Acupuncture for Fertility: Frequently Asked Questions

How does acupuncture help improve fertility?

Acupuncture helps improve fertility by using Chinese medicine to ‘get your body in the right frame of mind’ to make babies. This can be in a number of different ways: by improving blood flow to the uterus, regulating menstruation, helping the hormone profile, helping ovulation and improving sperm count, shape and motility. It is also remarkable in reducing stress, which of course can inhibit blood flow to the uterus, inhibit hormone production. As the fertility journey is incredibly stressful, this can be a vicious cycle to break, but it can be done! Mostly, it is there to support both parents in their journey.

What are the success rates?

Unfortunately, much like western medicine, there are no guarantees with acupuncture. But when practiced safely, there are no adverse side effects, so it’s definitely worth trying it!

What’s the evidence base?

Clinical trials have found acupuncture to be particularly effective alongside IVF when compared to couples just having IVF treatment. As with most acupuncture trials, results are limited because there is not enough money to fund huge trials. There are plenty of uncontrolled trials but fewer controlled trials. This might be because it’s a difficult one to control – it’s impossible to know if the people who got pregnant in the control would have gotten pregnant quicker with acupuncture, or people in the control who didn’t get pregnant would have gotten pregnant with acupuncture, and vice versa in the test group. There are too many variables. There are, however, conflicting results – everyone reacts differently to acupuncture and it’s important to always bear this in mind and manage your expectations.

Is acupuncture alone enough to get me pregnant? Should I be doing anything else?

Acupuncture can aid natural conception, but is also a great addition to IVF. There is significant evidence to support acupuncture improving the chances of a IVF being a success. Of course, I always recommend that you follow your GP or specialist’s advice and treatment alongside your acupuncture treatment (for anything, not just fertility treatment!) But there are other things you can do to improve your chances: implement a regular sleep cycle, reduce processed foods, regular exercise, reduce your stress by identifying stress in your life or doing yoga or meditation, reduce alcohol and coffee. Then there are things you wouldn’t expect that can also make a difference, like keeping warm and avoiding tight trousers for men!

How many sessions do I need/how much does it cost/when should I be doing it in the process?

I fully recommend acupuncture throughout your whole journey, from conception to birth (and beyond!) Weekly sessions are most effective, but that doesn’t mean it is a waste of time if you can only come once a fortnight. Treatment price varies between acupuncturists, but vary from £15-£150 (community or student acupuncture clinics to specialist prices).

What is your experience of treating fertility patients?

I have helped patients conceive with and without IVF. I have treated women with amenorrhoea (no periods) and men with erectile dysfunction. I have also treated many women for other menstrual issues; such as dysmenorrhoea (painful periods) and menorrhagia (very heavy periods). I have treated numerous pregnant women for nausea, back pain, stress, headaches and other common pregnancy symptoms!

Do I need to see a fertility specialist?

This is entirely up to you. The most important piece of advice I can give you is that you find an acupuncturist that you feel you can trust; not just to treat you but to listen to you and understand you. The relationship between patient and acupuncturist is absolutely important in determining whether the treatment will be effective. So, that being said, if the knowledge that an acupuncturist has a special qualification in fertility treatment makes you feel more comfortable then absolutely go for it.

Is it helpful for both men and women/is it just for women/just for men?

Acupuncture can be helpful for either partner, or both!

Our doctor can’t figure out why we can’t get pregnant. Can acupuncture help me?

Acupuncture isn’t magic, but it can help improve your chances. Unexplained infertility is common, and I have experience of successfully helping a couple who did not know why they couldn’t get pregnant to conceive.

What are the treatments like/what does acupuncture feel like/what should I expect?

Your acupuncturist will take a full history from you and ask you questions about your body. Expect questions about your sleep, digestion and more! This helps the acupuncturist diagnose you in Chinese medicine terms and allows them to choose the correct acupuncture points. Acupuncture treatments should feel relaxing, and not painful. Most people describe a dull or tingling sensation when the needle is inserted, and many feel drowsy or euphoric afterwards. There’s a reason so many people come in just for relaxation!

What should I look for when choosing an acupuncturist?

