Acupuncture has been used as a beneficial medical treatment in China for over two thousand years.
During acupuncture, thin disposable needles are inserted into specific points in the body to restore balance and promote the normal flow of qi along meridians. These channels of energy have over three hundred acupuncture points located along them, each with specific functions to enhance the health of the body.
Acupuncture is not like an injection. Most people may feel some heaviness, numbness or warmth around the point, or a slight radiating along the meridian, followed by a feeling of relaxation.
Other treatments can involve moxibustion, in which penetrating heat from a burning Chinese herb is used to warm acupoints in order to tonify or to promote flow of qi; or cupping, the application of warmed glass cups to certain areas of the body to help pain or blockages and release toxins.
In Chinese medicine a dynamic balance between yin and yang and a smooth flow of qi is necessary for health. When this becomes unbalanced or blocked, illness can result. Imbalance and disruption to the flow of qi can be caused by changes in the external environment, such as weather conditions, viruses, or injury, or internally from emotions, poor nutrition, or a constitutional predisposition. Chinese medicine recognises a strong link between the reproductive system and the mind and emotions, and it follows that anxiety and stress can contribute to menstrual problems and infertility.
Acupuncture has been shown to be helpful in reducing pain, enhancing the success rate of IVF, helping with PMS symptoms, pelvic and low-back pain; nausea; functional disability; and sleep quality in pregnancy, reducing hot flushes in menopause, treating urinary tract infections, interstitial cystitis, loss of bladder control, helping with constipation, and many other disorders.
A course of acupuncture is generally 6 weekly treatments, with a break midway to allow the body to adjust. Further courses of treatment may be undertaken as needed, and the timing of treatments should be flexible during an IVF cycle to optimise results.