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Treating the Psychological Pains of Infertility with Acupuncture

By Dongfeng Zhou, AP, DAOM

By Dongfeng Zhou, AP, DAOM

In today’s contemporary world, parents instill in the girl child the virtue of getting married and having their own kids. Just before adulthood happens, a little girl has baby dolls, helping her understand how important it is to have her kids. Aside from the home, it is noteworthy that religious organizations, peers, and the media paint various pictures to depict how crucial motherhood is.

As a result, the girl child grows with enormous pressure of meeting a spouse and raising a family. When she finally meets her Prince Charming, everyone expects them to start having kids. For a good number of them, having kids happens effortlessly. On the other hand, some struggle to have theirs because the couple is infertile – a challenge nobody saw coming.

Infertility and Psychological Pains  

A couple is infertile if they cannot conceive after 18 months of having regular unprotected sexual intercourse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 6% of reproductive women aged between 15 and 44 years are infertile in the United States. When a couple is struggling with the condition, they are drained financially and psychologically. Much as the society tends to focus on the woman, men are not entirely exenterated because poor sperm quality leads to subfertility.

However, men tend to manage the psychological pain better than the females. This is largely because they can repress their feelings, but the same cannot be said of the female counterparts. Studies have shown that a sizable number of women slide into depression, emotional distress, and anxiety when they are faced with the ordeal. Although this could be due to several factors, one of them is the physical demands of treating infertility. These physical demands include blood tests, ultrasounds, egg retrieval, and surgery. When women carry these psychological burdens, they tend to hide them, culminating in increased feelings of shame and isolation.

Solving Infertility Using ART

Infertile women are likely to go for medical treatments to tackle the problem. This process comes with a rollercoaster of hope and disappointment. While undergoing the sessions, they often put their lives on hold. Because assisted reproductive technology (ART) is the most common treatment method in the United States, a plethora of infertile women settle for it. ARTs include in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), embryo transfer, intrauterine insemination (IUI). Of all the aforementioned ARTs, IVF is the most commonly used method in the US. Despite of the advancement of medical sciences, IVF success rate depends on a number of factors, including a woman’s age, cause of subfertility, and use of donor eggs. The 2017 CDC report estimates that 1.7% of the children born in the United States are a result of ART treatments. The same report reveals that the IVF success rate among women younger than 35 years is 54%.

Coping with the Psychological Impact of Infertility

Despite going through series or cycles of ART treatments, couples end up no bearing their own kids. In some cases, these women suspend their education, postpone their vacations, and disrupt their careers in the hopes that they will get some positive results. But that never happens. With respect to cost implication, IVF is an expensive procedure. For instance, medical experts estimate that it costs between $10,000 and $15,000 per cycle. This sum excludes the medications that go for $1500 and $3000 per cycle. Coughing up the sum for the procedure means so much for the average American women. In spite of the huge financial burden, it is rather disheartening that the procedure may not lead to the desired result.

To cope with the challenge, you need to remember that IVF is no foolproof procedure, as its success rate is estimated at 54%. It is safe to state that it is a 50-50 thing. So, brace up for the downs while you hope for the best. If you didn’t get a positive result, it is not your fault, so you don’t have to blame yourself. Also, ensure that you agree with your partner before undergoing the treatment. Given the cost of the procedure, you should decide how much you are willing to spend on the procedure. If possible, speak with people who have gone through that procedure for some morale boost. More importantly, if you have already tried only ART but it didn’t work, you should try acupuncture. In fact, it is ideal to combine the two remedies.  But why? You will find out shortly.

Treating the Psychological Pain of Infertility with Acupuncture  

Researchers have carried out several clinical trials to show that acupuncture can improve ART outcomes. From China to Australia, Brazil to Germany, Iran to the United States, numerous clinical trials have shown higher clinical pregnancy and live birth rates are the outcomes of combining the two therapies.

From Western medical perspective, acupuncture is potent for treating infertility because it:

  • Relieves stress and bodily pains
  • Corrects the body’s neuroendocrine system
  • Stimulates sperm production in infertile men
  • Boosts the flow of blood through the reproductive organs (ovaries and uterus)
  • Balances the relevant hormones.

 

The Chinese therapy primes the body in preparation for conception. Studies have suggested that acupuncture can increase infertility treatment rate by 50% or more. For instance, in a 2002 study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the team showed that acupuncture has a 65% clinical pregnancy success rate. Interestingly enough, many US couples have come forward to proclaim that the Chinese remedy is effective when combined with IVF. Infertile couples often have to choose between settling for acupuncture-only treatment or in conjunction with IVF. But then, available studies indicate that the combination is better. Once an acupuncturist treats your subfertility, there wouldn’t be any room for its psychological pains anymore. Sure, this is the time-tested approach to managing the mental pain of infertility. To learn more about how it works, contact us now…

References

  1. C Bouchez. The Ancient Art of Infertility Treatment. https://acupuncture4fertility.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Web-MD-fertility-acupuncture.pdf. Revised October 13, 2003. Accessed October 3, 2021.
  2. C Sinai. Infertility and Mental Health. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/infertility-mental-health.html. Revised September 8, 2020. Accessed October 3, 2021.
  3. Fertility (Getting Pregnant). Baby Center. https://www.babycenter.com/getting-pregnant/fertility. Accessed October 4, 2021.
  4. Infertility (Reproductive Health): Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm. Accessed October 3, 2021.
  5. K Ding. The emotional impact of fertility problems. https://www.babycenter.com/getting-pregnant/fertility/the-emotional-impact-of-fertility-problems_3933. Accessed October 3, 2021.
  6. LH Rubin. How Acupuncture Impacts IBF Success Rates. https://www.fertilityiq.com/topics/acupuncture-for-fertility/how-acupuncture-impacts-ivf-success-rates#:~:text=The%20women%20who%20added%20more,Acupuncture%20helped%20their%20IVF%20outcomes. Accessed October 3, 2021.
  7. N Todd. Infertility and in vitro fertilization. https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/in-vitro-fertilization. Revised August 1, 2021. Accessed October 3, 2021.
  8. S Gordon. Acupuncture may boost success pregnancy rates. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=154059. Revised January 27, 2021. Accessed October 2, 2021.
  9. S LaCroix. Therapists’ top tips for coping with fertility problems. https://www.babycenter.com/getting-pregnant/fertility/therapists-top-tips-for-coping-with-fertility-problems_3935. Accessed October 3, 2021.
  10. S Novak. Can acupuncture help get pregnant? https://www.whattoexpect.com/getting-pregnant/prepping-for-pregnancy/acupuncture-for-fertility/. Revised April 7, 2020. Accessed October 2, 2021.
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