Menstrual irregularities may involve many different aspects of menstruation, such as the regularity of the cycle, premenstrual tension, duration of the period, amount of bleeding and pain or the absence of menstruation.
The reproductive system influences and is influenced by other aspects of your physiology and can therefore be affected by changes in your general and emotional health. For centuries, acupuncture and Chinese medicine has been used to regulate the female cycle and balance the hormonal system.
Conception, Pregnancy, Childbirth and beyond
Well and Good Acupuncture takes not only a holistic approach, but looks at the medical side of fertility, whilst also focusing on other areas of your life that may impact on your ability to conceive naturally.
In recent meta-analyses of (non-)randomised controlled trials, suggests that management of female infertility with Chinese herbal medicine can improve pregnancy rates 2-fold within a 4 month period compared with Western Medical fertility drug therapy or IVF – further reading.
Specific care is taken when treating pregnant women and this includes avoiding contraindicated points or point combinations and needle techniques. We take heed from midwives, obstetricians and doulas, to deliver the best possible care.
Different stages of pregnancy sees regular acupuncture assisting with fatigue, morning sickness, abdominal pain, threatened miscarriage, swelling, anxiety, constipation and breech presentation. Throughout labour and post birth, Chinese medicine can assist with depression, abdominal pain, discharge, bowel issues, fatigue and lactation issues.
Hormonal disorders – PCOS, Endometriosis, Fibroids
By improving blood circulation to the pelvic organs, including the ovaries and uterus, acupuncture and Chinese medicine enables the reproductive organs to work to their full potential to ensure optimal endometrial thickness, and trigger ovulation in some women with ovulatory dysfunction.
Acupuncture treats PCOS by regulating the body’s hormonal balance, energy flow, and improving blood circulation. Dietary recommendations and lifestyle changes can also assist in the treatment PCOS, and herbal medicine is generally used as an adjunct to regulate the hormonal imbalance.
Acupuncture can treat the pain associated with endometriosis and menstrual pain and help control bleeding during heavy periods. Acupuncture can also help with pain during intercourse, and urgent and painful bowel movements and urination. When endometriosis affects fertility, acupuncture can help infertility and regulate the menstrual cycle.
Modern research has shown acupuncture to reduce masses and accumulations like small fibroids, slow the growth of larger ones and halt new fibroids from forming. Acupuncture can also help with heavy periods, spotting, and breakthrough bleeding associated with fibroids.
By restoring harmony to the body’s systems overall, acupuncture can regulate the mechanisms that can cause fibroids to develop.
The time in a woman’s life from reproductive to non-reproductive reflects a gradual physiological process throughout life. Some women may not experience symptoms during this time, however, some can be very severe, influenced also by lifestyle factors.
Acupuncture has been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of heat experienced, and Chinese herbal formulas are also a great adjunct in treating the same. One possible explanation for this assistance is that acupuncture may trigger a reduction in the concentration of beta-endorphin – a neuropeptide found in the cells of the central and peripheral nervous system – in the hypothalamus of the brain. They say lower levels of beta-endorphin may activate the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which regulates body temperature.
Fertility and IVF support
Acupuncture has been used in Asia for centuries as a spur to reproduction. Acupuncture affects hormonal systems in the body, including the systems that govern reproduction, and via ultrasound studies, stimulates the flow of blood to the uterus and ovaries, therefore making the lining of the womb more receptive to the implantation of the embryo – whether conceived naturally or via assisted fertility.
Male partner is a factor in up to 50% of infertile couples. Acupuncture may ease male infertility by improving the quality of their sperm by reducing the number of structural abnormalities in sperm and increasing the overall number of normal sperm, therefore helping men reach their full reproductive potential.
The use of acupuncture is growing amongst couples turning to IVF to have a baby. As a viable and effective option to help maximise fertility and IVF outcomes, many clinics overseas and now in Australia have acupuncturists as members of their team or otherwise refer actively to external Acupuncture clinics.
Significant interest in the area of acupuncture to support IVF has led a recent Cochrane review analysing results from thirteen clinical trials and concluded that acupuncture performed on the day of embryo transfer results in a higher birth rate.
On another positive note, acupuncture reduces anxiety and stress levels by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, both which can negatively impact fertility success in males and females alike.