Research Papers on Acupuncture for Fertility
Few things can be quite as frustrating for couples attempting to conceive as infertility. While modern medical science offers a host of treatments designed to treat infertility, many couples are turning towards the traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture for fertility. Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles, painlessly but strategically, at various points along the body, designed to stimulate forms of energy, specifically qi.
In 2012, the magazine U.S. News and World Report ran a story that detailed the increasing use of acupuncture as a means of boosting fertility in both men and women. Proponents argue that acupuncture not only helps to reduce a person’s stress level but also increased blood flow to the ovaries and uterus. Increased blood flow to the uterus can help to thicken its lining, aiding in conception. Stress over infertility is often a key factor in a couple’s ability to conceive.
However, scientific results on the use of acupuncture for fertility are mixed.
- Studies suggest that a course of acupuncture shortly after conception, before an embryo implants in the uterus, were beneficial.
- A study done at a Tel Aviv University reported that acupuncture increased fertility by as much as 26 percent.
- Other studies suggest that more medical causes of infertility, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, benefited little from acupuncture.
Since ancient times, Chinese medical professionals have believed in the power of acupuncture to cure many of the diseases that throw the human body off of its natural balance. The exact historical emergence of this practice is debated by experts, some claiming the practice dates back two thousand years while others claim that it dates back four thousand years. During the last half century, the art of acupuncture has spread to the United States as well as various parts of Europe, with more practitioners in these countries springing up on a yearly basis. As the number of illnesses acupuncture and moxibustion can treat, so too, does worldwide interest.
Acupuncture is now used by practitioners around the world to treat a variety of illnesses. The therapy involves inserting very fine stainless steel needles into various points on the body. According to this Chinese healing art, there are 365 of these points on the body, all of which have a specific energetic function.
The healing concept of acupuncture is tied to the Chinese belief of natural balance in the human body. Within this concept, the theory of yin and yang are central to the understanding of how and why acupuncture works. The basic tenant of this theory holds that “life takes place in the alternating rhythm of yin and yang”.
As described by this theory, yang is a time of light and activity and yin is a time of darkness and rest. Everything in nature, including humans, experiences a constant cycle of yin and yang. The two parts make up the whole, and it is impossible to have one part without the other. In addition, a portion of each part is contained in the other so that in yang there is a portion of yin and in yin there is a portion of yang:
“Yang has its root in Yin,
Yin has its root in Yang.
Without Yin, Yang cannot arise.
Without Yang, Yin cannot be born.
Yin alone cannot arise; Yang alone cannot grow.
Yin and Yang are divisible but inseparable (Fishman 1-2).
When yin and yang within the body are in perfect balance, the individual is healthy and the life force of qi circulates throughout the body. Qi travels throughout the body through channels called meridians. There are fourteen meridian channels. If the flow of qi is interrupted in one of these channels, the natural balance of yin and yang are thrown off and illness may occur.