What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a very old art of healing, which has been given renewed attention taking into consideration recent scientific research and its combination with modern medical practice in the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including Infertility.
In Latin, Acus means needle or point and puncture means to prick. It is also often seen as a complementary therapy to modern fertility treatments. The theory of Acupuncture is based on the energy flow of Qi (‘chee’). The energy runs through the body and along its surface in regular patterns called channels or meridians.
These channels support and control the functions of the body. When the energy flows freely in these channels, health is maintained. When the energy is blocked or used up, pain or illness results. Passing special needles through acupuncture points corrects the flow of energy Qi which in turn corrects the imbalances that have occurred inside the body. Scientifically, the stimulation of certain trigger points on the body by acupuncture needles affects a particular type of nerves which are a part of autonomic nervous system, the functioning of the blood vessels and special glands in our body called endocrine glands, the brain chemistry and also the production of chemical by the brain called endorphins which often abolishing all sensation of pain.
How does Electro acupuncture work?
By Acupuncture needling, Obstruction or Imbalance in energy is corrected. After diagnosing, 6 to 10 points are selected for treatment. Thin silver needles are inserted at these points. They are stimulated with the battery operated machine. The current used only 9 volts, which is harmless.
Needles are withdrawn after 20 minutes; they are autoclaved (sterilized) for the next session.
Does acupuncture hurt?
If you’ve never had acupuncture this is an obvious question to ask. However in Ankoor fertility clinic, acupuncture needles are extremely fine hair like silver needles and usually you will just feel a sensation like a mosquito bite as the needle is inserted. The sensation does vary depending on where the needles are inserted but very few people say acupuncture hurts and it’s described as a sweet pain. They are usually more concerned about whether acupuncture will work for them and whether the needles are clean (acupuncture needles are single-use disposables).
The current which is used is 9 volts, which is absolutely harmless.
How is the treatment given?
Initially the acupuncturist will spend up to 30 minutes asking about your complaint, such as how long you’ve had the problem, your current symptoms, your health history, your diet, your sleeping habits and bowel movements and other information that may seem irrelevant to you.
Usually from 4-12 acupuncture points are selected. The most common points are on your arms below your elbows, on abdomen, on your legs below your knees and along either side of your spine from your neck to your sacrum. Each point is swabbed with alcohol before the needle is inserted.
The acupuncturist may ask you to report any sensations of tingling or warmth around the site of the needles. These sensations indicate that the point has been correctly located. Generally, the needles are left in place for about 20 minutes, but painful conditions may need longer treatment time. A common acupuncture benefit is that it’s usually very relaxing – all you have to do is lie still and it’s quite common for people to fall asleep during their treatment.
How often will I need acupuncture?
Acupuncture is administered in courses of 7-10 daily treatments, then there’s a break of several days, then another 7-10 day course, and so on until the problem is cured. This kind of treatment schedule is usually not convenient or practical for Western people though. Usually Western acupuncturists advise 1-3 treatments a week, which is still usually effective but overall treatment time is longer. Generally total 20 sessions are advised in Ankoor clinic before the fertility treatment and continued along with it.
How many treatments will I need?
Overall treatment time is dependent on many factors such as the nature and severity of your complaint, how long you’ve had it, your age, your general health, your lifestyle and how much you are willing to do to assist the healing process. For example, if the acupuncturist advises that avoiding fried foods and alcohol will help your problem, will you heed the advice?
Also as TCM views each of us as a unique individual, people with the same complaint will most likely receive entirely different treatment and will respond to it differently. Your acupuncturist will best be able to tell you how many treatments you need after he/she has diagnosed your particular problem according to TCM principles.
How much does the treatment cost?
The treatment is non-expensive and can be taken as an adjunction to the medical treatment.
Are the needles sterilized?
The most common practice among acupuncturists in the U. S. today is to disposable, individually packaged, stainless steel needles. Needles are not saved and reused for other treatments. This eliminates all risk of contamination.
