Fertility work is something I take very seriously. It is a privilege and an honour to be with a growing family on their very sacred and personal path. It’s the elation and joy of those emails that come through my inbox with the subject line “it worked!” after multiple IVF failures. Or text messages with screen shots of positive pregnancy tests, after they have waited for such a long time. Then there is the darkness. The disappointment. The longing. The heavy and brutal exhaustion. The self doubt. I feel so fortunate to witness the inevitable evolution in people as they go through something that is so hard and so heartbreaking. There are fewer things that are so raw and so real, than a person’s journey to parenthood.
For Acupuncturists, fertility work is not a new concept. We have known for a long time that by simply putting the body into an optimal state of homeostasis and health, we can have a profound effect on fertile potential. We believe that by using gentle therapeutics such as acupuncture, herbs and food, we can encourage the body to heal itself and thrive.
Achieving that optimal state of health is an important goal for any person, regardless of where they are in their fertility journey and regardless of whether they are providing the sperm, the egg or the womb. Whether a person is in the preconception planning stage, the actively trying to conceive (TTC) stage or in the process of using Assisted Reproductive Therapeutics stage (such as IVF), the odds of conception can be significantly increased, simply by working on improving overall bodily health.
5 THINGS THAT A FERTILITY ACUPUNCTURIST WORKS TO IMPROVE
1. The menstrual cycle
The ideal cycle (one that is optimal for conception) is 28 days in length, has four days of bleeding (where on day one, the pad needs to be changed every 4 hours) with no cramps, clots, spotting or PMS of any kind. When a woman comes to acupuncture clinic, we compare her cycle to the ideal cycle and work toward it – as a way of measuring our success in improving fertility.
Proper digestion is essential for optimal fertility, as both absorption and elimination functions are an integral part of the manufacturing and metabolism of hormones. If you have indigestion or constipation – it is one of the first things we work on.
Sleep is very important to health and conception. Hormone production is greatly affected by sleep. The aim is to have at least 7 hours of good quality sleep every night. If someone isn’t sleeping well, we work to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
The diet that we consider to be “healthy” in North American culture is not necessarily optimal for conception. We encourage a nutritionally dense diet, which may not be what most people are used to, when they think of “healthy eating”.
It is widely known that stress has a huge impact on fertility. Acupuncturists work to improve the way the body and mind respond to stress and offer tools on how to deal with it.
By improving these five things, we can have a positive impact on a more microscopic level, meaning we can:
- Improve egg quality
- Improve lining
- Balance hormones
- Work toward resolving established conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis and uterine fibroids
- Achieve a more predictable menstrual cycle
- Decrease chances of miscarriage
- Decrease the chances of medical side effects if a person is working with Assisted Reproductive Therapeutics (at the fertility clinic)
For some, using the treatments at a fertility clinic is the only option for conception. In this case, working with a fertility acupuncturist can still be beneficial. The most recent research has revealed that there is a significant increase in chances of conception for people who use a whole systems TCM approach (acupuncture, food, lifestyle, etc) in conjunction with their IVF cycle. This includes on site acupuncture at the fertility clinic, before and after the embryo transfer. The most significant development about this particular research is that the findings have reflected the improvements in outcomes of bringing pregnancy to term and live births. For more details, go here.