Does Fertility Acupuncture hurt? This is one of the questions that comes up when talking about Acupuncture time and time again. Sometimes I’m amazed how creative people’s imaginations can be around what is involved during an Acupuncture treatment.
No, no, no, Registered Acupuncturists aren’t sadistic, lovers of pain nor get some joy out of sticking people with needles. We are actually a genuinely caring bunch, everyday people, that lead very normal lives. Registered Acupuncturists have mastered the skill of needling gently and I’ll tell you how we do it.
“Does Fertility Acupuncture hurt?” says a worried voice on the other end of the phone. Often its a woman ringing up to enquire about my Acupuncture treatments, costs involved and trying to come clean about how the thought of needles terrify her. But the desire to conceive and have a baby overrides her fear and she wants to try whatever it takes to get closer to her dream. This continues to amaze me the lengths that women will go to, to find an answer or solution to their problem of unexplained infertility or hormone imbalance such as PCOS or Endometriosis.
My answer to those worried, anxious women is the same….NO and for several reasons.
1. Practice makes Perfect
When you work with a Registered Acupuncturist, they are a needling expert.
It depends how you define “expert”, but the four years of clinic hours treating each other and members of the public that an Acupuncture student must do through University is very thorough. Within the Acupuncture degree course, you practice needling your fellow students. By the time you have your degree in your hand, you already have four years of needling under your belt. Add to that the years spent out in the field, treating clients day in and out. I should probably add up how many treatments I’ve done since I started my practice in 2003!
Classes from the get go teach soon-to-be practitioners Needling 101 – how to apply the needles without pain or discomfort and if there is discomfort, how to remedy that or improve patient comfort levels.
2.Acupuncture is not Dry Needling.
Acupuncturists that are registered have 4 years or more of needling training, is University level. Registered Acupuncturists are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and it means you (the public) are protected (by law) during treatments.
Dry needling courses can be anywhere from a weekend to a week long. Dry needlers, then develop their skill out there in the field. It can be deeper needling including a probing technique to induce a twitch in the muscle fibres for muscular pain. This is not a requirement in Fertility Acupuncture.
It’s unfortunate that in Australia, the difference between Acupuncture & Dry needling is not explained more fully. Acupuncture is the mastered art of needling, the meridian system, as well as some other diagnostic techniques like pulse taking and tongue diagnosis that have been around for 2,000 years plus. Dry needling is a recent development.
For fertility support you definitely want to be going with a Registered or Licensed Acupuncturist, no question.
3. My Teacher always said…
Acupuncture needles mostly come packaged in something called a guide tube. This is a narrow plastic tube that you place on the skin to quickly and effectively tap the needle in.
As my teacher always said, “Be cruel with the tube, and kind with the needle.”
This means by being firm with the tube, which doesn’t penetrate the skin, it creates skin tension which makes the needle go in quickly with just one tap. Being firm with the tube just feels like pressure, and often my clients are surprised how little they feel of the needle.
3. A Registered Acupuncturist knows their tools
OK, lets talk about them….Needles. (eek!)
NEEDLE TYPE – The selection of needle type can definitely change the experience of the client. Without sounding too brutal, there are larger guage needles and smaller guage needles. If I know I am expecting someone who is needle-phobic, or worried, anxious OR it is their first treatment of Acupuncture EVER, I will ease them into the process gently. With this clients gain confidence in knowing what to expect, and then if I need to increase the guage of the needles, they don’t notice it much.
DEPTH & GUAGE – I would also use a finer needle and a shallower depth on a slighter framed person, with less body fat. This is for safety reasons of underlying tissues and blood vessels. I don’t believe depth or guage of the needle affects treatment. eg deeper isn’t necessarily better. Shallow needling can still bring about big changes in a hormone cycle. Its all about proportions and relative depth. Because everybody’s body shape is different, you need to adjust for each client.
5. A Registered Acupuncturist wants you to relax.
The whole point of a GREAT Acupuncture treatment is to help someone relax. Sure, you’re using specific treatment strategies to regulate a menstrual cycle or balance hormones, but the added bonus for everyone, is that your nervous system relaxes BY DEFAULT.
So if an Acupuncturist has a strong needling technique for you, too deep a needling technique for you, or the you simply feel uncomfortable or pain during the treatment, I think it defeats the whole purpose.
Being relaxed enhances the treatment outcomes. So the more experienced or refined the needling technique, the more comfortable the client, the more relaxed they are. Endorphines are being released, Adrenaline is being switched off. That person is experiencing their Parasympathetic nervous system, their “rest & digest” or “feed & breed” state, which makes for being more fertile, healthy and rested. Perfect for someone who is anxious or worried. Happy Days!
6. Its something you already do without realising that can help
I get my clients to breathe. Some ask why and others just go with it.
They say ten deep breaths can help you relax.
I’d take it a little further and say ten deep breaths gets you well into your parasympathetic zone and kick off the relaxation part of your acupuncture treatment.
Another reason that I also explain to clients is that it’s hard to tense up when you’re breathing out. So I usually say: “take a deep breath in for me, and out” and then tap the needle in on the out breath. I do this especially if I’m aware the point I’m about to use is likely to be a bit bitey on the way in. So Breathe, its free, its easy, we all can do this and it definitely helps you begin to get into your parasympathetic state where all the good stuff starts to happen.
There are many benefits to Acupuncture, that I wouldn’t want you to miss out, simply because you’re thinking “does fertility acupuncture hurt?” Take it from me, a self-confessed needle phobe, I have got much better at receiving acupuncture now and treatment makes you feel some much better in energy levels, calmness and hormones, it’s worth it.
If you’re worried about receiving Acupuncture or you have more questions to ask before you take the plunge (you’ll be fine) do email me! I’d love to hear your concerns and barriers to getting acupuncture and talk it out with you to see if you can overcome your fears. You can flick an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org today and I’d love to hear from you.