Acupuncture for Infertility (or anything)
I wrote this months ago and put off posting it, but I keep feeling like now is the time to share it, as it's been one year since my last IVF cycle, which brought us Fisher. This post is of course for everyone, but it most specifically pertains to anyone going through fertility treatments or experiencing infertility, who is just so frustrated with the options you feel you have.
After our second round of IVF (the one that took but ended in miscarriage) I was just itching to do another round. I couldn't stand the fact that I had been through all the medications, procedures, gotten a positive test and made it several weeks for it to all be taken away, and I felt like if I was somehow able to get pregnant again within weeks that wouldn't even be fast enough. I HAD to keep going.
Then when our third round of IVF didn't work out, I just couldn't take it anymore. All motivation and drive was gone and I was just exhausted. Exhausted doesn't even accurately explain it really, but I just couldn't possibly face doing another round of treatment in the near future. During this time a dear friend (who had been through similar circumstances) messaged me. She was so wonderful in being tender and showing she understood, and she felt she should tell me about acupuncture and how it ended up making a huge difference for her. She included her feelings that just as important as it helping her in her next IVF cycle, it also significantly improved her quality of life and her ability to deal with the stresses of her circumstances.
By this time, I had heard so many "oh just do ___"or "you've gotta try ____" and I had heard so many stories of people tweaking one small thing in their IVF protocol and it just magically worked, and I was so tired of it honestly. To me I always felt like--Well that's great for you, but we've literally tried it all and nothing is working, and I highly doubt you actually know more than I do about the situation and how to make my body work. (Snarky, I know, but it's how I felt!) But this was different. I had heard here and there about acupuncture for infertility, and once I saw the recommendation by a trusted friend I immediately began to seriously consider it. After some research and preparation, I found an acupuncturist who specializes in infertility and scheduled an appointment.
Well, she was amazing. I felt strongly like this was something I needed in my life, and I decided to leave behind any reservation about acupuncture helping me with a) getting my body in the best possible place to become pregnant and b) calming the stress I felt about my life. I also read an amazing book The Infertility Cure, by Randine Lewis, PhD. It was recommended by my acupuncturist, and as I read it the concepts just totally resonated with me and helped me realize the philosophy behind acupuncture. I also felt like it meshed so well with my religious understanding, and not only did it make sense in my mind but to my spirit as well.
Acupuncture did not work over night. It's not really supposed to be an over night fix. I held off on fertility treatments for almost 9 months while I went to acupuncture on a weekly basis (but many people find it helps much more quickly than that). We tried to use acupuncture as a stand-alone treatment, and I learned that it really can change the body and allows people to become pregnant without any fertility treatments, so those of you who don't want to go the treatment/medication route, acupuncture could possibly help you! Other people go to acupuncture for a couple months before an IVF cycle and then during the IVF cycle as well (what we did) with higher success rates than IVF alone. I personally went weekly for many months, always hoping it would help us out naturally. I also followed through with my acupuncturist's recommendations on teas that she constructed herself (she is very well versed in herbal medicine) so I had specific teas 3x per day for those 9 months (it all tasted like dirt, but it helped). We finally decided to do one last round of IVF in October/November, during which I continued acupuncture (not the teas), and it FINALLY worked! I should mention that I continued to go weekly through the first trimester and monthly after that.
I don't claim to know everything about acupuncture or claim that it's a quick fix. In all honesty it didn't even get me to my goal for 10 months of going EVERY WEEK, which is not how I thought things would work out. But it did help get me to my goal eventually, and it changed me in several ways on my journey toward that goal. It significantly helped my ability to cope with stress and anxiety, changed the internal function of my body as a whole as shown by tracking my cycles and body temperature, I felt an immediate physical change with the needles placed and a level of relaxation that I literally had never felt before, it helped with MANY other general symptoms I felt on a weekly basis (cold symptoms, congestion, headaches, back & shoulder tension, etc.), and it helped me to feel like I was genuinely caring for my body and giving it what it needed.
I have no particular incentive to share any of this with you all, but it was through the recommendation of someone I knew had been through a lot that I was able to consider something I hadn't previously taken very seriously, so I wanted to pass on my experience. If anyone has any questions about acupuncture, especially as it relates to infertility, I'd be happy to tell you more. But for sure it was what I needed when I felt like there were no more options for me. I know it can address a variety of problems, including infertility due to a variety of causes. Just be sure to get a certified acupuncturist who specializes in infertility, which exists! Or if you are considering it for other medical issues, I still give acupuncture a solid recommendation. :)
I'm sending love to you all! Thanks for reading.