Acupuncture and Traditional Oriental Medicine to Enhance Fertility
Acupuncture and Traditional Oriental Medicine To Enhance Fertility
Randine Lewis, Ph.D. L.Ac. and Susan Fox, M.S., L.Ac.
Although Chinese medicine has been used to address fertility for thousands of years, only recently has acupuncture received notable press in the West for its ability to address fertility issues. In the 1990’s the World Health Organization of the United Nations first publicly recognized acupuncture’s therapeutic effect to overcome infertility. Following behind, a Swedish study noted acupuncture’s ability to improve ovarian blood flow and increase pregnancy rates. And in Germany a study verified acupuncture’s ability to improve embryo implantation rates. Because of this, there has been a trend toward utilizing acupuncture, either alone or in conjunction with other advanced fertility methods, to support the journey to pregnancy or parenthood. Some of the most cutting edge reproductive clinics in the West have begun to study Chinese medicine and incorporate acupuncture treatments to increase pregnancy rates. Acupuncture is but one tool in the entire system of Traditional Oriental Medicine, which relies upon a proper individual diagnosis, and also includes herbal medicine, lifestyle and nutritional counseling, QiGong and meditation.
Acupuncture is a system that identifies energy pathways in the body, which are referred to as meridians. There are twelve meridian systems that traverse every tissue of the body. Stimulation of acupuncture points has a regulatory effect on the nervous, circulatory and endocrine systems, reducing the tendency to be in hypersensitive Sympathetic (flight or fight) state, and shifting energies toward the Parasympathetic (rest and cleanse) system. Acupuncture alone can regulate the hormones, restoring menstrual regularity. Acupuncture points are identified for specific health issues, and an acupuncture prescription is designed to address an individual’s unique presentation of symptoms. This is particularly evident, for example, when two patients with the same conventional diagnoses will present with distinctly different symptoms.
Our “flight or fight” response directs blood flow to our extremities, which impedes circulation to our detoxification and reproductive systems. Acupuncture and abdominal massage (referred to in Traditional Oriental Medicine as Chi Nei Tsang) help redirect our energies and provide nutrition via increased circulation to our reproductive organs. Patients frequently experience a deep sense of relaxation while undergoing acupuncture treatment. which is the very source of balance they are seeking during the oftentimes stressful periods of focusing on fertility challenge.
A significant component of healing that occurs for patients undergoing acupuncture for fertility care results from the degree of intimacy that Traditional Oriental Medicine incorporates into its methods in inquiry and treatment. Because our system does not separate the emotional and spiritual “bodies” from the physical, we are often able to address these aspects as part of the whole person’s imbalance. This can be viewed from the physical effects; i.e., how acupuncture can positively affect the hypothalamus -> pituitary -> ovarian axis, or it can be viewed holistically; i.e., attending to the emotional body of the person(s) undergoing a life challenge. Certainly, should the mind/body inquiry reveal the need for psychotherapeutic intervention, one should be prepared to address such issues with a licensed psychotherapist.
Beyond the clinical setting, there is a wonderfully supportive program entitled The Fertile Soul, which holds retreats for women and couples experiencing challenges with fertility. Randine Lewis has developed a healthy, supportive retreat system that empowers attendees to understand and recapture their innate creative potential, develop lifestyle choices to prepare for and support family building and to heal patterns that do not serve their life’s goals.
To find an acupuncturist whose specialty is in the area of fertility, contact The Fertile Soul’s Clinical Excellence in Fertility practitioners at www.thefertilesoul.com.
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