With Mariah Carey singing its praises, and plenty of anecdotal success stories, acupuncture for fertility is becoming big business, so ThinkBaby set out to discover what its all about and how tiny needles and ancient theory of pressure points could help you get pregnant.
We went to visit acupuncturist Selina MacNair in her North London clinic to hear about her approach, success stories and to find out what happens in the treatment room.
What does acupuncture do for fertility?
“We’re not really sure exactly how it works,” Selina explains. “But acupuncture does seem to regulate women’s cycles, whether they’re being treated for fertility problems or something else.”
In many cases, simply regulating and improving the health of a woman’s menstrual cycle can boost her fertility and be enough to help her get pregnant naturally.
It’s also a common treatment for stress (a well known barrier to conception) and can be used for muscle spasm and tension. As the uterus is a muscle, easing any tension in the area can help provide a better environment to encourage an embryo to grow.
What actually is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It involves inserting tiny needles at pressure points on the body, to work with our natural energy or Qi. The needles encourage the energy to flow through the body’s meridians, or energy channels, when they may have become blocked or sluggish.
“I think of the body like a water system,’ explains Selina, comparing the body’s energy lines (meridians) to the canals and the energy to water. “In order to get everything working in harmony, you need to get water into the dried out, bogged down areas, and encourage a more efficient flow through the whole system. The needles are like putting a paddle into the sluggish areas to give them a helping hand.”
Does it hurt?
The idea of having little needles stuck into us was frankly a bit scary but they’re really very tiny and most people don’t notice them being put in. When we finally plucked up the courage to have a go, what we did notice was an unusual sensation when the acupuncturist touched the needles, gently pressing or twisting them to encourage energy flow. It feels like an ache or tingling, not unpleasant, but a little strange. “It’s a very individual process, though, and if you really don’t like it, I just take it out,” adds Selina.
NEXT: Find out what will happen when you begin treatment, and what you should do first