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How Acupuncture Can Support Egg Donors and Prospective Parents

acupuncture for infertility dc

How Acupuncture Can Support Egg Donors and Prospective Parents

The practice of acupuncture originated thousands of years ago in China.  The medicine is based on the concept of qi (pronounced “chee”), which is the life force that flows through us.  An acupuncturist uses thin needles to manipulate qi to optimize its flow through the body.  This brings the body into an energetic balance that creates the space for physical, mental and spiritual health.
I see my role as an acupuncturist as similar to that of a gardener.  Every gardener knows that you cannot force a flower to grow or bloom.  Rather, the job of the gardener is to create the optimal environment for his or her plants by tending the soil and ensuring that each plant has access to proper sunlight, water, and nutrients.  A skilled gardener would look at the needs of each unique plant and tend to it accordingly.  This is exactly what an acupuncturist does to support the unique individual coming in for treatment.  Acupuncture can assist in creating the best possible environment for each person’s health, including fertility.
So, while acupuncture can help bring an individual into energetic balance, optimizing organ function and flow of emotions, the question that egg donors and prospective parents really want to know is, What are the benefits of acupuncture for my specific fertility goals?
Research suggests that acupuncture affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. These glands (the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the gonads) -- one of whose primary responsibilities is reproduction -- each excrete hormones, communicate with one another, and rely on the functions of the other two in order to function itself.  On a practical level, these three glands act as one endocrine gland.  For example, the hypothalamus excretes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which signals the pituitary gland to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), and the gonads (in women, the ovary) excrete testosterone and estrogen.  Acupuncture is a powerful tool that can help improve communication among the axis and strengthen the functions of the glands, thereby supporting fertility.
Benefits of acupuncture for egg donors may include:

  • Increasing blood flow to the ovaries and lowering elevated FSH levels, leading to improved egg quality
  • Reducing side effects of hormone treatments
  • Stress reduction and emotional support

Benefits of acupuncture for prospective parents may include:

  • Improved rates of pregnancy and live birth ratios among women undergoing IVF treatment1.
  • Increasing blood flow to the uterus2 and endometrial lining, enhancing the chances of successful implantation
  • Reducing side effects of hormone treatments
  • Stress reduction and emotional support
  • Supporting a healthy pregnancy and assisting with symptoms such as nausea, headaches, swelling, heartburn, and insomnia.
  • Post-partum support, including recovery, breast milk production, and emotional support

In general, I recommend seeking weekly treatment for three months in order to bring balance to the body (tending the garden), and then twice a week during cycling.  Tapping into the power of this ancient healing modality can be an excellent non-invasive adjunctive therapy to support you during this exciting and emotional time.

Ashley Mahood Paraiso is a Licensed Acupuncturist at Earley Wellness Group in Washington, DC.  She received her master’s degree in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine at Maryland University of Integrative Health.  She is passionate about supporting individuals and couples during conception and throughout the pregnancy and post-partum period.

Getting Started

Several of the practitioners at Earley Wellness Group have a fertility specialty. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can see results. So make an appointment today

  1. BMJ 2008; 336: 545.  Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis.
  2. Hum Reprod. 1996 Jun;11(6):1314-7.  Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture.

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