The first thing to say about this is that it is obviously a subject to bring out deeply felt emotions, attitudes, and opinions. Couples who want children but find they cannot conceive are often worried and vulnerable. If ever the phrase “you can prove anything you like with statistics” could be applied to something then I think “fertility” qualifies. We have all kinds of claims being made by all kinds of people and they usually quote statistics in order to justify themselves. There are the IVF clinics, many (or possibly all) of whom are not honest about the way in which they select their candidates and report their results. Then there are the vested interests of drug companies, researchers, and of course the specialist (often highly paid & high status) medical personnel. There is a prevailing view amongst some (not all) professionals in the NHS and outside that they are the experts and that nobody else either knows anything or has anything to contribute. Their cheerleader being someone who claims to be an expert in alternative medicine despite denying most of its key principles, one Edzard Ernst.
This is not to say that specialist clinics and procedures such as IVF are all wrong or do not have a role to play but that I would strongly advise anyone to research other options first. Acupuncture and other alternative therapies do help and speaking to people who have been helped by them proves this. We don’t have “statistics” we just have happy people who never needed to go any further than having acupuncture and taking their practitioners advice. There are also many who have been assisted by acupuncture while going through IVF or other procedures. Others who have unfortunately had to accept that they cannot have children have been supported through that. The blunt truth is that fertility treatments (of any kind) do not always work and we must avoid giving false hope.
There are of course a few charlatans in this field offering all kinds of things including alternative or more conventional treatments but I have seen no evidence that they are acupuncturists.
Infertility can actually have many, many causes including some that most specialists and even most acupuncturists never consider. Here is a list of possibles and even this may not be 100% comprehensive:
All drugs/medication/long-term use of contraceptives, Age of parents (effecting eggs or sperm), Genetic weaknes or lack of development, Low sperm count, Poor physiological compatibility of partners, Poor Diet, Obesity, Malnutrition, Over-exercising, Overwork, Emotion (a very big one that is often ignored), Hormonal problems, Minerals, Fats & Acids (part of diet really), Heavy metal toxicity, Household toxins and molds, Other pollutants such as air pollution, Climate & lifestyle, Stress.
Most acupuncturists who do a lot of work with fertility find that they have to become quite knowledgeable about not only the CM (Chinese Medicine) perspective but also about gynecology and WM (Western Medicine). In fact, I know some acupuncturists who know so much about these things they could easily work in a hospital or as a GP specialist. Since patients often tend to seek the help of IVF first and then come for acupuncture this knowledge is necessary in order to help them as effectively and safely as possible. It is possible to treat people for fertility using basic acupuncture techniques but you would not be advised to do so in these more advanced cases. This is why we include two full days of our post-graduate part of the course (during the final 3 months of the year) with our specialist on this, Richard. He has extensive knowledge and experience in treating women for fertility and during pregnancy and childbirth. This key knowledge and guidance to additional resources will ensure that you are safe and confident to treat people for fertility.