Guest blog by Naomi Skoglund MS Ed, MSTCM, FABORM, a reproductive acupuncturist in Portland, Maine and the founder of The Body Fertile Project.
If you’re a fan of Circle + Bloom, you already know that managing stress is an important part of the fertility journey. You’ve probably also heard that an another way to manage stress and address fertility issues is by receiving regular acupuncture. But how does acupuncture actually work to help boost your fertility?
We hear this question asked all the time. A lot of people think acupuncture is a ‘woo-energy thing’ but the way it works is actually all about blood flow.
Here’s how we help by boosting fertility with acupuncture, herbs, and the wisdom of Traditional East Asian Medicine:
1) Acupuncture helps to increase blood flow along lines of fascia (connective tissue) in the body.
Everybody has heard of the IT band, right? Well just like your IT band connects to your hip, TFL, & side body, you also have fascia that connects to the pelvic muscles and organs. Relaxing this fascia and bringing the body’s attention to the pelvis improves blood flow, especially on the micro-circulation level (like all the little capillaries that go to your ovaries). Better blood flow improves organ function.
2) Herbs and dietary changes improve your blood quality.
Our herbs help to build blood, improve the flow of blood and lymph, and boost digestive function. Dietary changes like drinking bone broth and eating more warm, cooked foods are aimed at improving your nutrient absorption. Better blood quality and flow improve organ function (like liver function, ovulatory function etc).
3) Acupuncture helps to reduce inflammation.
If you have PCOS, painful periods, endometriosis or other inflammatory conditions, acupuncture and herbs can help the body to reduce inflammation and shift these patterns. Addressing these underlying patterns to improve your periods now may help you have a healthier pregnancy once you do get pregnant.
4) Acupuncture helps to lower cortisol.
Lowering cortisol allows other hormones to normalize. In our busy world, we hardly ever slow down, even our resting time is often spent on a screen. Add that blue light stimulation to the stress of experiencing infertility and the never-ending news cycle – we are often in a mini-fight-or-flight state on a regular basis. This is one reason why acupuncture and Circle + Bloom guided meditations are so powerful for your fertility.
5) We treat the whole body.
If you have other issues, like constipation, digestive bloating or insomnia for instance, those are also likely affecting your fertility. We work on these conditions too! Improving digestion and sleep affects nutrient intake, hormone levels and organ function, which improves your blood quality. Our holistic view of the body looks at the big picture.
“You say acupuncture isn’t woo, but what about this Qi thing?”
Another question people often ask about acupuncture is about “Qi”, which often gets translated as ‘energy’. “Qi” is a holistic term for all of the processes in the body that modern medicine now calls by other names. We now know that the body communicates and functions with a series of electrical and chemical reactions. Gaso-transmitters like nitric oxide regulate action in the ovaries, for instance. A calcium pump transports ATP (cellular energy) across cell membranes. Qi is really a metaphor for these various functions in the body.
Ok so the final question we get all. the. time is “When should I start acupuncture to help with infertility?”
The answer is NOW! Research shows the best outcomes with holistic treatment for at least 3 months. If you have menstrual cycle issues like irregular, heavy or painful periods, starting acupuncture even earlier is a great idea to address the underlying condition before you get pregnant. If you’re working on a shorter timeline because of an upcoming procedure, acupuncture can still help, we try to get you in for at least 8 treatments beforehand. Just know we usually can’t give you herbs while you’re on a stim cycle, so starting treatment before you get into your IVF cycle is a good idea.
Can any acupuncturist treat fertility?
No. Because of the way our medicine looks at the body, acupuncturists often treat a wide range of conditions with good results. When it comes to fertility, however, it’s really important to find an acupuncturist who specializes in treating fertility. There is a lot of specialized training and research to keep up with in the reproductive acupuncture world. If you can’t find a board-certified reproductive acupuncturist near you (through aborm.org), you should ask what percentage of an acupuncturist’s practice consists of fertility patients to make sure that they really have the experience to be able to help you effectively.
Naomi Skoglund MSTCM, FABORM is a reproductive acupuncturist in Portland, Maine and the founder of The Body Fertile Project. She is certified by the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine and a senior member of the Obstetrical Acupuncture Association. She started the Body Fertile Project (the BFP) with the mission of bridging current scientific research with the holistic wisdom that Traditional East Asian Medicine has to offer. Get the BFP’s Fertility Starter Guide or watch the free Basal Body Temperature Tracking mini course.