She takes another test out of the box.
“Maybe this time,” she thinks. Holding on to her last bit of hope, she waits. She takes a deep breath, and waits for the two pink lines that will change her life.
For approximately 6.1 million women each year, the pink lines may never come.
One in ten women across the U.S. is affected by infertility. Infertility means that a woman is unable to get pregnant after a year of trying, or after trying for six months if she is 35 or older.
Although both men and women can have issues that lead to infertility, it’s usually the woman who is most impacted physically. In order to determine the root of fertility problems, a woman may be asked to track her body temperature, have dye injected into her uterus for x-rays, or even have a camera surgically inserted to view her ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.
Some women may look to costly options like embryo transfers and IVF–treatments that can cost as much as $12,400 a cycle.
Acupuncture may be a more cost effective solution for women trying to conceive. A recent study shows that acupuncture can increase a woman’s chances of becoming a mom by 42.5 percent.
The ancient treatment has been used to combat migraines, digestive issues, and asthma; reduce stress, and treat anxiety and depression for more than 2,500 years.
By moving the flow of energy, or chi, from one part of the body to another, acupuncture is used to alleviate the symptoms of allergies, sciatica, insomnia, hypertension, fibromyalgia, and infertility.
Michael Fox, a National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) diplomate shared information about the benefits of acupuncture and what women can expect with treatment.
How can acupuncture help with infertility?
The number one way acupuncture helps improve fertility is by reducing stress and the disruptive hormonal stress responses in both women and men. High stress can create elevated cortisol which can then disrupt normal production of all reproductive hormones, sleep cycles, normal sperm production, and regular ovulation. It can also effectively tackle other significant issues like PCOS, endometriosis, and thyroid disorders. According to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), if a couple is pursuing IVF therapy, acupuncture improves its success rate dramatically.
How soon can a woman tell if acupuncture is helping?
Most women notice immediate improvement in stress responses and normalized sleep. Often the improvement fluctuates as life events intervene, but over time women are able to better handle the highs and lows. Chronic issues such as irregular menstruation, hormonal imbalances, and endometriosis will require longer to see sustained improvement.
How many sessions are recommended?
This will vary with the severity and frequency of the issue; many acupuncturists recommend weekly visits for three to six months for fertility improvements. Some conditions require more frequent visits. Generally, as overall health improves, the frequency of the visits can be reduced.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Generally not, although there is often a prick upon insertion. Some patients are more sensitive to needle insertion than others. Acupuncture needles are quite different from the hypodermic needles used for injections and blood draws. Hypodermics are rigid hollowed surgical instruments, designed to cut and extract or to cut and inject. Acupuncture needles are solid and flexible, designed to separate and remain in place for a short time. Depending on the gauge of needle used, 30 to 50 acupuncture needles will fit inside a hypodermic used for blood draw. Many describe the acupuncture needle insertion as very mild, similar to an eyebrow being plucked or a rose thorn prick.
For more information on how acupuncture can increase chances of pregnancy, visit NCCAOM’s Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM ) News and Resource Center.
Michael L. Fox, PhD., Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM), L.Ac. is a California licensed acupuncturist with a PhD in Oriental Medicine. He currently serves as the president of the California Acupuncture Association, and practices at Silverlake Acupuncture.