My cup runneth over: acupuncture and cupping for infertility

With my first pregnancy at the young age of 35 (haha) I tracked my ovulation and took all of the usual prenatal vitamins required. I didn’t try any alternative methods to assist my fertility or ovulation. In fact, it hadn’t even occurred to me to try anything apart from temping on a daily basis. After my miscarriages the second time around, I started thinking about other things I could do to help with my endometriosis and blocked tube.

It was during this time that I came across the book ‘The Infertility Cure‘ by Randine Lewis. In the book, she discusses the imbalances within the body that could cause infertility and the ways in which Chinese Medicine can help unblock these imbalances such as using herbs and having acupuncture treatments.

The book covers many topics in detail, including these:

  • The possible deficiencies (with their yin, yang, qi or blood) that patients may have in their organ systems (kidney, spleen, heart or liver) which may be affecting their fertility.
  • How nutrition and other lifestyle changes can impact fertility such as femoral massage and qi gong breathing.
  • Using herbs (such as asparagus root or vitex fruit) at different stages of your cycle to regulate cycles, improve the production of progesterone or improve cervical mucus.

It all sounded very interesting to me and I immediately found an acupuncturist locally. I made an appointment and was intrigued by what the treatment would entail, how it would feel (please don’t hurt me) and most importantly, if it would help me get and stay pregnant.

At my first appointment, the lovely and eccentric acupuncturist asked me a slew of important health related questions (the usual ones you get asked at any massage treatment) before asking me to remove my dress and to lie down on a massage table. She explained that she would insert many needles in key points across my body and face and that it wouldn’t feel painful at all. As she was about to insert the first needle into my flesh, I did pause and think, ‘okay maybe this isn’t a good idea’. But as soon as she started, I quickly changed my mind. I felt absolutely no pain at all and in fact, as she continued to insert needle after needle, a sense of calm overwhelmed me. She said that I might feel tingling in areas where there was an imbalance and in particular, I might feel an electrical pulse in my ovaries. As I lay there in a very relaxed state with the soothing sounds of nature (or the Spotify playlist equivalent) playing overhead, I suddenly felt this warmth in my uterus. It became intense and it then spread along my lower abdomen. It was like I had just applied a hot water bottle directly onto my skin. I told her what I had felt and she nodded knowingly. She said my qi energy was blocked, the blood was stagnant (my endometriosis could be to blame) and my uterus needed attention. Amazing.

After the initial appointment, I was sure Chinese medicine would help me. It was at my third appointment when she recommended that I also have cupping done, in addition to the acupuncture. She also suggested I take herbs to boost the blood flow and energy in my body. She handed me a paper bag of herbs and bark. She then instructed me to make a tea out of the bag’s contents which I would drink. I’ll be honest, the contents of that bag did not entice me at all and I was not looking forward to drinking that tea but I obliged.

Well, it did not go well. I took the herbs and boiled it on the stove. The end result smelled of incense mixed with mushrooms and soil. It resembled a strange soup with floating pieces of bark in it. For me, the acupuncture treatments were amazing, calming, and I felt that my body was benefiting from the weekly treatments. However, despite my dedication to getting pregnant, I was just not able to drink the tea. I tried but I gagged. I just could not get over the smell and unfortunately, I will never know what impact the herbs would have had on my fertility. I did, however, enjoy the cupping despite the pain I felt during (slow agonising pressure) and the incredibly dark bruised circles on my back afterwards.

I continued with the treatments for several more weeks and felt that my cycles, in particular my short luteal phase, was helped by the treatments. I felt more relaxed overall and not as stressed by everything. And it made me feel more connected with my body, more energise. It taught me how important it is to listen to your body.

It also reminded me how much I prefer coffee to tea.

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