If you’re on your fertility journey, or about to start it, you may begin to learn of all of the different types of paths you can take to bring a babe into this world. Needless to say, it can be a little overwhelming, right? While some opt to go for the more invasive procedures like hormone treatments, IUI or IVF, there’s actually a variety of alternative methods you can take that can also boost your fertility, too.
We tapped some experts and MyNestwell Providers to share all there is to know in terms of alternative practices to boost fertility without even having to step foot in a fertility clinic. Let’s dive in.
Chryssa Tsakiris, L.Ac. & Founder of Well Collab
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Michelle Clifford MS, LAc, RDH & Founder of Intuitive Wellness Acupuncture
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Heidi Brooks, PhD. & Founder of Eat Sleep Dream
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There are so many factors that can contribute to the ability to conceive and every person’s case is so different. There can be underlying hormone imbalances, the impact of stress on the body, or even an individual’s inherent physiology. It can be frustrating, exhausting, heartbreaking and incredibly expensive. We’re all about options and education here at MyNestwell, so here are some holistic practices that are not simply substitutes, but they can also be used in conjunction and as a great complement to more medically-oriented fertility treatments and therapies, too.
Anyone going through a fertility journey of their own will know that a lot of needles are involved. From tests and more tests, the daily hormone shots and the big trigger shot before egg retrieval— being poked and prodded is often part of the deal. But, many tiny perfectly placed needles can have their own fertility boosting qualities (and way less pain!) than you may think.
For many women, acupuncture can be a great way to increase fertility. Acupuncture works to address the body as a whole and bring it into balance. It’s also been shown to improve fertility making it a great alternative or add-on to more medical routes.
For Michelle Clifford, L.Ac. (Licensed Acupuncturist)’s client, Sarah M., she ended up seeking out acupuncture after being told her chances for conception were low given her advanced maternal age and endometriosis diagnosis.
“A friend of mine who I confided in about my fertility challenges suggested acupuncture and loved it. I was scared initially (I thought it would hurt. It doesn’t at all!) but I’m forever a fan now! Acupuncture works and offers a refreshing perspective on fertility,” explained Sarah M.
Chryssa Tsakiris, L.Ac. (Licensed Acupuncturist) says that about 60-70% of her acupuncture clients come to her for fertility support. “Over 4 years in practice in Westchester and having seen hundreds of people trying to conceive, I’ve had less than a handful of women be completely unsuccessful,” she said. “It really works.”
Tsakiris says what makes acupuncture a great option for fertility is how personalized and integrative it is. With pharmaceuticals or procedures, there is only so much tweaking you can do. With acupuncture, it’s all tailored to the patient.
“Not only is acupuncture helpful in bringing bodily systems into balance, it’s also great for the anxiety and depression that can run right alongside fertility.” — Chryssa Tsakiris, L.Ac.
Acupuncture is not just for one type of person. What’s great about acupuncture is that the tailored nature means that the practice can help everyone not only with stress and anxiety but with physiological issues as well.
Now when it comes to acupuncture fertility, believe it not, it’s not just for women. It can help men, too. In terms of statistics, the numbers are pretty split between ⅓ women, ⅓ men and ⅓ both parties.
Not sure what an acupuncture fertility appointment entails? Another one of our acupuncturists says it’s nothing to worry about.
“The first thing I’d say is that Acupuncturists LOVE details. We will ask you all about your cycle, digestion, sleep and so on,” Michelle Clifford, L.Ac.
Make sure to check with your acupuncturist that they offer fertility acupuncture or have experience treating fertility because not all do. And that’s ok! You also want to make sure that you feel comfortable around them. It’s like having a good therapist: not only are they skilled, but you like talking to them, too. So making sure you vibe with them is going to be just as important!
Getting to the bottom of all your symptoms allows your specialist to catch the little things that may be attributing to your trouble conceiving. Beyond your menstrual history, apparent symptoms and hormones, it’s important to take into account what’s affecting your nervous system, too, whether it’s PTSD or trauma of any sort.
