Understanding Reproductive Health

Struggling with Infertility? Acupuncture May Help

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By Henry Ford Health System Staff

If you’re having difficulty getting pregnant, you’ve probably done a lot of research, sought the advice (and support) of friends and consulted a doctor who specializes in infertility. What’s next? You might want to consider seeing an acupuncturist.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that regulates the body’s flow of energy (chi). “This energy quiets nervous system activity that can get in the way of a successful pregnancy,” says Mathew Kulas, RAc, an acupuncturist at Henry Ford Health System.

There can be many things that prevent a woman from becoming pregnant and one of the major causes is stress. When a woman is stressed, high levels of the hormone cortisol disrupt the flow of fertility hormones like progesterone.

“Acupuncture helps lower cortisol, thereby helping women de-stress and make fertility easier,” Kulas says. But that’s not all. “Treatments may also alleviate problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle that can directly impact her ability to get pregnant.”

For example, a woman may be experiencing blood clots, low back pain, cramping or anovulation (when a woman’s body does not ovulate regularly). According to Kulas, these symptoms provide important cues on how acupuncturists might tailor treatments to regulate the menstrual cycle.

Acupuncture treatments involve inserting fine, hair-thin needles into fields of energy within the body. These fields are all over the body, including the hands, feet and ears. If you have a fear of needles, don’t fret — acupuncture rarely causes discomfort. Most people experience sensations of warmth, drowsiness or a spike in energy, but no pain.

“The biggest thing is that it’s a safe treatment. The risk of side effects is slim,” Kulas says. “It’s also important to know that acupuncture works in harmony with other fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF).”

Working With Your Doctor
To get the best care, it’s important to let your fertility specialist know if you are receiving acupuncture. According to research, seven out of 10 people who have tried alternative medicine did not tell their doctor.

Letting your fertility specialist know you are receiving acupuncture allows both doctors to give you the best possible care. For example, receiving acupuncture treatments during a certain point in your menstrual cycle, like just before a round of IVF, may help increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

Acupuncture is often just one step in a whole-person approach to treating infertility. Acupuncturists often provide personalized diet and lifestyle recommendations to help women on their journey to motherhood. These recommendations may include finding ways to relax, exercising less vigorously, sleeping better and eating a healthier diet.

Related Topic: Infertility 101: When It’s Time to See a Specialist

Make an appointment with the Henry Ford Center for Integrative Medicine, which offers acupuncture, chiropractic care, therapeutic massage and functional medicine in support of one’s total health and wellness. Request an appointment online or by calling (248) 380-6201.

Mathew Kulas, RAc, is a licensed acupuncturist and sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Centers located in Northville and Grosse Pointe Farms.

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