Dr. Brendan Armm, founder of Lotus Integrative Medicine Santa Monica, is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine who provides acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine and nutritional counseling to promote fertility and a healthy pregnancy to residents of Santa Monica, California.
Acupuncture -- the insertion of ultra-fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body -- can help regulate many body functions. For example, problems with the thyroid gland, whether in terms of too much or too little thyroid hormone, have a negative effect on fertility. Acupuncture can help address thyroid hormone secretion. Acupuncture can also improve the flow of blood to the ovaries or relieve spasms in the Fallopian tubes through which the fertilized eggs travel to the uterus.
Herbs and other Chinese medicinal treatments, such as acupuncture and nutritional therapies, have been used to improve fertility for hundreds of years. Plant materials such as bark, roots, flowers, leaves and fruits are combined according to the practitioner's experience and assessment of the patient's needs. Treatments are administered to both men and women, although the formulas are usually different. Clinical studies in China indicate success rates range from 50 to 90 percent, depending on the problem and treatment used.
Acupuncture during pregnancy is safe in most cases, although practitioners usually avoid certain points on the body just to be sure. Many of the symptoms that cause discomfort during pregnancy, like morning sickness and fatigue, respond to acupuncture. Back pain, especially as the pregnancy progresses and a woman's posture and balance change, can be helped with regular acupuncture treatments.
Most healthy women don't need any particular treatment during pregnancy; a healthy diet, proper rest and exercise will help ensure they remain healthy and deliver a healthy baby. However, some herbal medicines like ginger and peppermint might be used early in the pregnancy to help manage morning sickness, and other formulas could be useful for conditions like constipation or hemorrhoids. Certain formulas are used in China to help prevent miscarriage in women who have a history of the problem. Nutritional counseling is also an important part of Chinese medical treatment during pregnancy.