Cramping is a symptom that is never comfortable. The twinges and spasms in your lower abdomen or lower back make it difficult to concentrate on your day and get on with things. Popping a pill of paracetamol or ibuprofen may help or for the more severe cramps, not even touch the sides. In this blogpost, we look at the question “Can Fertility Acupuncture cause cramping?”
Cramping can happen at various stages of your fertility journey.
- During a Period cycle: There’s the expected Pre-Menstrual Cramping before your period, you can get mid cycle cramping around time of ovulation, or you may have a random pattern going on where you get cramps at all times throughout the cycle.
- During IVF: Sometimes the fertility drugs have all kinds of side effects, including bloating, feeling sluggish and cramping in the lower abdomen. The drugs are dictating a lot of action down there in your pelvis, so its challenging to deal with with side effects completely, but worth a go, regardless.
- Implantation: In the case of taking a pregnancy test and its positive, cramping can also occur at the time of implantation with an implantation bleed or in early stages of pregnancy.
In several of my other blog posts I talk about the foundation of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, and that is to work WITH your body’s natural processes. So let’s look at the scenarios mentioned above in more detail to answer the question “Can Fertility Acupuncture cause cramping?”
1. Does Fertility Acupuncture cause cramping during a Period Cycle?
If someone already experiences cramping, the fundamental acupuncture treatment principle is to counter-act the cramping. In my experience, cramping IS NOT a common reaction to acupuncture.
In the event of endometriosis, heavy, clotty and painful periods, the endometrium function layer (the lining you shed) can come off in chunks and clumps of tissue, rather than a smooth flow of liquid blood. This is a tearing feeling often intense, sharp, sudden pain that can have you doubled over.
During a course of Acupuncture or Chinese Herbal Medicine Treatment, the aim is to stop pain, move stuck qi and blood and relax the muscles. I would suggest this cramping episodes may be experienced in the 1 or 2 cycles until it is managed and responding to treatment. Or it may respond much quicker than that and be under control within 1 cycle.
It should improve after continuing acupuncture & herbal treatment, so if you can persist through those few days of cramping with the right practitioner and right treatment strategy, it will subside. TCM has some fantastic herbal remedies such as ‘China Med Menstrual Relief’ that is prescribed for severe cramping and menstrual pain.
Be Aware: Ongoing, consistent cramping is NOT normal. The Risk: Ectopic Pregnancy
If you have constant ongoing cramping, this is unusual. I would stop all treatment and go to your doctor to get a referral for an internal ultrasound. You need to get a clear diagnosis on what is happening inside if the cramping is constant, because Ectopic Pregnancy could be causing a more severe cramping pattern and this definitely needs medical intervention.
The bottom line is Short term cramping = more common and accepted as an expected part of a menstrual cycle. Constant, unrelenting cramping = Not normal. Get it checked by a doctor.
2. Does Fertility Acupuncture cause Cramping During IVF?
No, its not likely. Again I would say the fertility drugs are more likely to be causing cramping here than any acupuncture would. Fertility drugs are strong and very directive to your hormones. Acupuncture can sometimes help moderate side effects, but often not make them disappear entirely.
Be Aware: Severe abdominal swelling The Risk: Ovarian Hyperstimulation
If you have sudden distention of your lower abdomen during an IVF cycle or sharp stabbing pain in that area, I would consult your doctor or fertility specialist right away. If the pain is intense, you feel unwell or is unbearable, go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital. Ovarian Hyperstimulation is a serious side effect to IVF drugs, where the ovary has been over-stimulated to produce follicles and eggs.
3. Does Fertility Acupuncture cause cramping if I’m Pregnant?
It’s not likely, but there are other reasons for cramping.
In the case of taking a pregnancy test and its positive, cramping can also occur at the time of implantation with an implantation bleed or in early stages of pregnancy. This cramping is common and considered “normal” by the medical profession. The reason is, your uterus is adjusting and accomodating the implantation of an embryo.
**If you’re faint hearted, skip this bit because its where it can sound like a horror film!**
Implantation is not a calm and quiet process.
The trophoblast cells that initiate implantation, burrow and dig down into the lining of the uterus in an aggressive way! If you think about it, the trophoblast cells are trying to make a strong implantation connection with the tissue that will aid the embryo’s survival and continue to feed its growth. Its a life and death matter, so they don’t hold back! The digging and burrowing on that microscopic level, could be causing you twinges and niggles in your pelvic area.
Cramping during early pregnancy would likely to be caused by implantation and not Acupuncture.
Be Aware: Constant spotting or bleeding The Risk: Possible miscarriage
I’m not saying this to scare you. Its ver sensible to consult your doctor or fertility specialist if you do have cramping and ongoing spotting or bleeding. This kind of cramping could be symptoms of possible miscarriage. It is always first priority to get an official medical diagnosis first. You need to be clear about what is going on.
If you were receiving Acupuncture before that, there is NO scientific evidence to suggest that Acupuncture causes bleeding in early stage Pregnancy, nor that it causes miscarriage.
What to do next:
Cramping occurs for various reasons and at different stages of the Fertility Journey.
Can Fertility Acupuncture cause cramping? This is unlikely, because treatment revolves around reducing cramping and making you more comfortable.
If you’re experiencing cramping and are worried or anxious, no matter what stage you’re at, I would highly recommend speaking to your doctor about it first. Once preliminary checks have been done, or tests completed and you have a diagnosis, then you can make a decision about how to deal with that.
If everything is A-OK, know that Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs offer some positive solutions to cramping and supporting a viable pregnancy. If you’d like to ask more questions about cramping and talk to me directly, you can email me at email@example.com