If you or you and your partner are struggling to have a baby, you’re not alone. According to the Government of Canada, statistics show that around 1 out of 6 couples in Canada struggle with infertility. That’s 16%, a number that has doubled since the 1980s.
Infertility is defined by The World Health Organization (WHO) and medical professionals as a lack of conception after a reasonable period of sexual intercourse, without the use of contraception; one year for women under 35 and six months for women over 35.
The main symptom faced by those struggling with infertility is the inability to get pregnant. Individuals experiencing infertility can often have irregular or absent menstrual cycles/periods, or it may manifest as hormonal problems, including body hair growth or sexual functioning. Infertility is something that many people struggle with — it’s important to know that there are options for you and your partner to get the support you need throughout this journey.
Common causes of infertility
Infertility can be caused by a number of different factors, according to the World Health Organization, and can even occur without specific causes. It’s important to note that any infertility experienced by you or you and your partner may be the result of issues relating to both partners. Our Registered Acupuncturists explain that infertility can be a combination of 40% female reproductive issues, 40% male reproductive issues, and 20% unknown issues. While there are many factors involved with infertility, some of the most common causes include:
- – Pelvic inflammatory disease
- – Hormonal disorders, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- – Anovulation
- – Tubal blockage
- – Damage involving the uterus or fallopian tubes
- – Sperm anomalies, such as anti-sperm antibodies
- – Lifestyle factors such as chronic stress
- – Dietary factors
Treating infertility: Assessing all aspects of your health
Infertility can be extremely devastating and frustrating for anyone hoping to conceive. In most cases of infertility or difficulty conceiving, it’s hard to determine a specific cause, which can leave you feeling confused and defeated.
Causes of infertility may be the result of a health issue with either you or your partner or a combination of factors that are preventing pregnancy. To best optimise your ability to conceive, many elements of your health should be considered to understand a potential cause. An integrative approach, one that considers your overall health, lifestyle habits, stress levels and more, is the best option if you’re experiencing difficulties with fertility. One integrative health modality that is effective for treating infertility is acupuncture.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a modality within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that involves inserting tiny needles into the surface of the skin. The small, thin needles are placed along specific acupuncture points to stimulate nerve endings found below the surface of the skin. This stimulates the body’s natural healing process and flow of energy, known as Qi (pronounced “chi”).
Fertility-specialized Acupuncturists will place the needles on the acupuncture points associated with the reproductive organs. Acupuncture has been shown to improve blood flow to the reproductive organs by stimulating activity in the sympathetic nervous system, and restoring any imbalances in energy.
Benefits of acupuncture for fertility
For many people, infertility is the result of an imbalance of hormones within the body. The reproductive hormones are the ones that may specifically cause issues for fertility. According to fertility specialized Acupuncturists, acupuncture treatments help to regulate these overactive hormones. It also helps in the following ways:
- – regulating hormones to maximize ovarian health and follicle count
- – regulating menstrual cycles to remove issues
- – improving blood flow to reproductive organs such as the uterus and ovaries
- – stimulating the release of endorphins to directly mitigate the stress response
- – improving sleep and digestion
- – increasing chances of pregnancy when combined with IUI/IVF therapies
How Registered Acupuncturists can help you on your fertility journey
When seeing an Acupuncturist for fertility, you will be asked many different questions regarding your lifestyle and overall health, including your sexual and reproductive health. If you are an individual who menstruates, the Acupuncturist will ask you about patterns in your menstrual cycle as these are particularly important for evaluating reproductive health. Understanding your body’s unique sexual and hormonal patterns are key to determining a possible root cause of infertility.
After gaining an understanding of your body, including details of menstruation cycles, hormones, libido levels, and mental, emotional, and physical states, your Acupuncturist will create a fertility treatment plan unique to you. On top of the Acupuncture treatment, they will provide you with support while navigating the fertility journey. Our Registered Acupuncturists will guide you along the way, from cycle education to blood work, IVF, and more.
An Acupuncturist can also connect you to an array of other modalities to support you in your fertility journey and achieve a healthy conception. Some of these include Trauma-Informed Psychotherapy, Womb Healing, Energetic Healing, Chinese Herbalists, and more.
At Park Integrative Health, we offer many different services to support you along this journey. If you find yourself struggling with fertility, mental health counselling is a great way to help you manage and process any grief, along with other emotions that may show up during this process. Our team of Registered Psychologists and Clinical Social Workers are ready to support you in any way they can specific to you and your needs. Your Acupuncturist may also recommend you see a member of our nutrition team since nutrition can play a large role in healthy conception.
Fertility support from a team of Allied Health professionals
Our team of Acupuncturists at Park Integrative Health use complementary modalities within their practice to provide you with the most effective treatment. Rather than focusing on one symptom or aspect, our Registered Acupuncturists always treat the patient as a whole. This is done by a thorough consultation process, which involves understanding your unique body, including details of menstrual cycles, hormones, emotions and more.
Focusing on your overall mind-body connection, an effective fertility treatment plan begins with the guidance of your Acupuncturist and other Allied Health team members assigned to support you along your fertility journey.
As part of our Integrative Approach Workshop Series, we are hosting a fertility-related workshop coming up in April. On Monday, April 17, 2023, join two members of Park Integrative Health’s Allied Health Team, Jennifer Benson (Registered Provisional Psychologist) and Jennifer Kowerchuk (Registered Acupuncturist) to explore the many ways integrative medicine can support an individual’s journey through fertility.