Not sure about Acupuncture and enhancing your fertility? or Chinese Herbs?
Some sneaky myths may be based on old-fashioned opinion. The modernisation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) & it’s inclusion as a reputable modality by some Fertility Doctors may surprise you. This is the 21st century and Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs do have their place in helping couples successfully conceive. Let’s look at what you need to know.
Myth #1: Acupuncture doesn’t work, there’s no evidence.
Debunked: Yes there absolutely is scientific research about Acupuncture in relation to Fertility Support. Clinical trials including Randomly Controlled Trials (RCT’s) and Systematic Reviews do support the effectiveness of Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine regarding the following:
- Sperm health
- Ovulation (especially PCOS)
- Blood flow to Uterus
- Blood flow to Ovaries & Ovary health
- Effective Implantation
- Fertility in Endometriosis sufferers
- Outcomes of IVF
The Evidence to back it up
Below are the links from a leading Author on Acupuncture & Infertility, Jane Lyttleton’s website to the research papers regarding the benefits of TCM mentioned above:
- Acupuncture & Sperm
- Acupuncture & Ovulation (PCOS)
- Acupuncture & blood flow to ovaries & uterus
- Acupuncture, herbs & Endometriosis
- Acupuncture, Herbs & IVF
- Acupuncture & IVF (Embryo Transfer)
A Practitioner’s Advice: Take it step by step
I recommend the perspective of using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to FIRST enhance or improve your Fertility, rather than going into it directly associating TCM with the ultimate result – a baby.
Focusing on short term goals breaks down the enormity of some Infertility cases for the couple and prevents overwhelm and excessive distress.
This means working on any Pre-existing conditions first and seeing results with symptom relief to know your hormones are being balanced and your cycle, regulated. If it’s the case of Sperm quality, Number of eggs collected, PCOS or Endometriosis seeing any changes in test results from your Fertility doctor is the way to know things are improving.
Simple vs Complex Cases
For some couples trying naturally and using Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is enough on it’s own to successfully conceive. This would indicate their fertility issues were not too complicated.
In the case of couple having tried for years, trying IVF, incorporating Traditional Chinese Medicine, you do still hear of success stories, but they will have been dealing with a more complicated and layered case of infertility. It is possible to still improve chances when you incorporate Traditional Chinese Medicine as part of your broader fertility plans.Click here to sign up for my cheat sheet "The 5 Rookie Mistakes of couples trying IVF (and how to avoid them)"
Myth #2: Acupuncture isn’t safe
The pointy end of the stick
All needles are single use, sterilised and disposable. There is very little risk of contamination or infection. Standard precautions about hygiene, safe needle disposal and managing needle stick injury is one of the first lessons an Acupuncture student is taught. When you’re seeing an experienced and Registered Practitioner, you should feel reassured about their expertise in the area of safety.
Training & Experience
The Registered (AUS) or Licensed (U.S.) Acupuncturist has had Tertiary training over 4 years in needling. I discuss their experience and training further in Debunking Myth 4 & 5, that such practitioners certainly DO know what they’re doing.
Is Fertility Acupuncture safe?
Yes. When performed by a Registered or Licensed Acupuncturist.
There is no hinderance to IVF, actually the research says the opposite. There’s benefits and better outcomes for many using IVF & Acupuncture together.
Firstly, there is NO evidence to suggest that Acupuncture is dangerous to a woman in early or later stages of Pregnancy. So if you do conceive using IVF or Acupuncture or both, continuing treatment in Pregnancy is safe.
There is NO evidence within research, of increase miscarriage rates with the use of acupuncture.
If there is no evidence suggesting Acupuncture is harmful to a Pregnant woman, then YES, you can consider it to be safe, even beneficial during early pregnancy.
Myth #3: IVF is fine on it’s own.
Debunked: It’s hard to look into a crystal ball and say definitively that IVF alone will be successful. Sometimes it is and sometime’s it’s not. Those at higher risk are those over 40 and with pre-existing conditions such as low AMH, structural blockages or anatomical issues such as one ovary after surgery.etc.
The advertised success rates can be a bit misleading and a recent report on ABC’s 7.30 Report discussed the misleading claims some IVF clinics were making in their marketing. You can watch it here or read the written report here.
The true definition of Success.
