You've already had at least one child, but now you want another baby and can't seem to get pregnant. The inability to have a child after already conceiving and carrying a baby to term is called secondary infertility and affects more than 3 million women in the U.S.
Researchers are looking into the use of alternative medical therapies, such as acupuncture, to help increase fertility. During an acupuncture treatment session, very fine needles are inserted into specific places in the body. In Chinese medicine, this helps to "unblock" life force, also called qi. Western doctors believe it has something to do with stimulating the body's natural painkillers and improving blood flow.
Acupuncture can work on the body in many ways to improve your chances of getting pregnant. In fact, in one study performed on women who were undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, those who had acupuncture immediately after an embryo was implanted got pregnant 64.7 percent of the time, compared to those without acupuncture who got pregnant at only a 42.5 percent rate.
Here's how acupuncture may be helping fertility:
If you've seen a doctor to rule out any obvious issues that may be preventing you from getting pregnant, it may be that stress is playing a big role. It isn't just that not being able to conceive causes stress. Researchers have known for a long time that stress hormones can impact the female reproductive organs and affect normal cycles of ovulation.
But it's not as easy as just trying to relax. You may need some help from acupuncture, which can help prepare your body physically to get pregnant.
Increasing Blood Flow
Some women may not be getting enough circulation to the female reproductive system -- a problem that is unlikely to show symptoms but could be to blame for problems with conceiving and carrying a baby to term.
Acupuncture can improve blood flow to the ovaries and the uterus, and ideally can help the uterine lining to more easily thicken, providing the best environment for an embryo to implant.
Improving Hormone Production
In addition to reducing the hormones that can cause stress, acupuncture can also prompt the brain to release more hormones that impact the ovaries, thyroid and adrenal glands, which can all help with reproduction. An increased amount of hormones working properly in the body can set the stage for a successful conception.
If you have concerns about infertility, talk to your doctor. Many medical professionals recommend acupuncture as a fertility treatment, and you can determine if it might be a good solution for you.