Statistics show that one in five couples over the age of 30 have difficulty conceiving after one year of trying. Many of these couples turn to acupuncture and Oriental medicine for a safe, effective and natural solution to having a baby.
Oriental medicine has a long history when it comes to enhancing reproductive health and fertility for both men and women. In fact, evidence that acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used to aid fertility can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD.
Fertility treatments were first recorded by Zhang Zhong Jing, a famous physician from the Han Dynasty, in his discussion of diseases in women in the Jin Gui Yao Lue or Essentials of the Golden Cabinet.
Successful conception is more likely when both partners are healthy. With acupuncture and Oriental medicine, parents can improve their health to create the most optimal environment for conception.
According to the principles of Oriental medicine, a person’s health is determined by the quality of Qi, the vital life energy, and blood circulating through the body. When Qi and blood are circulating properly, the body is properly nourished and functioning optimally which, in turn, enhances fertility.
In addition to their ability to strengthen, support, and balance overall health and well-being, acupuncture and Oriental medicine are effective in treating issues that affect reproductive health and fertility including:
- regulating the menstrual cycle
- addressing pre-existing medical conditions or concerns
- improving sperm count and motility
- reducing stress and anxiety associated with infertility
- normalizing hormone and endocrine systems
- improving blood flow in the uterus
- decreasing the chance of miscarriage
- increasing the chance of pregnancy for women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF)
Fertility treatment approaches and time-frames can vary from person to person, but are usually scheduled for at least three consecutive cycles (twelve weeks). Treatments can include acupuncture, customized herbal therapy, stress reduction and dietary counseling.
If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties with their reproductive health, please call to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Gynecological conditions, including premenstrual syndrome (PMS), fibroids, endometriosis, menopause and infertility are some of the problems treated most successfully by acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Oriental medicine has long recognized that health and vitality can be sustained over a woman’s lifetime by restoring balance within the body and supporting the natural production of essential hormones.
Premenstrual syndrome covers a broad spectrum of issues that can include emotional symptoms such as depression, irritability, sadness, anxiety, or poor concentration. PMS can also include physical symptoms, such as breast tenderness, a change in bowel habits, acne, or loss of libido. Symptoms can change from month to month and vary widely in terms of severity. Imbalances can arise from a variety of factors, including poor diet, too much work, physical or emotional trauma, constitutionally weak Qi (energy) or stress.
In Oriental medicine, the liver is considered responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (life force) throughout the body and for smoothing our emotions. When the liver’s function of moving Qi is disrupted, Qi can become stuck. This is referred to as Liver Qi Stagnation and is commonly associated with PMS. In addition to irritability and moodiness, signs and symptoms may include: distending pain in the area below the ribs, chest congestion, abdominal distention, nausea, acid reflux, belching, diarrhea or constipation, feeling of a lump in the throat, irregular periods, painful periods and swollen breasts prior to periods.
Menopause is a transitional period marking the cessation of ovulation in a woman’s body. Symptoms manifest as a woman’s body tries to adapt to decreasing amounts of estrogen. Varying from mild to severe, symptoms can include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, memory loss, dryness, headaches, joint pain and weight gain.
With its deep understanding of the female body, Oriental medicine has always addressed the special needs of women throughout their lives. Menopause, in particular, is an area in which Oriental medicine shines as it has the ability to detect energetic changes that occur in the body and quickly relieve uncomfortable symptoms that accompany the onset of menopause.
Oriental medicine does not recognize menopause as a particular syndrome and treats symptoms unique to each individual through a variety of techniques to restore imbalances found in the body.
Male Reproductive Health
Oriental medicine can help treat various male disorders. As men age, a decrease in the function of male reproductive organs occurs and they experience andropause, or male menopause. Andropause differs from menopause in that it is not characterized by a dramatic or marked physiological change.
Unlike the more dramatic reproductive hormone plunge that occurs in women during menopause, changes in men occur gradually over a period of many years. Some male reproductive health conditions that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help include premature ejaculation, low sperm count, diminished sperm motility, impotence, hernias, testicular pain, prostatitis, male infertility, and andropause.
The prostate is prone to enlargement and inflammation as men age, affecting about half of men in their sixties and up to ninety percent of men in their seventies and eighties. If left untreated, benign prostate gland enlargement, which presents with symptoms such as frequent nighttime urination, painful urination, and difficult urination, can lead to more serious conditions such as prostate cancer, urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones, and incontinence.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used to treat prostate problems to relieve the urinary symptoms and prevent more serious conditions from occurring. The few studies completed on acupuncture and prostatitis show positive results, with participants noticing a marked improvement in their quality of life, a decrease in urinary difficulties, and an increase in urinary function.
Pregnancy is an amazing time in a woman’s life. Many women report feeling healthier than they have ever felt before; however, the physical growth of the baby and changes in hormone levels can bring about pain, discomfort and a variety of health problems. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can provide a safe, effective way to address many of the health complications that may arise before, during and after pregnancy.
A growing number of women are choosing acupuncture to manage their health throughout their pregnancy and as an alternative treatment for an overdue or difficult labor.
Acupuncture during Pregnancy
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can play a vital role in the comfort of a pregnant woman.
There is strong evidence to support the belief that acupuncture is highly effective in treating some of the most common problems experienced during pregnancy.
Some of the problems that an acupuncturist often treats during pregnancy include:
- nausea, vomiting
- edema (swelling)
- pelvic pain
- neck and back pain
- leg cramps
- fatigue and exhaustion
- anxiety and depression
- water retention
Acupuncture for Childbirth
While there are acupuncture points that can provide natural pain relief during labor, acupuncture is more commonly used to induce labor. There are several points that stimulate contractions and influence cervical ripening.
Many women feel depleted after the birth experience. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help smooth the transition during those first few months after birth to ensure a quick recovery.
Some postpartum disorders that can be treated with acupuncture:
- postpartum depression
- insufficient or excessive lactation
- post-operative healing
- night sweats
Postpartum care focuses on the physical, emotional and psychological recovery of the mother from the effects of pregnancy and labor, and also supports breast feeding.