Infertility is more common than you think, affecting one in eight couples who are trying to grow a family. Though many couples might worry about their fertility after a few months of trying to conceive, infertility becomes a concern from a medical standpoint after 12 months or more of being unable to become pregnant. Infertility does not discriminate – research shows that men and women are equally likely to experience reproductive concerns.
The impacts of infertility can include incidence rates of depression, anxiety and stress. For some people, supplementing traditional infertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), with holistic approaches, like acupuncture, can offset some of the added stress.
“Acupuncture is known for reducing stress. This is so important for fertility clients,” shares Lauren Becker, founder of Balance Acupuncture of Charleston. “It releases endorphins, helping the whole body relax, from your muscles to your mind. The nervous system slows down, causing the blood vessels to dilate and improving blood flow. When we are more relaxed, we feel more in control, which is especially important for those undergoing fertility treatments like IVF.”
Becker specializes in supporting people through infertility, although that wasn’t always her plan. “Most of my practice is now focused on fertility; when I started my career as an acupuncturist nine years ago, I didn’t know this would become my specialty,” she said. “But gradually, I started seeing more and more women trying to improve their chances of pregnancy, and when we would get the positive pregnancy test during the course of our acupuncture treatments, it was just the most joyful feeling.”
Research has shown many benefits to acupuncture for women who are trying to conceive, beyond stress reduction. “Acupuncture improves blood flow and microcirculation to the reproductive organs, especially the ovaries and uterus,” Becker explains. “Improving circulation nourishes follicular growth and also helps build a healthier endometrial lining. Increased ovarian blood flow increases our fertility. A thick uterine lining is the ideal environment for implantation and pregnancy … Additionally, acupuncture helps improve egg quality, balances the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis which helps to balance hormones, lowers inflammation, lowers stress levels, and helps increase healthier ovulation and cervical mucus. That’s a lot of good stuff!”
Becker works with women in all stages of their family planning journey. “Some may be planning for pregnancy but haven’t started yet,” she shares, “Some have been trying for six months or a year with no success, others experiencing recurrent miscarriages and some who are undergoing IVF or IUI and have read about acupuncture’s successes in improving the odds for pregnancy through IVF/IUI. I also work with many women who are trying to conceive naturally and there has not been a history of any issues, they just want all the support they can get.”
The incredibly personal experience of infertility can be difficult to share, but more easily navigated with a supportive village. Seeking a team of knowledgeable, supportive professionals can empower couples to increase their odds of making their dreams of having a baby a reality, and offer much-needed empathy, understanding and care on the often complex path to parenthood.
Learn more at Balance Acupuncture of Charleston at balancecharleston.com.