Somebody you can trust to look after you and listen to you. It is perfectly fine to speak with many different acupuncturists until you find the one that feels right for you. You feeling relaxed and comfortable WILL affect the outcome of the treatment, so take your time choosing, and good luck!

Acupuncture for Back Pain

Hello all! After the response to my last article, Acupuncture for Migraines, I thought I’d start a little article series on how acupuncture can help various symptoms and disorders. As the majority of the patients that walk through my door complain of musculoskeletal pain, it makes sense to write an article on the most common symptom I treat: back pain.

Don’t forget, that as part of our GRAND OPENING, all treatments are 15% off until 1st November. Book your appointment today!

What is back pain?

Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

You know what back pain is; so let’s talk statistics. The medical journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases conducted a systematic review which estimated that back pain; particularly lower back pain; is the leading cause of disability in the world [1]. The treatment for lower back pain alone is estimated to cost the NHS £12 billion per year [2]. Back pain is commonly caused an injury, or by holding an incorrect posture for long periods of time. More and more people who complain of back pain also spend long hours sitting at a desk without taking a break. Pain relief medication, physiotherapy or changing your lifestyle to include less time at a desk or including purposeful activity are the most commonly prescribed treatments for back pain. Painkillers can be incredibly effective, but are not a straightforward treatment - they come with a range of side effects. Persistent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen, can cause gastrointestinal damage [3], chronic paracetamol use can lead to renal and cardiovascular damage [4], and stronger painkillers, like codeine, can become addictive. So, how do we try to reduce our painkiller intake and reduce our risk of side effects? Before I go on, I want to make it clear that acupuncture is a complementary medicine and not an alternative to western medicine. Which is why I tell almost every single one of my patients to check in with their GP as well as come to me. When I talk about reducing pain medication, I don’t mean just quit them altogether - at least not initially. Pain medication can literally transform lives, but acupuncture can reduce the amount of pain medication required to feel good; thus reducing the side effects.

How can acupuncture help?

Bladder channel points - excellent for a host of symptoms including back pain.

Bladder channel points - excellent for a host of symptoms including back pain.

In Chinese Medicine, pain is commonly caused by a deficiency or stagnation of something; usually Qi or Blood (although any of the ‘six evils’, Wind, Heat, Cold, Summer Heat, Dampness or Dryness can also be to blame - maybe we’ll leave them for another day!). One common diagnostic factor to differentiate what’s causing the pain is the characteristic of the pain. If it feels dull and achey and someone pressing on it feels pretty good, it’s a deficient pain. If it feels sharp and someone pressing on it feels pretty bad, it’s a stagnation pain. Luckily, there are treatment plans for treating both stagnation and deficiency (yay!). Local points, as seen above, can be great for instant relief, and encouraging the flow of Blood and Qi into (or out of) the painful area. Distal points around the elbows, knees, wrists and ankles are super effective for strengthening and rebalancing the body.

How can cupping help?

Redness around the cups shows Heat, which can cause pain.

Redness around the cups shows Heat, which can cause pain.

Another therapy which is excellent for back pain is cupping. Cupping may look a little scary, but is not intended to be painful! Cups should feel a little tight - this brings out Heat and stagnation of Blood, which is why people often end up with red and purple marks! Cupping releases those muscles, leaving you feeling instantly looser and more relaxed. Most people describe it as feeling like a deep tissue massage. If cups ever feel uncomfortable, please tell your acupuncturist because they can adjust them.

The research

Randomised controlled trials have found acupuncture to significantly reduce back pain, reduce dependency on pain medication and increase patient’s feeling of general wellbeing [5], [6], [7], [8] and [9]. To read more details about research into the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of back pain, head to the British Acupuncture Council’s fact sheet on back pain.

Photo by Mahmudul Hasan Rifat from Pexels

Photo by Mahmudul Hasan Rifat from Pexels

Book an appointment

Looking to be free from back pain?! Send me an email to book an appointment, or if you have any questions about how acupuncture can help you!