In Ankoor fertility clinic, we are using fine disposable silver needles which are autoclaved after every use of electroacupuncture.
What is the depth of needle insertion?
Depending upon the specifics of the health condition, acupuncture point location, patient’s size, age, constitution, and the acupuncturist’s methodology, the needles are typically inserted about a quarter of an inch but could be as deep as one inch.
Does it bleed after inserting needles?
You may notice a small drop of blood at one or more of the needle sites and a small bruise could develop. These should not be harmful, but please talk to your acupuncturist if you are concerned.
What is the role of acupuncture in Infertility?
Acupuncture treatment can be an effective means to aid conception (pregnancy) in many cases of infertility-
- Ovulation problems – problems of egg releasing from ovary
- Poor ovarian reserve – presence of few eggs in the ovary
- Poor egg quality – egg formed is not of good quality
- Endometriosis – presence and growth of the tissue lining the uterus in places other than the uterus, e.g., in ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestine
- Irregular periods
- Amenorrhea – stopping of periods
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – hormonal condition where male hormone increases in female
- Luteal phase defects – hormonal problem where there is lack of hormone called progesterone
- Chronic miscarriage – repeated miscarriage
- Thin endometrium – thin inner lining of uterus
- Unexplained infertility – where cause of infertility is not known
- Male factors – cause of infertility lies in male partner
Role of acupuncture in Male Infertility
In cases of Male factor Infertility, acupuncture can improve sperm quality which will dramatically improve the chance of a natural pregnancy or increasing the success rate with intrauterine insemination (IUI) or In-vitro fertilization (IVF) by improving the quality of the fertilized egg (embryo) and decreasing the chance of miscarriage.
What is the role of acupuncture in treating gynaecological problems?
Acupuncture has proved to be successful in treating many gynecological disorders that accompany or contribute to Infertility like;
- Irregular menstruation – not having regular periods
- Metrorrhagia (bleeding not related to menses at irregular intervals) due to anovulation (egg not released from uterus)
- Unexplained Infertility
Acupuncture has the following potential fertility boosting benefits:
- Increase blood flow to the uterus and so inner uterine lining thickness
- Increase endorphin production, which in turn promotes the release of hormones like gonadotropin releasing hormones which are important to regulate reproduction
- Lower stress hormones responsible for infertility
- Causes the levels of fertility hormones like FSH, LH, E2, and progesterone to reach normal levels
- Normalizes the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis (the hormone path is required to be functioning normally for pregnancy to occur)
- Helps in treatment of PCOS.
Does Acupuncture help along with the infertility treatment?
- It helps to improve the chance of pregnancy by decreasing body’s physiological reaction to stress,
- Normalizes hormones to produce more follicles (eggs)
- Increase blood flow to uterus to promote attachment of fertilized egg to the inner lining of uterus (implantation of the embryo)
- Causes normalization of levels of hormones like oestrogen and progesterone to thicken the uterine lining
- Reducing the side effects of medicines
- Supporting the uterus for implantation
- For males, to improve sperm quality
- Improve the quality of an embryo and decreasing a chance of miscarriage
As patients receive a series of acupuncture treatments, many of them experience enhanced feelings of well-being such as more restful sleep, better digestion, decreased anxiety, increase of energy, etc. These physical and emotional shifts can only positively influence the chance of conceiving regardless of whether one is trying naturally or undergoing medical reproductive treatment.
Scientific data: A recent study published in Fertility and Sterility found that using acupuncture with IVF achieved a 42% clinical pregnancy rate when compared to 26 % in the control group that didn’t receive Acupuncture.
- When acupuncture was done before (3 months prior to cycle) in women, it improved the egg quality and regulated hormones
- When acupuncture was done before (3 months prior to cycle) in men, improves semen quality and quantity
- When acupuncture was done during the fertility treatment it increased the number of follicles and improved the quality of the uterine environment by relaxing uterine muscles and thickening uterine lining
- When acupuncture was done after pregnancy was established it prevented miscarriage and minimized symptoms of pregnancy
What is the period of the treatment in female partner ?
