Acupuncture along with appropriate specific supplements are hugely beneficial in preparing for conception – for both men and women; optimising nutrition in the blood, and regulating hormones; and improving sperm.
Read on… to the very end…
When thinking of embarking on your journey to becoming a parent, like a good girl/boy-scout – be prepared. You need to give yourself at least 3 cycles/months to prepare hormonally, physically and mentally; to receive treatment and allow your body to respond in achieving best conditions for successful conception and pregnancy. This also applies to those already on the IVF road. For best benefit don’t wait until you have a transfer date to get some acupuncture e.g. 4 weeks or less before transfer; if possible engage with acupuncture and specific nutrition at least 3 months beforehand.
To make a healthy baby we have to start with healthy parents, that means being at your physical, emotional and mental best before conception.
Nutrition is so important to our overall health, especially when it comes to making babies. Think of making a cake – you want to put in the best quality ingredient and have an optimum, well-calibrated oven to get out the best cake!
You cannot overlook how your lifestyle and how you take care of yourselves might be contributing to having difficulty conceiving. It is so important to nurture the female body BEFORE conception, then during pregnancy and birth, and then of course caring properly for the newborn and the mother, especially if mum chooses to breastfeed. You are laying the foundation for the rest of life.
It is also of equal importance for the Dad to nurture his body BEFORE conception to have the best quality sperm.
Ideally, you should be having a good quality period at regular intervals, with bright red blood, little to no clots, and little to no PMS symptoms or pain. If you’ve been having difficult, irregular periods, very long or very short periods – they need to be regulated. To best prepare your body you will need to commit to acupuncture treatments for at least 3 menstrual cycles (approx. 3 months).
If you are unsuccessful in conceiving or maintaining pregnancy your first port of call will be your GP for some straight-forward testing such as a Full Blood Count, prolactin, FSH, LH, AMH (costs extra €40-€50), oestrogen & progesterone (Day 3 & 21). The GP can refer you for a Hysterosalpingography, HSG (an X-ray to look at your fallopian tubes and uterus) to rule out any blockages or abnormalities. This is all done before heading down the IVF road.
It takes approx. 74 days to produce sperm so acupuncture needs to be undertaken three months in advance.
Poor morphology and low sperm count: This is becoming a more prevalent problem in the industrialised world. This needs to be addressed using nutrition in addition to acupuncture. Unfortunately poor morphology has been linked to early miscarriage. The good news is that you can improve the quality of your sperm as it’s made from scratch!
Again, if unsuccessful in conceiving or maintaining pregnancy, testing is in order. Your GP can refer you to a fertility clinic to carry out a full semen analysis. Full Blood Count is beneficial for general state of health, but hormonal balance should also be checked, such as FSH, LH, testosterone and prolactin if semen analysis results are poor.
Other factors affecting male fertility
- Varioceles – enlarged veins around the testes which can inhibit sperm production and perhaps motility (and may later lead to prostate problems)
- Damage to the testes
- Genetic or birth defects
- Mumps before or during puberty
- Retrograde ejaculation (damaged nerves, diabetes, STIs)
- Impotence or inability to ejaculate (stress, anxiety, diabetes)
- Previous recreational drug use e.g. cocaine
- Emotional challenges – fear, anxiety, preoccupation, resentment, depression, guilt, shame, etc.
- Over work – It’s common for work to encompass full time plus evenings plus weekends; also domestic responsibilities have increased. Overwork often comes with
- erratic eating schedule
- scanty or no breakfast – coffee and pastry
- skipping lunch or grabbing a sandwich in front of computer or on the go
- eating too much, too rich, too late in the evening
- grab and go diet leads to decreased libido, decreased fertility
- overtaxation is damaging
- Working in hot environments; this can be a common issue for chefs working all day in front of a stove. The testicles hang outside the body for a good reason – a cooler temperature.
- Mobile phones in pockets! Electrical devices give off electromagnetic radiation, so no more phones in pockets – you don’t want to damage or cook your swimmers!
In Chinese Medicine our first step is to look at what’s out of balance, address that with diet, lifestyle and acupuncture, thereby supporting the body in naturally restoring normal reproductive function. If ART is still required acupuncture is very beneficial in preparing for implantation and subsequent pregnancy.
- Many people are not infertile, they are sub-fertile, only 5% are truly infertile
- 40% is a male factor.
- Poor food, air, water and rest/exercise have a large part to play.
Pregnancy is the result of a fine balancing act between hormones and resources, plus some healthy sperm. Acupuncture and specific nutrition/supplements are used to promote this balance of optimum uterine lining, progesterone levels, and a regulated period. The male is also treated, especially if there is low motility or morphology. 4-10% morphology has been classed as ‘moderately abnormal’; 10-15% morphology as ‘mildly abnormal’; and greater than or equal to 15% as ‘normal’. Studies show there is a relationship between sperm shape and caffeine, alcohol and tobacco use. Obesity has also been associated with problems with sperm production.
Naturopathic treatment (acupuncture, nutrition, lifestyle) improves your odds of conceiving naturally – and also successful IVF, hence the benefit of engaging with acupuncture and naturopathy months in advance of IVF.
To support IVF the Paulus Protocol acupuncture can be carried out pre-transfer on the day-before or day-of transfer; and a post-transfer treatment is carried out the day after transfer.