There is a wide array of natural healing methods that aid in infertility; acupuncture combined with moxibustion is one of them. Acupuncture aids in the health of the whole person, healing many different aspects of the person. This includes not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well. Acupuncture is whole body healing; this therapy is recommended as part of general health maintenance.
If you are a person who has never tried acupuncture, it may seem scary. Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into the body to stimulate healing. A complete intake form and assessment is done with the patient prior to treatment. It is very similar to going to any sort of health practitioner’s office.
The acupuncturist chooses certain points on the body to insert the needles, based on what they feel needs to be stimulated for healing. The needles are inserted using a gentle tap. The practitioner then manipulates the needles. The needles used are very thin and most points are painless. The needles are not inserted very deep.
Some Acupuncturists find that using moxibustion in combination with acupuncture greatly enhances the healing of infertility. There are different types of moxibustion, also called moxa. Moxa comes from the word mugosa, which means Mugwort herb. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is burned in different ways for moxa treatment. The intention of using moxa is to bring heat to the area being treated. Mugwort is known to stimulate blood flow to the pelvic area, especially the uterus. This enhances the healing benefits of acupuncture. It is especially effective for what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) refers to as blood stasis, or a cold uterus. This is explained more in the interview below. You can see acupuncture and moxibustion treatment being performed in this video…
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Interview with Acupuncturist Alicia De Martin, L.Ac.
NFI: How can Acupuncture support healthy fertility?
Alicia: Acupuncture enhances circulation of blood in the pelvis, relaxes the cervix and uterus, regulates the menstrual cycle, and can even dissolve small fibroids, when combined with Chinese herbal therapy. Acupuncture is also helpful in regulating hormone levels- especially low progesterone, and treating PCOS. Acupuncture is also excellent at treating stress and anxiety, which often occur with a diagnosis of infertility.
NFI: Can acupuncture be complementary treatment for medical fertility treatments?
Alicia: Absolutely. In fact, fertility MDs often recommend acupuncture treatments while a patient is undergoing IVF, as acupuncture has been clinically found to enhance success rates of IVF from 40-60%!
NFI: Who is a good candidate for acupuncture specific to fertility?
Alicia: I have worked successfully with patients who have a diagnosis of poor pelvic blood flow, blocked fallopian tubes, PCOS, and luteal phase defect. Often, there is not a definite western medical diagnosis for the infertility, but Chinese medicine can uncover more subtle imbalances that are at the root of a patient’s infertility.
NFI: Is acupuncture for fertility good for men as well? Can it aid in low sperm health and count?
Alicia: Yes. Chinese herbs are often used in combination with acupuncture for poor sperm count, mobility or morphology issues. Sperm health is related to general health. In TCM, we believe that poor sperm health can be addressed in looking at the diet and lifestyle of the patient as well, so I often recommend diet and lifestyle changes.
NFI: Women already receiving acupuncture for fertility often wonder what a cold uterus means; could you please explain.
Alicia: I see lots of this presentation clinically! Working (or playing!) outside in the cold during menses or with an exposed midsection allows cold to enter into the uterus through the open cervix or umbilicus. Cold causes cramps made better with heat application to the belly, as well as other symptoms. Cold creates stagnation of qi and blood and can lead to issues with the menstrual cycle and eventually to fertility issues if the stagnation is severe enough. Cold uterus is treated through a combination of moxibustion (needle-top moxa) and internally-warming herbs.
NFI: What is moxibustion? How does it aid in healthy fertility?
Alicia: Moxibustion is the application of prepared Artemesia that is lit and burned either directly on an acupuncture point, or used to warm the acupuncture needle by heating the needle shaft with moxa burning on the handle. Moxa is warming, moving, and tonifying and I often use it to warm the uterus.
NFI: For women preparing for IVF, how far in advance of the transfer should a woman begin acupuncture? How often after the transfer should she get acupuncture?
Alicia: As soon as a woman knows she will begin IVF cycle is the best time, ideally. At the very least 1 month before transfer, twice per week. After the transfer within 24 hours ideally.
If you are someone who has suffered with difficulties in trying to conceive, or have known fertility issues such as PCOS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, etc., you may want to consider acupuncture as part of your Natural Fertility healing plan. If you are a woman that already receives acupuncture regularly, but have never had moxibustion done, ask your acupuncturist if it may be right for you.
It is important to remember that acupuncture cannot be as effective if other healthy lifestyle habits are not in place, such as proper diet and exercise! Be well and walk in peace!
Special thanks to Alicia DeMartin, L.Ac. for sharing her expertise with us! Alicia lives and practices in Fairfield, CT.
- Millstine, D., MD. (n.d.). Acupuncture – Special Subjects. Retrieved from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/special-subjects/integrative,-complementary,-and-alternative-medicine/acupuncture
- Millstine, D., MD. (n.d.). Moxibustion – Special Subjects. Retrieved from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/special-subjects/integrative,-complementary,-and-alternative-medicine/moxibustion