“Knowing what’s simmering below what the nervous system is dealing with is immeasurably important in helping people relax and creating room in their bodies to make new life.” — Chryssa Tsakiris, L.Ac.
Your acupuncturist may introduce alternative diagnostic tools specific to Chinese medicine like taking your pulse a certain way or looking at your tongue (yes, really!). Believe it or not, they can actually get a lot of info from your tongue!
Acupuncture is way more than just balancing hormones and stress levels. It can work on a multi-dimensional level and open opportunities for integrative approaches, too.
“Women SHOULD feel an inner sense of peace and fertility struggles can derail any sense of calm. Not only is acupuncture helpful in bringing bodily systems into balance, it’s also great for the anxiety and depression that can run right alongside fertility. I do a lot of work to help women connect with their bodies, and to know they’re ok,” explained Chyrssa.
For Michelle, in addition to her acupuncture services, she addresses diet and supplements and often uses moxibustion. Moxibustion is a heat therapy that involves burning dried mugwort over the needles and utilizing abdominal points to increase circulation.
Once you have your symptoms dialed down and a plan of action in place, the acupuncture can start! They’ll typically focus on various points located all over your body (we’re talkin’ ears, abdomen, hands, legs and even your feet!), depending on your symptoms and treatment. The pin pricks can feel warm, tingly or even heavy.
What’s important to remember is that everyone is different and so are your treatment plans.
Speaking of treatment plans, how many sessions of acupuncture are recommended for the best results? After the first session, you may feel immediate results including feeling more relaxed and calm. But it’s important to remember that each treatment is cumulative. So, in terms of long-lasting results, it can take 4-8 sessions or even committing to 10 sessions to see some significant changes.
One method that can be a huge help to women on their fertility journey is working with a fertility coach. They aren’t your doctor who wants to run tests. And they aren’t your BFF who’s asking way too many questions or perhaps, the wrong questions. They’re a support system to help you navigate the sea of information and help make the best choices for yourself.
Fertility coach, Heidi Brooks PhD, shared with us that fertility yoga is something she recommends to her clients to boost their fertility in addition to other methods they may be trying out. Having been through it all on her own fertility journey, Heidi decided to become a light for others. You can read her full story here.
While it does include some poses that people may be familiar with focused on restoration and relaxation, there are a series of poses that promote blood flow to reproductive organs and focus on relaxing the pelvic floor muscles where many women hold a lot of tension unknowingly. It’s a good balance between movement and relaxation. Some of these poses may include:
The nice thing about fertility yoga is that it’s very gentle, during some stages of your fertility process high intensity exercise may be off the table but this practice is very light. As long as you have your doctor’s approval for light exercise you’re good to go! One thing’s for certain: it’s definitely not a cardio workout!
The best part?
“We do a tiny bit of work, but I won’t lie to you that it’s all deep breathing and laying down!” — Heidi Brooks, Fertility Coach & Yoga Instructor
Heidi recommends practicing fertility yoga weekly to feel the benefits and to couple it with other modalities like acupuncture or massage as well.
Who wouldn’t be up for a soothing massage, right? Right now we could all use one. As great as massage is for everyone, the stress reducing benefits of massage can be beneficial in boosting your fertility too.
The cortisol our bodies create when we’re under stress and can have an impact on our ability to conceive. While general stress reduction techniques, counseling or other methods of self-care can help with this, sometimes we need help getting that stress out of our body and that’s where a massage comes in. One special massage technique that comes to mind that can help with fertility is an Arvigo massage.
The Arvigo Technique of Maya Abdominal Therapy (ATMAT) is a type of massage therapy dating back to ancient Maya healing techniques that can be used to reposition reproductive organs and improve blood flow. Don’t let the long-winded name fool you, this therapy can be mighty powerful to help you along your fertility journey.
The journey to becoming a mama can be a whirlwind of highs and lows. Whether you’ve just started your journey or are months or even years into it, find your people to lean on, get the support you need, and remember, you aren’t alone. If you’re feeling like you need a little help getting started or overwhelmed, schedule a free Well Mama Consult with our founder Emily to find out how to make your motherhood journey more joyful with the right people by your side.