Helen Stafford MSc, BA, LicAc, MBAcC
Exeter Acupuncture Clinic @
Cathedral Chiropractic and Acupuncture Clinic
6 Southernhay West,
Exeter, EX1 1JG
Bookings: 01392 221122
Enquiries: 07814 304424
'I highly recommend Helen! I have seen her for acupuncture treatments both prior to and during my pregnancy. Helen is very kind, professional, knowledgable and puts you immediately at ease. The treatments have been effective and I always feel so calm and relaxed after the sessions. Would not hesitate to recommend Helen to anyone!'
'I started going to Helen for acupuncture when I commenced IVF treatment. I have recently given birth to twins following the first cycle!
Helen has been wonderful- gentle, caring and knowledgeable. I always found the sessions relaxing (I often fell asleep) and Helen helped keep my IVF journey as stress free as possible. I truly believe that it is at least in part thanks to Helen that I was able to conceive twins on the first try. I highly recommend.'
Many women chose to have acupuncture in preparation and alongside in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Exciting new research by Xu, Zhu and Zheng (2023) on the effects of acupuncture on pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing IVF has shown promising results. This thorough systematic review included twenty-five research trials, which involved 4,757 participants. The review concluded that the clinical pregnancy rate (CPR) for the women who had acupuncture was significantly higher than those who didn’t (the control groups). The live birth rate (LBR) was also higher for the women who had acupuncture throughout the IVF process.
Xu, M., Zhu, M. & Zheng, C. Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Gynecol Obstet (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-023-07142-1
According to the Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority, an estimated 1 in 7 couples have difficulty conceiving. For those couples who have been told that they have 'unexplained infertility' and who go on to try assisted conception, acupuncture can offer a great support. It is also helpful for couples who feel they wish to try enhancing their own fertility in hope of a natural conception.
Acupuncture treatment can help with fertility in several ways: addressing imbalances, reducing stress, reviewing diet and supporting the body through assisted conception programmes. Treatment is tailored for the individual. A thorough case history will help to identify constitutional weaknesses, as well as problems caused by external factors, which may have an impact on fertility.
Modern life is hectic and can be stressful, which is not very conducive to fertility. Trying for a baby naturally or embarking upon assisted conception can add to the stress. In Chinese medicine it is recognised that stress has a negative effect on the flow of energy and functioning of our bodies, which is undesirable for a couple trying to conceive. Acupuncture can help to move this energy; reduces stress and anxiety; and is very relaxing.
Chinese dietary theory is designed to address individual needs. We all differ in constitution and respond differently to specific foods. People are often unwittingly choosing foods which do not suit their constitution, which in turn undermines their health. Simple changes can make a huge difference. Clients will be given advice regarding their diet, to help to create better health and therefore improve chances of conception.
Acupuncture for female fertility helps by regulating the menstrual cycle and addressing specific problems such as PMT, scanty or excessive bleeds, irregular cycles, mid cycle bleeds, headaches, menstrual pain, etc. Acupuncture can also help with conditions such as endometriosis and PCOS, which can both affect fertility.
Acupuncture demonstrated a reduction in the severity of pain associated with endometriosis in a recent systematic review and meta-analysis (Giese, Kwon and Armour, 2023). Six research studies were included in the analysis with a total of 331 participants. Acupuncture treatment reduced the severity of menstrual pain and general pelvic pain compared to non-specific acupuncture (superficial needling at non-acupuncture points without stimulation), Chinese herbal medicine and usual care (hormonal treatment or analgesics). The review found that there was a greater reduction in analgesic use in the acupuncture versus the comparison groups. Due to the clinically significant improvements in pelvic pain, it was concluded that acupuncture should be considered as a treatment intervention for endometriosis. further research was recommended, as few of the reviewed research studies investigated the medium to long term effects of acupuncture.
For women undergoing IVF treatment, the medication programme can have unpleasant side effects. Acupuncture can help the body to cope better with the drugs and can help with the associated stress and anxiety that many women experience.
There are some studies which suggest that acupuncture can reduce stress, regulate fertility hormones, increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, increase egg production and egg quality and promote embryo implantation. To read more about these studies visit the British Acupuncture Council website.
Fertility difficulties in a third of all cases, are related to male problems, such as a low sperm count. Recent research has shown that there is a global decline in sperm count. It takes 3 months for sperm to be produced within the body. It is therefore advisable that acupuncture treatment begins 3 months before embarking upon assisted fertility treatment.
Some clinical trials have produced promising results, suggesting that acupuncture helps male fertility by improving: sperm motility (Dieterle 2009), sperm count (Siterman 2009, Siterman 2001) and sperm quality (Pei 2005; Gurfinkel 2003). Another study indicated that acupuncture has a beneficial effect on erectile dysfunction with a pyschological basis (Engelhardt 2003). Although acupuncture research in this area is in its early stages and is limited, results are positive.
Book an appointment or contact Helen Stafford in the Exeter Acupuncture Clinic if you would like more information about treatment.
MSc. BA. LicAc. MBAcC
Member of the Obstetrical Acupuncture Association
Helen is registered with SImplyhealth
Based at the Cathedral Chiropractic and Acupuncture Clinic