“Can Acupuncture Help Infertility?

When Louise Shortt was struggling to conceive, she turned to an alternative therapy, she tells Fiona Dillon

Evening Herald, Monday, 17 January 2011

Acupuncture and InfertilitySUCCESSFUL businesswoman Louise Shortt turned to acupuncture after trying unsuccessfully for a year to become pregnant for a second time.

“I had a child who would have been four at the time,” says Louise (40) from Walkinstown “I had absolutely no problem conceiving the first time round at all.”

Louise became concerned when she failed to become pregnant, even though there appeared to be no medical reason for it and she already had had a child.

She took expert advice and her GP referred her to a consultant in the Coombe Women’s Hospital, but the tests carried out found nothing wrong. Acupuncture never crossed her mind until she read an article about Karen Costin, a Dublin-based acupuncturist (see panel on facing page).

“I said I would give it a shot,” says Louise. “What had I got to lose?”

Given her age (36) at the time, had acupuncture not worked, IVF may have been the next step for her. But it was a decision that she happily never had to make.

“I went to see Karen and I was pregnant again within six months,” Louise recalls.

She and her husband were delighted with the birth of their son, Ellis, who turned four last month, a brother for Ava, who is due to turn nine this month.


“I continued to go for acupuncture throughout the pregnancy. I worked right up until he was born, and I had a natural birth,” says Louise.

Since then, there has been another addition to the Shortt family. “When Ellis was about nine months we decided to try again. And almost immediately, I became pregnant. Lola, has just turned three,” says Louise.

Louise, who runs her own beauty salon called Simply Elegant in Crumlin, says that she felt acupuncture helped “my circulation, my metabolism, everything. I felt fantastic”. She continued to get acupuncture throughout her third pregnancy.

“My energy levels were very good. I was back to work within about six weeks of Ellis’s birth.”

Louise was in good health, even though she was working full time while heavily pregnant, which she attributes to the acupuncture: “I felt better for it.”

She says that when she received acupuncture, the area would be heated with a compound first before the needles were inserted.

“I purposely didn’t look at where she was putting them,” she says.

Myleene says her daughter Ava (3) was a surprise, so she wrongly assumed it would be easy to get pregnant again.

“It’s been tough. You get to the stage where every month you’re waiting, and then when you’re not pregnant, it’s so disappointing,” she reveals.

Myleene says her doctor told her to relax and try for a few more months. Happily, she is due to give birth in March.

Acupuncturist, Karen Costin, says that stress, the contraceptive pill, and ovulation issues are among the factors that can have an impact on fertility. Over the past 10 years, Karen says that she has seen an increase in the number of women who are finding it hard to become pregnant.  Karen works with women who are pregnant, or trying to conceive.  She uses Five Element acupuncture in her practice at Sandford Road in Ranglagh and has been practising for 22 years.  “I treat women who have tried IVF and it has failed, or they would like to try and get pregnant without going down the IVF route,” she says.  Others are in the process of undergoing IVF treatment, and want to do acupuncture to increase their chance of success.  Karen adds: “I work with men as well.  I have got a lot of patients who I treat for low sperm count.”  One problem is that women don’t always know when they ovulate.  “The older you get, the lifespan of the egg is shorter so you need to know exactly when you are ovulating,” she says.  Stress can be an issue.  “When you get stressed you release adrenaline, and that causes you to release testosterone in minuscule amounts, which has an impact on your fertility,” she says.  Women can be on the pill for years, then they want a baby, but their hormones are out of balance.  Acupuncture can help in balancing hormones.  “Sometimes the hormones can be slightly out, but it won’t be detected in a hormone test,” says Karen.Another issue, she says, is that some couples are not having enough sex: “They are too tired, they are too stressed.  It is an issue.”