In the recent 2016 Olympics that took place in Rio, two things are hard to miss. The first of those two things is the record breaking medal run that U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps has managed to put together over the last 16 years of his life. The second are the giant circular red dots on his back every time he climbed out of the pool. What are those purple dots and what might they mean for older women? The answer might surprise you. Those bruises were left by the practice of cupping, which is a traditional acupuncture technique that has made the news recently due to the frequency of use both athletes for performance and recovery.

Cupping is a technique in which glass cups are either pumped full of air or heated inside via flame and then applied to the skin. The purpose of the technique is to promote healing in soft tissues, aid in muscle recovery, and (most importantly) improve blood flow to the area to which it is being applied. Chinese Olympians have utilized this technique for decades and it is becoming increasingly popular elsewhere in the world. Cups are typically left on the skin for between ten and thirty minutes, drawing blood and soft tissue up to the surface. This can, at times, rupture some smaller blood capillaries and assist blood flow to the region.

For women suffering from infertility, the effects of Chinese cupping can be especially noticeable. The best time to utilize treatment is in the morning when Qi energy is at its highest and the techniques should be applied for at least six months. Generally, the timing should take place during stimulation (day 5 through 11 of the cycle), ovulation (day 12 through 16 of the cycle), and during the luteal phase (day 17 through 28 of the cycle).

For females, cupping can greatly improve the chances of success with IVF treatments in the following ways:

  • Assistance with relation and the relief of stress
  • Stimulation of follicle formation
  • Regulation of the hormone system
  • Strengthening the immune system and lessening side effects of IVF drugs
  • Promoting healthy embryo development and decreasing the chances of a miscarriage.

Cupping is a safe technique, but it cannot be applied on skin that already has a red or splotchy appearance. It also should be avoided if the patient presents with a high fever. The technique is not accompanied by significant pain. All the patient will feel is a pulling sensation on the skin followed by the formation of a red or purple dot in the area that the cupping was applied. After a couple of days, the marks will disappear. Cupping is a solid alternative to traditional acupuncture treatment, especially for individuals who have a fear of needles.

It should be noted that, while cupping can help with infertility and increase the success rates of IVF, couples still need a solid plan if they intend to get pregnant.

Dr. Litman can help you with infertility issues to give you the family you’ve always wanted. To schedule a consultation, call her office today.