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Stress and Infertility

Many years experience in treating patients with infertility have taught Dr. Zhou that stress and infertility can very often be directly related in a vicious cycle. She is well aware that, when diagnosed with infertility, many patients feel helpless and no longer in control of their lives. When patients seek insemination or assisted reproductive treatment, the financial impact can be extremely stressful; some of the hormonal medications can cause mood swings, headaches, fatigue and emotional upsets, which further exacerbate their stress levels; and, when they resort to IVF, it is often their last option and patients are not only under an additional high level of physical stress with injections, blood work, ultrasound, etc., but also highly vulnerable to the possibility that the procedure may fail.

How stress affects the reproductive system

Stress and other negative emotions indeed disrupt hormonal communication between the brain, the pituitary and the ovary, which causes an imbalance in hormonal function. Such imbalances can lead to irregular or missed menstrual cycles and may cause the fallopian tubes and uterus to contract thereby inhibiting the movement of the egg into the uterus. In addition, many years of emotional stress, depression and anxiety have been implicated in the complete cessation of ovulation, resulting in a condition called anovulation.

How acupuncture reduces stress during the treatment of infertility

Acupuncture, a holistic method, integrates the body and mind, balances emotional distress, increases relaxation, and helps women with hormonal dysfunction or unexplained infertility. Modern science substantiates that acupuncture affects the autonomic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system to decrease stress, muscle tension, anxiety and irritability. Acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system and increases the production of endorphins and encephalins, which are naturally occurring chemicals in the body that improve a person’s mood and overall feeling of well-being.

Since the nervous system connects the brain directly to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the uterus, acupuncture, acting on the autonomic nervous system, influences the ovary's ability to produce healthy eggs and hormones, relaxes both the fallopian tubes and the uterus, which in turn can aid the movement and implantation of a fertilized egg. Further, acupuncture relaxes the uterus and can promote blood circulation to the uterine tissue, nourish the endometrium, and make the embryo more likely to become implanted, which can support conception and help avoid miscarriage (See infertility for detail).

As an oriental medical doctor treating infertility, Dr. Zhou places a strong emphasis on providing the best possible fertility care addressing both the physical and emotional concerns of her patients. Her approach is to help them not only achieve a successful pregnancy, but also have a natural, joyful, and more relaxed conception experience.