References:

[1]. Hoy, D., March, L., Brooks, P., Blyth, F., Woolf, A., Bain, C., Williams, G., Smith, E., Vos, T., Barendregt, J., Murray, C., Burstein, R. and Buchbinder, R. (2018). The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. [online] Available at: https://ard.bmj.com/content/73/6/968 [Accessed 16 Sep. 2018].

[2]. NICE. (2018). NICE publishes updated advice on treating low back pain. [online] Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/nice-publishes-updated-advice-on-treating-low-back-pain [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018].

[3]. Goldstein, J. and Cryer, B. (2015). Gastrointestinal injury associated with NSAID use: a case study and review of risk factors and preventative strategies. Drug, Healthcare and Patient Safety, p.31.

[4]. McCrae, J., Morrison, E., MacIntyre, I., Dear, J. and Webb, D. (2018). Long-term adverse effects of paracetamol - a review. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 84(10), pp.2218-2230.

[5]. Hasegawa, T., Baptista, A., de Souza, M., Yoshizumi, A. and Natour, J. (2013). Acupuncture for acute non-specific low back pain: a randomised, controlled, double-blind, placebo trial. Acupuncture in Medicine, [online] 32(2), pp.109-115. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=10.1136%2Facupmed-2013-010333 [Accessed 7 Jan. 2018]. 

[6]. Kennedy, S., Baxter, G., Kerr, D., Bradbury, I., Park, J. and McDonough, S. (2008). Acupuncture for acute non-specific low back pain: A pilot randomised non-penetrating sham controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, [online] 16(3), pp.139-146. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965229907000350?via%3Dihub [Accessed 7 Jan. 2018]. 

[7]. Cherkin, D., Sherman, K., Avins, A., Erro, J., Ichikawa, L., Barlow, W., Delaney, K., Hawkes, R., Hamilton, L., Pressman, A., Khalsa, P. and Deyo, R. (2009). A Randomized Trial Comparing Acupuncture, Simulated Acupuncture, and Usual Care for Chronic Low Back Pain. Archives of Internal Medicine, [online] 169(9), p.858. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=10.1001%2Farchinternmed.2009.65 [Accessed 7 Jan. 2018]. 

[8]. Cho, Y., Song, Y., Cha, Y., Shin, B., Shin, I., Park, H., Lee, H., Kim, K., Cho, J., Chung, W., Lee, J. and Song, M. (2013). Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain. Spine, [online] 38(7), pp.549-557. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=10.1097%2FBRS.0b013e318275e601 [Accessed 7 Jan. 2018]. 

[9]. Weiß, J., Quante, S., Xue, F., Muche, R. and Reuss-Borst, M. (2013). Effectiveness and Acceptance of Acupuncture in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: Results of a Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, [online] 19(12), pp.935-941. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=23738680 [Accessed 7 Jan. 2018]. 

Acupuncture for Migraines

It's Migraine Awareness Week this week (2nd-8th September 2018), and The Migraine Trust are shining the spotlight on this common debilitating condition.

Book an appointment today at Liz Manning Acupuncture - 15% off all treatments until 1st November 2018!

What are Migraines?

Photo by  Anh Nguyen  on  Unsplash

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Like most conditions, migraines affect everyone differently. Whilst the symptoms vary from person to person, the most common manifestation is an intensely painful headache with sensory disturbance - blurred vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells and nausea.

Migraines affect an estimated 6 million people in the UK [1] and are estimated to cost the NHS £150 million per year in GP visits and prescription drugs [2].

How can acupuncture help?

Large intestine 4 at the student clinic - an extremely powerful point for all disorders of the head

Large intestine 4 at the student clinic - an extremely powerful point for all disorders of the head

Research has found that acupuncture has a significant advantage over pain medication in decreasing the frequency and intensity of migraines [3]. Studies have also found that patients tolerate acupuncture better than medication due to fewer reported side effects. 

When treating migraine patients, I usually use a combination of acupuncture to move qi, cupping to relax the patient and release stagnation and heat, and finish off with a little tui na. My patients have reported instant relief from migraines during and after treatment, and longer lasting results after their second treatment. 

Patient testimonial:

"I’ve had one session of Gua Sha massage and then needles as a treatment for chronic headaches. Liz was very gentle and I left feeling very calm. The next morning I was so relaxed, can’t wait for my next session!" - O

Book an appointment

We are currently offering an introductory 15% off all treatments! Book your appointment today or get in touch to find out how acupuncture can help you! 

