Over the past several years, we have seen more women than ever before seeking our acupuncture services for help in getting pregnant. Surprisingly, fertility issues affect about 15 percent of couples in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and there seems to be a a number of reasons that this is happening. Many couples are waiting until their 30’s and 40’s to become pregnant, which can create fertility issues. In addition, the prevalence of plastics and other hormone disrupting chemicals found in everything from our cleaning products to cosmetics has increased dramatically over the past several decades. Food additives, pesticides, and GMO ingredients in our food may also play a role in impairing fertility.
The women who seek out acupuncture do so for a variety of reasons. Many want to explore acupuncture as a solution before they turn to Western fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI). Many women choose acupuncture first because they want to avoid the hormonal manipulation of the Western treatments, find acupuncture to be a less time-consuming and less expensive solution, or simply want to become naturally. Others have used acupuncture to support their Western fertility treatments.
Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture can offer a number of benefits for women trying to become pregnant. Research on the physiological effects of Chinese medicine has documented that acupuncture alters brain chemistry in a way that reduces stress, (a huge factor for couples who are struggling with fertility issues). In addition, acupuncture has been found to regulate hormones, increase the circulation of blood to the reproductive organs, and Chinese herbs have been found to be helpful in regulating the menstrual cycle.
Practitioners of Chinese medicine have a variety of tools in which to help women trying to become pregnant, including acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary modifications, and lifestyle changes. In addition, if you are trying to get pregnant, there are a number of things that you can do on your own to help increase your chances. Some steps to take include:
-If you are a coffee drinker, decrease the amount you drink or cut it out altogether. New research indicates that coffee may slightly increase your risk for fertility issues.
-Eat organic foods when possible. This will help decrease the additives, genetically modified foods, and potentially hormone disrupting pesticides that you ingest.
-What you put on your skin makes a difference, too. Check out the Environmental Working Group‘s website for hormone disrupting chemicals in your cosmetics and skin care products.
-Get the chemicals out of your home by using natural cleaning products, glass containers (rather than plastic) when possible, and avoid BPA (bisphenol A) products in your food containers and packaging.
-Aim for a Mediterranean-type diet, with lots of plant-based foods, healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, and seeds, fish, and limited sweets and heavy meats.
-Maintain a healthy weight. Being dramatically underweight or overweight can affect fertility.
-Your body heals and rejuvenates while you sleep–make sure you’re getting enough.
-Struggling with fertility issues is stressful, and that stress impacts your health negatively in a number of ways. Do whatever it takes to deal with the stress, whether it’s getting a massage, acupuncture, meditation, or quiet time in the woods.