Enhancing Your Fertility.
Justine Hankin – Women’s Health Mentor
I love my job – I literally cannot think of anything else I would enjoy more! For the past 25 years as an Acupuncturist I have specialised in treating women’s fertility, and over that time have supported many, many women in their quest for a family. There is nothing better than a patient walking through my treatment room door, with a huge grin on their face, uttering the magical words “I’m pregnant!”. The fun doesn’t even end there, I then get to treat them through pregnancy and meet their new baby – what is not to love?!
Acupuncture is now widely accepted as an effective treatment to support natural fertility, and also to increase success alongside Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). If you have never looked in to Acupuncture for fertility, I can highly recommend you do! There are many studies available to support its efficacy in this area, for example, the Paulus Study study in 2002 examined the effect of Acupuncture alongside IVF treatment. The results from this study demonstrated a pregnancy rate of 42.5% in the group of women who received acupuncture before and after IVF, compared to a pregnancy rate of only 26.3% in those women who simply underwent IVF. I find Acupuncture and ART complement each other enormously – it is not necessary to limit yourself to either one or the other. A combined approach can often be the most successful, and I am all in favour of that, and where necessary will refer my patients for relevant fertility tests or treatment.
Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese Medicine, a complete system of medicine that looks at the body as a whole. When it comes to fertility it views the miracle of life with the respect it deserves. The uterus, for example, is call ‘the palace of the baby’ and menstrual blood is considered to be different to normal blood, and is called ‘heavenly essence’, which makes sense given it is there to support the development of a new life. The view of fertility in Chinese Medicine is one of abundance. It focuses on nourishing and replenishing the woman, with the aim of enhancing fertility.
However, I do not use Acupuncture alone, my approach includes education and emotional support, to nourish women both physically and emotionally.
This is as important as treatment, as sadly many women suffer from a lack of belief in their own fertility. Sometimes my patients report a sense of dread before they had even started trying for a family. They will often tell me at their first appointment, “I have always thought I might struggle to have a baby”, even though there is no medical reason they know of that would prevent them from falling pregnant. This is hardly surprising, if you look at any women’s magazine there will usually be an article on how difficult it is to conceive, how fertility rates are falling and how IVF treatment is becoming more and more common. Whilst I am not denying it can be a very real struggle for some, it is not a given, and thankfully treatments to help couples are improving all the time. I believe we need change the fear felt by so many around their fertility.
I believe positivity to be key, and one way to achieve this is to be well informed about your own fertility – whether you are just starting out or are further down the line. Understanding your fertility in detail allows you to take back control, to feel more confident, to be optimistic, to enjoy the process and increases your chances of success. I often find when women are armed with the knowledge they need to maximise their fertility, and are no longer frightened to believe pregnancy will happen, magical things occur.
To get to this point it can be helpful to go back to basics to ensure you have a clear understanding of how your body works. Everyone is different and what may have helped your friend may not be the right thing for you. A clear understanding of what you need allows you to look after yourself in the most effective way. Getting to this point can be as simple as reviewing your cycle, ensuring you understand exactly when your fertile window is, looking at your diet to ensure you are eating the most nourishing foods, discussing techniques for managing stress, working on your relationship or understanding what baseline tests are available to you and your partner – to name but a few.
Therefore education is a large part of my treatment protocol. As the saying goes ‘Knowledge is Power!’
Join a conversation with Justine:
Beluga Bean is hosting regular conversations with Justine on Fertility. These take place in-person and online.
You can see a list of upcoming ‘Women’s Health Connect‘ events on the Beluga Bean Calendar.