Over five thousand years ago, the Chinese discovered the complex relationship between stimulating a point on the skin to influence a particular organ or organ pathway. Acupuncture uses thin sterile disposable needles that are inserted into acupuncture points to cause an effect in the body. In acupuncture, the practitioner treats not just the symptoms, but the whole person — body, mind and spirit.
The Chinese discovered the circulatory system more than 2000 years before William Harvey did in the West in 1628. The ancient Chinese had a very advanced scientific understanding of the body and how it works, but they defined it in terms and symbols not known to those in the Western world. The acupuncture theory of the ancient Chinese takes into account their deep understanding of the lymphatic, circulatory, vascular, and nervous systems. They were able to influence all these systems through their selection of acupuncture points on the fourteen major pathways.
Benefits of acupuncture treatments for reproductive health:
- Improve the function of the ovaries to produce higher quality eggs
- Regulate the hormones to produce a larger number of follicles
- Increase blood flow to the uterus and increase the thickness of the uterine lining
- Relax and de-stress
- Prevent uterine contraction post–IVF embryo transfer
- Reduce the side effects of IVF medications
- Strengthen the immune system and increase energy
- Improve sperm count, motility, and morphology, and reduce sperm DNA fragmentation
- Increase chance of conceiving
- Decrease chance of miscarriage
Theories that describe how acupuncture works
There are three main theories that describe how and why acupuncture works; with current scientific advancements in the fields of biophysics, biochemistry, and physiology, we are now able to understand the complex mechanisms of acupuncture:
Neural theory: Insertion of needles stimulates the nervous system, releasing chemicals to either alleviate pain or affect the body’s internal regulating systems. It stimulates nerve fibers to carry electrical impulses back to the brain, increasing beta-endorphin concentrations.
Electrical theory: Research has shown that there is a higher electrical magnetic field around the acupuncture points than in the surrounding skin.
Current theory: Research has found that needle insertion activates pain fibers in the skin. These pain fibers trigger a cascade of chemical messengers, while sending signals to the spinal cord, which relays information to the brain stem. Acupuncture can be seen as a bridge that is able to affect and integrate different systems of the body, such as the nervous, endocrine, circulatory, muscular and digestive. Because of these broad effects, needling can create profound changes in the body.
Effects of acupuncture needling:
- Pain reduction via inhibition of nociceptive fibers
- Activation of blood coagulation and immune complement systems
- Enhances blood circulation
- Restores visceral homeostasis
- Normalization of vascular tone
- Reduces contraction and spasm of the muscles
- Promotes tissue healing (immune response)
- Normalization of endocrine function (hypothalamus, pituitary, LH, FSH, adrenal, ovary, thyroid)
- Normalization of neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline)
- Normalization of sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight)
- Normalization of parasympathetic nervous system