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels

If you suffer from migraines, please visit your GP for further investigation.  For more information, please visit the Migraine Trust.

References:

[1]. National Institute for Clinical Excellence (2011). Botulinum toxin type A for the prophylaxis of headaches in adults with chronic migraine.

[2]. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Headache Disorders (2010). Headache Disorders - not respected, not resourced.

[3]. Xu, J., Zhang, F., Pei, J. and Ji, J. (2018). Acupuncture for migraine without aura: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 16(5), pp.312-321.

Further reading:

Da Silva, A. (2015). Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, [online] 55(3), pp.470-473. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25683754 [Accessed 6 Sep. 2018].

Acupuncture.org.uk. (2018). Migraine and Acupuncture: The evidence for effectiveness. [online] Available at: https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/public-review-papers/migraine-and-acupuncture-the-evidence-for-effectiveness.html [Accessed 6 Sep. 2018].

BMJ Best Practice. (2018).  Migraine Headache in Adults. [online] Available at: https://bestpractice.bmj.com/topics/en-gb/10 [Accessed 6 Sep. 2018].

Cochrane. (2018). Acupuncture for preventing migraine attacks. [online] Available at: https://www.cochrane.org/CD001218/SYMPT_acupuncture-preventing-migraine-attacks [Accessed 6 Sep. 2018].

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions: Acupuncture

What conditions can acupuncture treat?

For thousands of years, acupuncture has been used to treat many symptoms; from physical pain to emotional disorders and everything in between! Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine work on the belief that illness is caused by an imbalance within the body and can be treated by focusing on specific points and meridians on the body. These days, research is conducted to continue to explore the efficacy of acupuncture. For a full list of research into acupuncture treating various conditions, please visit the British Acupuncture Council website.

How many treatments will I need?

This is nearly impossible to answer as there are so many limiting factors. The number of treatments needed depends on the severity and longevity of your symptoms, your acupuncturist, how often you come for treatment and your own personal response to acupuncture. For best results, most acupuncturists would recommend weekly treatments, at least for the first 6 weeks.

Most people feel positive results after their first treatment, and notice longer-lasting effects after around 4-6 treatments. If this isn't the case for you, let your acupuncturist know. They may be able to change up your treatments or have some other recommendations to aid your recovery. 

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is very safe when practiced by a fully qualified therapist. If you are unsure about an acupuncturist's qualifications, there is a way to check. The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) is a register of accredited acupuncturists in the UK who have been trained to a degree level and meet World Health Organisation standards of safe practice. You can find your nearest accredited practitioner by searching for your postcode on the BAcC website.

Is it hygienic?

Again, this really depends on who your acupuncturist is and that is why it is so imperative to see an acupuncturist who has had proper training. British Acupuncture Council acupuncturists follow strict regulations, including the use of single-use needles. As soon as the needle is removed from your body, it is safely disposed of and never used again.

Does it hurt?

This varies from person to person! Acupuncture needles are incredibly fine; as fine as a human hair, so even if you’re afraid of injections or blood tests you could still be fine with acupuncture needles. Most people describe a tapping sensation as the needle is inserted, followed by a dull, achy pain whilst the needle is in. Others describe slightly stronger, ‘electric’ sensations. As long as you don’t feel uncomfortable, these sensations are normal and they can be a positive indicator of the treatment working! If you experience sharp or unbearable pain, please tell your therapist and they will remove the needle - it is likely the needle may have touched a nerve. Any pain should subside immediately when the needle is removed. Some people feel nothing!

Where are the acupuncture points?

There are acupuncture points all over the body, but the most commonly used acupuncture points are found on the arms, legs, back, abdomen and face.

Can I have acupuncture every day?

Yes, you can, but most people don't. People commonly have acupuncture treatments once a week.

Can I just come for general wellbeing?

Yes, you absolutely can, and many people do! Acupuncture can have an instantly calming or energising effect, and many people have acupuncture treatment as a 'pick me up'.

Have a question that you don't see here? Get in touch.