Research suggests that around one in six couples are likely to experience problems conceiving, with more turning to IVF and donor insemination as alternatives*. While infertility is often thought of as a female problem, only a third of cases can be linked solely to women. Fertility issues affect both male and female partners, and couples are increasingly turning to traditional acupuncture to help them conceive.
In men traditional acupuncture treatment has been shown to influence the quality and quantity of male sperm, improving the motility and count. In women, it can regulate the menstrual cycle and promote ovulation by controlling hormonal imbalances, thus helping to increase the chance of natural conception.
Not only can acupuncture have a positive impact on the patient's mental and emotional state but it has a wide range of other benefits for both male and female partners. Individuals may experience increased energy, inner strength and vitality.
When partners who are struggling to conceive both opt to have acupuncture, it can have a very positive effect, uniting them as a couple and helping to create a calmer, more relaxed state of mind. In addition, couples that have acupuncture treatment for a three to six month period may well find they can conceive naturally, negating the need for IVF treatment. If couples do chose to have IVF however, acupuncture works alongside it very effectively to increase the success rates.
Maggie Bavington, acupuncturist and member of the British Acupuncture Council says:
'In my experience and that of my patients, acupuncture has a lot to offer couples trying for a baby, whatever their diagnosis. Dealing with infertility can be extremely stressful and both parties can become tense and anxious. This can result in poor sleep or low libido, and a reluctance to keep trying because previous attempts have failed with every passing month, bringing more pressure on both people'.
'Male patients often benefit from the relaxation acupuncture brings and are overjoyed when tests show their sperm has improved. Getting pregnant is not the end of the story and I often treat women through the whole pregnancy. Of course the most rewarding part for me is when I get to meet the long awaited baby in person and see the joy of the new parents'
While some couples look to acupuncture for help with specific fertility issues or conditions, others may choose to have treatment to help maintain overall health and well being. Regulating the flow of Qi, the body's motivating energy can help boost energy levels as well as ward off illness.
Traditional acupuncture is a tried and tested system of traditional Chinese medicine, which has been used in China and other eastern cultures for thousands of years to restore, promote and maintain good health. Its benefits are now widely acknowledged all over the world and in the past decade, traditional acupuncture has begun to feature more prominently in mainstream medicine in the UK.
To find a practitioner in your area, call the British Acupuncture Council on 020 8735 0400 or visit www.acupuncture.org.uk
* Fertility: HFEA Fertility Facts & Figures (2007) published (2009) found that one in six couples are likely to experience problems conceiving. Based on 2001 ONS population estimates.
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