Most of the patients need minimum of 3 months of time, but regularity is important to heal a particular segment of the four – phase menstrual cycle which are:-
- Menstruation – when period occur
- Follicular phase – eggs are formed
- Ovulation – egg is released
- Luteal phase – hormone progesterone is released
A minimum of three consecutive cycles (12 treatments) begins to regulate a women’s system regardless of her age.
If using acupuncture with Assisted Reproductive technique (ART), the treatment period will vary depending on the success of the procedure. If the procedure is unsuccessful, most continue Acupuncture, for as long as they want to try to conceive.
Because of the collective healing effect of acupuncture and its ability to increase one’s fertility quotient, most of patients continue taking sittings of acupuncture.
Of all the available treatments for infertility, acupuncture isn’t one that people usually think of first. But as you’ll see here, it’s actually one of the safest and most effective treatments for infertility known to modern science.
What is the period of the treatment in male partner ?
Acupuncture can improve semen abnormalities in concentration, motility and /or morphology. If the only reason a couple can’t conceive is due to male factor infertility, then acupuncture should be considered as a primary approach.
Males should start the treatment two months prior to the fertility treatment and throughout the treatment to achieve better results. Many conditions can be alleviated very rapidly with acupuncture. Acute problems responds much faster as in any form of medical care, the patient’s attitude, diet, determination, and lifestyle will affect the outcome and course of treatment.
Are there any other complimentary actions of Acupuncture?
- Various factors which block the flow of energy like cold, cloudy weather; trauma can be removed with needling to enable the Qi & blood to flow smoothly.
- It maintains balance between Yin & Yang –
(Imbalance between Yin & Yang causes disease). The theory of Yin-Yang was used for observing and analysing the material world in ancient China. The term Yin-Yang first appeared in the book, “Book of changes” states that “Yin and Yang reflect all the forms and characteristics existing in the universe.” The ancient Chinese people found that all the aspects in nature have something opposite to them, for example, day and night, hot and cold, brightness and dimness, etc. The term Yin-Yang are applied to express these dual and opposite qualities. “Water and fire are symbols of Yin-Yang.”
- It enhances body resistance– (Du 14 is the best resistance increasing point)
- Maintenance of homeostasis– (inner environment of the body – Li 11 is the best homeostatic point)
- Tonification– Acupuncture can be used as a tonic- (Ren 6 is the best tonic point)
- Sedation and Tranquility– it has effects to calm down in hyperactive personality
- Analgesic point– can cause a local analgesic (pain relieving) effect.
- Motor recovery– useful in paralytic diseases.
In Acupuncture, in addition to correct diagnosis, selection of proper points, accurate location, required depth of needle, proper type of stimulation are also equally important, thereby making acupuncture a highly skilled art.
What is the Technique?
After diagnosis, 6 to 8 points are selected. Silver needles are inserted at each point. They are stimulated by stimulator for 20 minutes and removed. Normally one sitting a day for 20 days constitutes one course. Review is carried out after a gap of ten days before starting the next course if required. Acupuncture is the safest, simplest and the most economical and very effective system of medicine.
Auricular acupuncture is, quite simply, acupuncture done on the ear. It has become a very important branch of traditional acupuncture practice and has been used to treat a wide range of health conditions successfully.
It is based on the theory that the outer ear is a holographic system which reflects the entire human body in an inverted fetus form. It is a type of acupuncture that involves sticking needles at specific points in the outer ear in order to manage certain physical, mental or emotional conditions. It’s believed that there are over 200 acupuncture points on the outer ear, with each named after a particular area of the human anatomy. By stimulating these points, called acupoints for short, the acupuncture needle sends electrical impulse messages to the brain, which are then thought to excite other areas of the body. It was observed that stimulating the ear acupuncture points alone was enough to help patients relax and can help overcome general anxiety disorders and minor depression.
