“Why do we always give ear needles to women who are trying to become pregnant?” asked my professor during a lecture on treating fertility.
The acupuncture students in my class shouted out various answers:
“To regulate the hormones.”
“To improve the likelihood of conception.”
“To enhance the strength of the treatment.”
“Yes… but what’s the biggest reason that we always give ear needles to women who are trying to become pregnant – every treatment, every single time?” she repeated.
“Stress,” offered another student.
“YES. Because when the body is doing it’s biological count down, and a woman is receiving test after test, and monitoring her body temperature daily, and eating carefully to regulate her blood sugar levels, and taking medications and timed hormone injections to enhance her likelihood of conception… And when her husband is rushing off in the middle of a work day to a clinic where he has to ejaculate into a cup in a strange environment at the exact moment when his wife or girlfriend may be fertile – this may be the most stressful time in a couple’s life. And to conceive under the condition of this type of stress is unlikely – your sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive and your stress hormones are out of whack.”
Years later, I have not forgotten this emphatic point.
What my professor did not cover in this description is the deep heartache, self shaming and cultural humiliation that can happen to a couple when they cannot conceive. If you were not aware that stating things like, “Are you two planning on having kids soon?” can seep a gut-wrenching heartache into an infertile couple, who keeps their struggles private from the public and may leave you completely unaware of this anguish inside of them, consider yourself informed and read this article.
This leads us right into the first of 4 Steadfast Reasons to Use Traditional Chinese Medicine for Infertility
1. It reduces stress. Stress, anxiety and grief are key elements that must be eliminated during the fertile window in order to ensure successful implantation for pregnancy. Acupuncture, and particularly ear acupuncture, can regulate stress and help the body relax. Have you heard about couples that cannot get pregnant for years, as they go through tests and appointments galore, but they hit up a beach vacation and come back expecting a new family member in 9 months? Reducing stress levels is essential to healthy conception.
2. Evidence-based Results. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which includes acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, does more than just regulate stress in infertile couples. It relieves Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). It improves symptoms of PCOS and assist in inducing ovulation. For years, acupuncture has shown in Western studies that it can reduce blood flow impedance in the uterine artery, which helps increase the uterus lining’s receptivity during implantation. There are Western studies galore that point to the positive effects of TCM on infertility. As an acupuncturist, I refer to these articles to inform me on what I know has been proven to work.
3. Individualized Treatments for your Unique Constitution. Western studies, impeccable and shatterproof as they are, miss the most important aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In TCM, we look at both the patient’s symptoms and their unique constitution to create an individualized treatment. Our treatments address both the “root” of the disorder (i.e. the internal and external systems in the body that are creating the issue) and the “branch” (i.e. the symptoms that occur as a result of underlying imbalances, for instance, infertility.). Our treatments are designed to specifically address the patient that is in front of us instead of offering a catch-all treatment for every person with infertility or any other disorder for that matter.
You know what is absolutely, positively awe-inspiring about these individualized treatments? Infertility is such a rapidly expanding field as the growing acceptance of various sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions arrive on the scene. Our world is now, more than ever, a color wheel of life experiences as opposed to our previous black and white view. As healthcare begins to address those of non-conforming gender identities and tailor to same-sex couples, individuation in care is essential. Traditional Chinese Medicine has trail-blazed in providing individualizing care for over 2000 years. As this traditional field grows to become more inclusive, it can use these humble roots to lead healthcare into a new era. This new era will provide comprehensive, high quality, informed healthcare where it has previously been denied.
4. Light & Dark Acupuncture. When I treat individuals for infertility, I craft a treatment that is founded in evidence-based research. These treatments also address my client’s unique make up, and everything taking place in their body at this given moment in time. I love being present with my patients and creating a space where they can grieve, heal and celebrate on this journey to parenthood. If you are looking for a professional you can trust to walk through this journey with you, schedule an appointment today. This is a long, but rewarding adventure that I’d be honored to jump into with you!