Acupuncture for Fertility: The Fertility Treatment Process, by Phase of Menstrual Cycle
If you’re considering starting acupuncture for fertility, this blog will help you understand what exactly Chinese medicine helps with in all the various phases of your hormone cycle.
The main gist of what we’re doing is supporting the normal function of what SHOULD be happening in each phase. Women who have normal menstrual cycles where everything happens when it should, and how it should, usually won’t have problems with fertility.
When women first start fertility treatment, it’s normal and expected that these functions are impaired. So if we can simply fix these issues in all the various phases, many women’s infertility is fixed as well.
Do all fertility treatment plans look exactly like that list below?
The process outlined below is a general overview of the functions that happen at each phase of the cycle, and what treatment during that phase works on.
But depending on our assessment and diagnosis – which tells us where your problems are likely occurring – we design a plan that will customize treatment for exactly what you need.
Here are the menstrual phases, what’s occurring in your body in each phase, and what the treatment goals are for each phase
Phase I: Menses
- The entire endometrial lining (our menstrual blood) needs to be shed. This allows a fresh, new lining to form each cycle so there are good implantation sites.
- Assist with a thorough endometrial shedding
- Resolve issues such as: cramps, dark clotty blood, stringy mucousy blood, and/or a temperature that doesn’t drop immediately when the period starts. All of these indicate either that the lining is not being well-shed, or that the body’s secretions could be interfering with fertility, either in the fallopian tubes as discussed in this post, or by affecting implantation sites in the uterus.
Phase 2: Follicular phase
- Estrogen from growing follicle primes the endometrium (estrogen receptors on endometrium)
- As estrogen increases, FSH is secreted. This causes 1-2 follicles become dominant, and LH levels increase which causes ovulation. In a HEALTHY system, the process of the selection of dominant follicle til ovulation takes FIVE DAYS. If it takes longer than that, it means the egg quality isn’t good
- Nourish yin/estrogen/cervical secretions
- Nourish egg in follicle: 10-30 should grow, 1-2 should become dominant
- Encourage good microcirculation to ovaries and uterus for good nutrition/oxygen to eggs, as well as to build good vasculature for uterus
Phase 3: Ovulation
- LH trigger and egg is released
- Regulate Qi and Blood, so:
- Egg can be released
- Fallopian tubes can reach out and grab the ovulated egg
- Egg will be held up for just the right amount of time for proper maturation, in tube
- Clear damp if necessary to promote good secretions
- Promote yang:
- To improve temp/progesterone rise
- to help the egg move
Phase 4 EARLY: Luteal phase
- Egg is maturing in tubes
- Tubal secretions must be perfect for timing of egg maturity
- Acupuncture is very important in this phase if there’s stagnation and/or dampness, as it keeps qi in pelvic area moving well
Phase 4 LATE: Implantation window in Luteal Phase
- blastocyte enters uterus 5 days after ovulation.
- Adheres to lining 6-7 days after ovulation. Takes 3 days to implant after adhering. So, 9-11 days after ovulation, it’s implanted
- new cells and vessels are developing, need good microcirculation, endometrium is becoming more vascular
- acceptance of embryo by mom
- Just small gentle bits of movement with acupuncture
What will YOUR fertility treatment look like?
Remember! This is a very general overview.
These are the things we want to support and promote in every patient. But depending on your individual situation, treatment will be much more specific and geared towards fixing your particular problems.
- if a woman is extremely cold all the time and has hypo/under-functioning of her organs in general (what we might diagnose as yang deficiency), then we’d be working on that the entire cycle, along with the other things we’re working to fix in the various phases. This can help keep her progesterone levels up in the luteal (second) phase of the cycle, which is necessary to sustain pregnancy.
- A woman who is Yin Deficient – a generic example would be someone who is hot all the time, dry, tends to ovulate early – would need her yin addressed her entire cycle as well, not just in the “yin phase” listed below. Good yin translates as good egg quality, good fertile mucous, and a sufficient endometrial lining, among other quality of life factors.
I hope this helps you have a good understanding of how Chinese medicine can help your fertility improve. And if you’re ready to start the treatment process, you can schedule an appointment using the button below.