Auricular acupuncture can relieve pain in the joints and muscles, stimulate the organs and the brain itself, and achieve a number of other therapeutic effects for the patient. The outer ear is thought to be a particularly rich source of these points, which may explain the need for specialization in auricular acupuncture.
Does Acupuncture reverse Ageing process which affects Infertility?
There is correlation between Aging and fertility.there are two types of Aging: Biological and Chronological.While everyone ages at the same speed chronologically, biological aging depends on every individual lifestyle.That is the reason why every woman goes in menopause at her different age of life.
It is not possible to stop chronological aging, however, we can definitely influence the progress of biological aging. Abusive lifestyle factors such as poor diet, smoking, stress, and insufficient sleep all accelerate the cell oxidation and the biological aging process. Practicing a healthy lifestyle in addition to regular acupuncture treatments will have a positive impact in slowing down the aging process.
Does acupuncture correct hormonal imbalance?
Regular acupuncture treatments can be very helpful in regulating hormonal imbalances, although it should be noted that acupuncture does not directly alter the female hormones. Rather, acupuncture is considered to influence the hormonal regulation centers in the brain and autonomic nervous system as a result, improvement in hormonal status can occur over time.
During acupuncture for fertility treatments, the blood flow to the reproductive organs increases and ovarian function improves greatly leading to healthy ovulation and conception.
Benefits Of Fertility Acupuncture:
- Regulating the menstrual cycle
- Thickening the endometrial lining
- Enhancing cervical mucus
- Encouraging ovulation
- Reducing stress level
- Enhancing libido
- Preventing miscarriages
- Strengthening of the immune system
- Decreasing elevated levels of FSH
- Improving mobility, quality and quantity of sperm
- Correction of hormonal imbalance
Practicing a healthy lifestyle in addition to regular acupuncture treatments can have a positive impact on slowing down the natural aging process and keep your eggs healthy.
Acupuncture influences the hormonal regulation centres in the brain, the autonomic nervous system, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.
This is done over a period of months and with regular treatments. Acupuncture can help decrease high levels of FSH, which is related to the number of quality eggs a woman produces.
High FSH is connected with poor quality of eggs. This value can fluctuate and can be brought down to acceptable levels when too high in order to help a woman who has to undergo IVf treatments.
Protocols for acupuncture treatments
Acupuncture treatments should be done on a regular basis throughout your cycle. You can expect a limited effect by receiving acupuncture only around ovulation time.
It is best to receive acupuncture through out the entire menstrual cycle to obtain the most benefit.
For IUI cycles ,you should start acupuncture treatments before menses at least 10 cycles and through out ovulation induction till the day IUI is done. That means total of 20 cycles in twice a week of time through out the whole treatment.
In each session of electro acupuncture treatment, its done for 20 to 25 minutes, with a relaxing meditation advice with additional auricular beneficial points to make you more relaxed to undergo treatment without any discomfort and peaceful mind.
Acupuncture can be used to enhance the success of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. It is recommend to start regular acupuncture treatments at least 2 months prior to the beginning an IVF cycle and to continue for 1 to 2 times a week until the day of the transfer. Acupuncture IVF treatments can be continued if the IVF cycle is successful to prevent miscarriages and support a healthy pregnancy.
Acupuncture should be started before starting or preparation of IVF treatment. The advantage of it is not only physically but also mentally you get prepared for the treatment. Then along with the treatment you can take it on alternate days during stimulation ( ovulation Induction) till the day of transfer.
A number of studies have demonstrated that acupuncture influences the activity of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates important functions of the body that are not under the voluntary control. These include the heart rate, the endocrine system, and the digestive system. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two components: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
Research studies in acupuncture and infertility suggest that acupuncture helps reset the autonomic nervous system back to a balanced state.
Relaxation through acupuncture treatment regulates the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system which is important for maintenance of proper regulation of our internal function including reproductive organs.
Using meditation with fertility acupuncture helps women relax even deeper and reach a state of healing and wellbeing that activates the flow of new energy though your body and the release of old stagnant energy away from the reproductive organs.
