriate hormones at the right time in the right place during a woman’s cycle thus facilitating conception. Acupuncture and herbal therapy are both natural and effective in assisting in successful conception. According to traditional Chinese medical philosophy, this is achieved through the careful assessment and evaluation of the overall function within the body. This function takes into consideration the ebb and flow of vital energy, blood circulation, organ function and balancing the activities that occur in about a daily.
Western medicine is specific and reductionistic, in it’s compartmentalized, mechanical medical model. Little to no attention is focused on the overall cohesiveness of an individual’s health. Eastern medicine strength comes from its overview of balance, harmony and well-being within an individual. Its focus is always on increasing normal or optimal function. The first step is to assess and evaluate what’s happening within your system and how it relates to reproductive organs. Next is to determine what acupuncture and herbal protocol would be appropriate. This is known as a treatment plan. Treatment plants can range from three months (three cycles) to one year. In addition to acupuncture and herbal formulas treatment may include change of diet and therapeutic exercises or rituals to be to be incorporated into one’s daily life.