We spoke with a Dublin-based acupuncturist about how the ancient Chinese practice can help to improve fertility in both men and women
Motherhood in Ireland is steadily changing. More women are choosing to have babies later in life than ever before, with the Central Statistics Office putting the average age of a first-time mum at 32.5. Not only that, over 4,000 Irish women are having babies in their forties every year.
However, the further into our thirties we go, the more difficult it can be to conceive. Did you know the term ‘geriatric pregnancy’ is used to describe expectant mothers over the age of 35?
Of course, just because it might be more difficult to get pregnant doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and there’s a very simple treatment available to anyone who’s trying.
How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture is a traditional type of Chinese medicine, dating back 5,000 years. It’s seemingly so successful in boosting fertility that many women go back when having their second and third children. We met with Ciara Clissmann and Nina Bing Liu in their acupuncture clinic, AcuPlus, in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.
“In the first few months, we look at any underlying health issues that might be affecting someone’s fertility,” they explain. “Some of the conditions we treat include hormonal imbalances, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), autoimmune issues, multi miscarriages, and stress or anxiety.”
Acupuncture regulates the flow of energy in your body and helps to bring it back into balance. “In the treatment of fertility specifically, it helps to increase blood flow to the uterus, regulate reproductive hormones and reduce inflammation to increase chances of pregnancy.” After a baby has been conceived, further acupuncture treatments can be beneficial.
During the treatment
The process involves placing needles (similar in appearance to toothpicks) into various points of the body. It doesn’t really hurt – just a slight pinch when the needle goes in – but after that, it’s completely relaxing.
The treatment rooms in Ciara and Nina’s clinic aren’t clinical. They’re calming and almost reminiscent of a spa; with dim lighting, soothing music and lavender scent diffusers.
While the treatment is ongoing, Nina explains what each particular needle is for; meaning you’re always kept in the loop as to what’s happening and why.
The number of needles she’ll use may vary – between 10 and 30 – depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. They factor in everything from ovulation to follicle stimulation to implantation. As well as that, sessions will vary in length depending on your needs. Everything is tailored to suit you and your body in order to help you achieve the best results.
Not just a female issue
It’s important to note fertility isn’t just a female issue. Ciara and Nina treat many male patients too. “We treat male fertility factors such as low sperm count and sperm mobility/morphology.”
A study published in the journal Human Reproduction Update last year shows the average sperm count of men in the western world has fallen by almost 60% in the last 40 years. “A lot of men suffer from fertility issues,” Nina says, “and they make up 20% of our fertility patients.” Things like stress, tight underwear, and having laptops or mobile phones against their groin are potential causes of the problem. Acupuncture helps to refresh sperm, and of the male patients she’s seen so far, there’s been a very high success rate.
Patients, both male and female, are encouraged to try conceiving naturally during the first six months of acupuncture treatment. There’s a high success rate during this time (about 30%, according to Ciara and Nina) with some clients getting a positive result in their first cycle.
“After six months, if they are not successful we may suggest the assisted fertility route. We will continue to work with them throughout this process. Acupuncture can help prepare the body for a cycle of IVF or IUI by improving the quality of eggs and sperm, reducing stress and tension in the body and helping to reduce side effects from medication. It also helps clients relax during what can be an emotional and stressful time for them.”
The team works closely with medical consultants in the field to help clients get the best outcome. “We have had a close working relationship with SIMS Fertility clinic over the years as well other fertility centres.”
For more information about acupuncture for fertility, visit acuplus.ie, or call Ciara and Nina on (01) 906 5752.
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