Location of Fertility acupuncture points:
Some of the most well-known acupuncture points traditionally used for infertility are located on the lower back, sacrum, lower abdomen, and the back and inner part of the lower legs. Those regions are also considered very important from a neuroanatomical perspective. The regions are within the spinal nerve segmental innervations of the ovaries and uterus (T10-L2 and S2-S4 dermatomes)
Do you use other points besides fertility points?
Besides the fertility points, there are points on the head, neck, upper back, legs and arms that may be used in order to modulate the autonomic nervous system and further induce the relaxation response.
We believe any natural fertility treatment program should address the whole body instead of just reproductive organs. Our comprehensive fertility acupuncture treatment always includes a holistic acupuncture approach, which intends to optimize a patient’s entire organic system, produce a relaxation response, decrease stress and anxiety, and improve overall health. As a result, fertility can be greatly enhanced.
During which part of my cycle should I get acupuncture done? Should I come just before ovulation?
It is generally recommended that you receive acupuncture treatments on a regular basis, one to two times a week throughout your cycle, especially during an initial treatment period (the first two to three months) in order to correct underlying imbalances. The cumulative effect from regular acupuncture treatments can produce significant long-lasting benefits. Following the initial period, certain patients may be advised to focus the treatment on a specific phase of their menstrual cycle. Our specialized Fertility protocols utilizes different acupuncture procedures depending on the phase of menstrual cycle (during menstruation, pre-ovulation, ovulation/pre-implantation and luteal phases), in order to further potentiate the therapeutic effect and safety of the treatment.
My IVF cycle has already started. Is it too late to start acupuncture?
It is never too late to start acupuncture. While you would likely obtain more cumulative benefits from the treatment by starting earlier, it would be still beneficial to receive acupuncture in any phase of the IVF cycle.
ACUPUNCTURE AND OBESITY:
Here are three primary ways that acupuncture can help with weight loss.
First of all, acupuncture helps balance hormones. Acupuncture can increase endorphins, which reduce cravings and generally make you feel more positive. This can help reduce over eating.
It also decreases the hormones that contribute to weight gain. Both leptin and insulin levels dropped with acupuncture. Leptin regulates fat storage and metabolism and stimulates the feeling of being full. Insulin regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism and the absorption of glucose from the blood .Acupuncture may actually reduce the hormones that lead to overeating. But if leptin stimulates the feeling of being full, why is it good to have reduced levels? Like insulin-resistance, cells can become immune to the effects of leptin when the levels are too high. Many obese people have excessively high levels of leptin. When your leptin level is high, you can no longer tell when to stop eating. Restoring balance to leptin levels may help to reduce leptin-resistance, making it easier to stop eating before you overeat.
The third way that acupuncture helps with weight loss is by reducing stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can affect weight in several ways. It disrupts digestion, contributes to depression and escalates your “fight or flight” response. If you feel overwhelmed, you are more likely to binge for emotional reasons and to assume you have no time to prepare healthy meals.
And finally, acupuncture can aid digestion. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the spleen is responsible for digestion. Disharmony and imbalance in the spleen can lead to fatigue, slow metabolism, water retention, loose stools, and a feeling of heaviness. The liver is responsible for the flow of Qi, blood and emotions. Disharmony in your liver can lead to cravings and compulsive eating.
By balancing your organ system, you support weight loss both physically and psychologically.
Role of Auricular acupuncture in Obesity Management:
Auricular therapy temporarily increases your body’s metabolic rate and lowers appetite by manipulating the nervous system. It alters the sympathetic nervous system to improve resistance to insulin, which metabolizes glucose in the body. Auricular therapy elevates the levels of a hormone known as serotonin, which tones smooth muscles of the stomach, and therefore reduces abdominal fat storage. Depending on one’s weight loss goals, the treatment can be done every two to three days a week to lose up to 10 pounds of weight.
Of course with acupuncture sittings, diet managements, lifestyle modification, exercises at least 5 days a week, enough sleep these all things together work better to lose weight in a correct way and to maintain it lifelong.