Earlier in the year I shared my thoughts on a couple of things that had happened to me since I wrote the post describing how I was struggling being back at work full time and leaving Ettie at nursery. There were many things that contributed to me not feeling myself at the time, the main thing being that we were struggling to conceive after losing our second baby to a MMC at 12 weeks. One of the measures I took to help me relieve some stress was acupuncture to improve fertility and so I thought I’d share my experience with you.
I’ll start by saying I didn’t go into acupuncture this time as a newby. I had had it in the past on the lead up to our wedding when the stress of wedding planning, working long hours and renovating our first house had resulted in this ugly puffy eye thing. The Dr’s thought it was an allergy and I had all sorts of tests, but the creams they prescribed made it a million times worse. A quick consultation with Dr Google recommended acupuncture and after a few sessions, the puffiness started to clear up and it has never returned so I was already a convert.
My treatment this time was with the same lady. We had a quick consultation and I explained what had happened with the MMC and how we’d been struggling to conceive ever since (at that point it had only been 4 months) She checked my tongue and my heart beat and concluded that I was too cold and needed to eat more lamb! (sounds strange but I never eat lamb so perhaps she had a point!) After a quick massage, she stuck some needles in my tummy and behind my ears, then lay me down under a heat lamp for 45 minutes and patted my back!! It all sounds rather bizarre and I must admit I am perplexed as to how it all works, but I left the appointment feeling very relaxed and in the week that followed it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and the dark cloud removed from behind my eyes!
This first acupuncture appointment took place after the last day of my period and before ovulation. The needles in the tummy and behind the ears, and the patting of my back patting whilst under a heat lamp was to stimulate ovulation and to ensure an egg was actually released from my ovaries that month.
I returned for a second treatment two weeks later – the week after ovulation (and ‘dooing the deed’). This treatment was to prepare my womb and make it more comfy for implantation. On the second visit there was more massage, some cupping (where cups with warm air inside are placed on the back to suck up the skin), then needles in my tummy and hand with the heat lamp over my belly again.
The idea with the acupuncture for trying to conceive is that you repeat these two appointments every month until conception is successful. This could work out pretty expensive if it takes a while and so you do need to be prepared that it could be a long road ahead. My acupuncturist explained you could just choose to have one of the appointments or go once every other month if you were bothered about cost.
How does it work? – The Science
Like I said, it does sounds bizarre and as you’re lying on the table doubt does cross your mind that its all a bit of nonsense, but there its a science behind it too. In a female body there is a delicate balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and reproductive gland and so stress is thought to be capable of preventing a woman from ovulating entirely which in turn can cause problems conceiving. It is reported that stress can create spasms in the fallopian tubes and uterus, which can interfere with the movement and implantation of a fertilized egg. In men, stress can alter sperm counts and, motility. Acupuncture treatment for trying to conceive works to reducing the effects of stress by releasing endorphins in the brain and increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs.
I’ve no doubt that the stress of me loosing a second baby and returning to work full time was causing me issues in trying to conceive. Before the acupuncture appointments I felt up tight and that something was wrong with my body, but I left both treatments feeling relaxed and that I taken a positive step towards conceiving. At around the same time I also went to the Dr’s to ask if there could have been something ‘left inside’ me that was stopping me ovulating (I never had a scan or anything after the MC to check everything had came out). He said that as long as I was having periods everything was ok and so again I think that put my mind at rest, I feel a bit of a fraud in admitting that I held back writing this post until I was sure that I’d conceived and so I’m not going to say hand on heart that it was the acupuncture that helped, but it did help me destress and that can only be a good thing.
If you are trying to conceive at the moment I just want you to know I completely understand how hard and stressful it is. We were trying for 6 months for Ollie which in the grand scheme of things doesn’t seem very long, but when you’re in the midst of it, it can seem like an eternity and I know there are many people out there who try for much longer than that.
I have published this post purely to share my experiences and not to guide you in any way. If you are ttc I wish more that anything that you achieve your goal. Its such a stressful time, be kind to yourself and enjoy little luxuaries such as getting a massage and having time out of you think it will help you de-stress.