The confusion is about what “SUCCESS RATES” actually mean. Success rates to IVF clinics mean a positive Pregnancy test. When in fact from the client’s perspective (Your Perspective!) you’re looking at LIVE BIRTH RATES. You’re in this for the real, tangible result at the end of nine months – holding a healthy baby in your arms.
Here’s another article “Five traps to be aware of when reading success rates on IVF Clinic websites.” by Senior Research Fellow at Monash University, Karin Hammarberg.
Her report stated the 2011, Australian & New Zealand IVF statistics reported the REAL success rate (live birth rate) at 17%.
However, Clinical research does show that for women in the group of a 35% chance of conceiving or less, incorporating Acupuncture can increase success rates meaning pregnancy rates & live birth rates. You can read multiple clinical trial publications here.
My reasoning is What have you got to lose? IVF is not cheap and you’re investing your money in this, why not do everything you can to maximise your outcome?Click here to sign up for my cheat sheet "The 5 Rookie Mistakes of couples trying IVF (and how to avoid them)"
Myth #4: Chinese Medicine is a pseudo-science.
Debunked: Actually I went to The University of Technology, Sydney to get my degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Guess what department I was in? Yep, the Science department!
In Australia, Traditional Chinese Medicine is a Health Science degree, just like physiotherapy. We studied in with nursing, forensic medicine and medical students for our foundational layers of study including Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology, Pathophysiology, Chemistry & Physics.
There are extreme groups within the Medical community that reject Complementary Medicine, including Acupuncture, but they’re a minority and often highly biased, or are not up to date with the latest research on Complementary Medicine.
The simple 3 facts that definitively stake Acupuncture’s claim in the modern Scientific community are as follows:
(a) Clinical research is being conducted across the globe on Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine to better understand how it works, because it DOES work, Science is trying to catch up and figure out it’s mechanisms.
(b) The World Health Organisation does recognise Acupuncture as a form of effective treatment for specific conditions and bases their judgement on clinical trials as evidence. You can view this extensive list here. It was published in 2003.
(c) Registration of Acupuncturists & Chinese Herbal Medicine Practitioners. In 2012 Acupuncturists & Chinese Herbal Medicine Practitioners became registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency or AHPRA. Just like Doctors, Dentists, Nurses, Midwives, Podiatrists, Chiropractors, Osteopaths & Physiotherapists – Acupuncturists & Chinese Herbal Medicine Practitioners are now held to a high standard of duty of care to the public. This responsibility and accountability raises the credibility of the profession as a valid healthcare modality.
The criteria to become registered involved scrutinizing all Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Practitioner’s credentials & qualifications, making sure they were of University level.
Myth #5: Natural Therapists are charlatans.
Debunked: Well, this is an opinion and a myth, not a fact.
Now that Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine is registered with AHPRA, this means they must adhere to the following criteria annually, just like Doctors:
- Association membership
- Professional Indemnity & Public Liability Insurances
- First Aid training
- Continuing Professional Development (CPD/CPE)
AHPRA has strict standards for their registered practitioners, including their registration status being stripped if they are found to be making misleading claims or false advertising just like Doctors or any other registered profession. AHPRA protects the public against any negligence or malpractice for any registered profession.
Complementary Medicine Associations such as The Australian Traditional Medicine Association (ATMS), The Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) and Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) have ethics standards, do lobby the State & Federal Governments to support the Natural Therapy Industry’s interests and maintain a high expectations on their members.
The summary is – Nowadays, there are very high standards expected of Acupuncturists & Chinese Herbal Medicine Practitioners. For Practitioners to continue to do what they love, help people and stay in practice, they must be meeting these criteria & high standards, otherwise they are dismissed. So all “charlatans” would then be weeded out with these systems in place.
Why would Government bodies such as AHPRA & The Department of Education & Training approve Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine if they did not see merit in them for effectiveness that is evidence based?
And personally, doing the right thing by a client or the public in general is my only motive. I wouldn’t put my career and financial survival at risk, by doing otherwise. There is no benefit or advantage in misleading people. When Practitioners are authentic, they want to help people and achieve results. It’s called contributing to the greater good.
The bottom line is if you’re thinking about Myth 4 or 5 then what I’m offering – Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine – is probably not for you and that’s okay.
If you’re trying IVF and want to know more click here:Click here to sign up for my cheat sheet "The 5 Rookie Mistakes of couples trying IVF (and how to avoid them)"