The odds of getting pregnant in any given cycle are only 20%! This might sound like too low of a number if you are ready to start a family! While half of couples will be pregnant within 3 months of trying and 85% within 1 year, if you and your partner have been trying to conceive and aren't having success as quickly as you'd like to, you might consider adding acupuncture into your routine. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I use acupuncture daily in my practice, and often suggest that my patient's consider it as part of their health toolkit. Make sure to read to the end to get the answers to the many frequently asked questions I get about this therapy (no, it doesn't hurt!)
Acupuncture has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years to improve health and treat disease. It's traditional use is well established, and modern research is confirming for us that it is a safe and effective tool. While the precise way in which it works is still not crystal clear, it's been proposed that there are multiple mechanisms through which an acupuncture needle works it's magic. Most notably, when it comes to fertility and pregnancy, it is thought to help:
The thing I love the most about using acupuncture with my patients who are trying to get pregnant is that it is safe to use even if you are already working with a fertility clinic doing cycle monitoring, or if you are using any assisted reproductive technology (ART) like IUI or IVF. Also, unlike some of the awesome fertility supporting supplements available to us, acupuncture doesn't interact with any medications you might be taking to stimulate ovulation or the growth of your uterine lining!
You should consider acupuncture if:
I get it though - you're nervous! I'm suggesting sticking needles into your body to help you get pregnant. So, to ease your worries, let me answer some of the common and frequently asked questions I get about acupuncture!
Does it hurt?
The needles should not be painful or uncomfortable. When I am putting them in, you might feel a slight pinch and a little bit of an achy sensation, but definitely nothing sharp or stabbing. A lot of my patients tell me that they don't feel anything at all! I want you to be able to relax while the needles are in, and if you are in pain then you can't do that very effectively! So, if the needle hurts, I'll move it or take it out entirely. You are in control the whole time!
Where do the needles go?
Since acupuncture can be so highly individualized, the answer really depends! But typically needles will get put in your arms, legs and abdomen. Sometimes I also put needles on your ear or head (these ones are powerhouse points for calming your mind!)
How big are the needles?
The needles I use for fertility acupuncture range in size from 15-40mm. The size of the needle depends on the location which it's going in. A needle into the muscles of your thigh can be a bit longer than one going into your wrist, for example. They are about 0.2 mm in diameter. To give you context, a sewing needle is about 1mm in diameter, and the needles used to draw blood from your vein or to inject an immunization into your arm is about 25mm in diameter - a huge difference!
My partner and I are going to do IVF (in-vitro fertilization), can acupuncture help in this situation?
ABSOLUTELY! In fact, some studies have suggested that pregnancy rates are increased in women who have acupuncture pre- and post-IVF vs. those women who do not have acupuncture. I am available to travel to fertility clinics in the GTA to provide this service on site! Get in touch with me if this is something you are interested in! Having acupuncture on the day of your embryo transfer can not only help to improve your chances for a positive pregnancy test, but it can be very helpful to reduce stress, and reduce pain or cramping associated with the procedure.
How often should I get acupuncture?
Again, the true answer is "it depends!" In an ideal world, you would get a treatment once per week. If we have reason to suspect you are not ovulating or your menstrual cycle is really wonky, then this really is the best course of action to see success with acupuncture. If we are confident you are ovulating, then I might just see you once or twice after you ovulate for a treatment. The majority of my patients see me once pre-ovulation and once-post ovulation.
If you're interested in learning more about how acupuncture might help you, then please reach out to me to book a complimentary 15 minute meet and greet (these can be done in person or by phone.) We can discuss your individual health history and goals in more detail, and I can give you some more information about how acupuncture might help you!
And of course, if you have any questions - shoot me an email or comment below!