• You can commit to at least 5–10 sessions over the course of several weeks
  • You have access to a licensed acupuncturist
  • You have budgeted for an average of $90–150 per session
  • You have a specific health condition you want to address, including hormonal, fertility, or pain issues
  • You can find and receive treatment that is convenient and won’t add undue stress to your life
  • Fertility: Research has shown that acupuncture in addition to IVF can lead to around a 50% increase in successfully becoming pregnant, which has led many fertility clinics like the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, which is one of the country’s top fertility institutions, to offer acupuncture as a routine complement to their IVF treatment. “Acupuncture works to increase success rates of these interventions by increasing blood flow to the ovaries during the stimulation phase of IVF and by improving the effectiveness of the drugs given,” Rubinstein says. “It also relaxes the uterus and addresses uterine spasm after embryo transfer. Acupuncture also reduces stress, calms anxiety, and offsets the side effects of fertility drugs.”
  • Hormonal Conditions: “Another passion point for me is offering options to women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS),” Bianchi says. “Because of the way acupuncture stimulates the brain and nervous system, it can help regulate hormones and blood sugar.” While more research is needed to support the effectiveness of acupuncture for hormonal conditions like PCOS, both Bianchi and Rubenstein report having witnessed acupuncture’s healing potential when it comes to regulating menstrual cycles and hormone fluctuations. For Brickley, who has dealt with a variety of hormonal issues including the thyroid autoimmune disorder Hasimoto’s disease, acupuncture has been a game changer. “Western medicine could only do so much,” she says. “Finding alternative interventions like acupuncture and TCM have worked wonders in combination with my Western medication for my thyroid.”
  • Skin Care: In one 2013 study, women with PCOS who received frequent acupuncture treatments showed a reduction in androgens, the male hormones that can cause acne. Some beauty devotees also claim that a practice called facial acupuncture can provide impressive aesthetic results and may be a “natural alternative to Botox.” “In this specialty, upwards of 30 even smaller, thinner needles are inserted along facial lines or wrinkles in addition to body points,” Bianchi explains. “The theory is that the body interprets these tiny needles as a microtrauma which stimulates collagen production. It would also increase blood flow, ostensibly increasing nutrient delivery and ‘glow.’”
  • Menopause: Women’s health is one of Bianchi’s biggest professional passions, and she has found that “for women navigating menopause, the regulating effects of acupuncture can be tremendous.” Her clinical experience is borne out by a 2016 randomized controlled trial which indicated that after eight weeks of treatment, nearly half of the female participants reported a 47% reduction in hot flashes with effects lasting up to a year. “This proves what I’ve seen in clinic over 16 years of treating patients,” Bianchi says. “One of my menopausal patients was in a leadership role at a large company. She experienced many hot flashes day and night, including flushing and sweating every time she ate. After our sessions, the hot flashes were all but eliminated, she was back to deep, restful sleep, and she was able to continue at her performance level.”
  • Pain: “Chronic pain is pervasive, affecting roughly one-third of adults in the U.S,” Bianchi says. Acupuncture has been shown to effectively treat migraines, tension headaches, and other types of pain including neck and back. This type of therapy may be especially helpful for people who can’t tolerate or have objections to pharmaceuticals. “This is so essential given the problematic effects of most pharmaceutical therapies for pain (opioids or long-term NSAID use),” Bianchi says.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist/marketing specialist/ghostwriter and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alum. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech December 5, 2020



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