Fertility and Acupuncture
In cases of female infertility, acupuncture works by helping to regulate reproductive hormones and assist in the maturation of ova (eggs). While the flow and balance of key hormones like FSH and estrogen are regulated by the brain, (specifically the hypothalamus and pituitary gland), the acupuncture needles themselves are inserted in associated pathways known to influence these hormones back into balance.
Infertility symptoms connected with hormonal imbalances are particularly treatable with acupuncture. In cases of cycle irregularity, acupuncture brings balance to the monthly menstrual cycle. In more serious cases when there is a failure to ovulate (anovulation) or PCOS, acupuncture has also proven effective. For example, problems with ovulation (or the actual failure to ovulate) connected with FSH imbalances that may suggest "low ovarian reserve" may be treatable, as well as symptoms related to imbalances in progesterone (luteal phase defect) and early-term miscarriage.
Thus, acupuncture can be used to help stimulate egg production and regulate ovulation during the first half of the menstrual cycle, as well as provide hormonal balance during the second half. It may also decrease PMS symptoms, regulate irregular cycles and periods, and decrease anxiety, stress and TTC (trying-to-conceive) frustrations.
It has also been shown that acupuncture can provide additional benefits by increasing blood flow to the uterus, helping to build the uterine lining for implantation. Also, if progesterone levels are not sufficient to help maintain the endometrium during the luteal phase, acupuncture can decrease the odds of miscarriage by helping sustain the integrity of the uterine lining that supports a pregnancy.
What are some of the fertility issues acupuncture can address?
The following is a list of commonly seen disorders, but by no means is a comprehensive list of fertility related issues treated by acupuncture.Female:
- Regulating hormone levels and imbalances
- Improve egg quality
- Improve follicle quantity (during ART)
- Reduces side-effects of fertility drugs (i.e. night sweats, mood swings, headaches)
- Stress/Anxiety Relief
- Premature Ovarian Failure (POF): High FSH levels
- Irregular Menstruation
- Luteal Phase Defect
- Recurrent Miscarriages
- Low Libido
- Unexplained Infertility
- Improve sperm motility, morphology, and overall quality
- Erectile dysfunction
- Stress Relief
- Low libido
Why should I try acupuncture?
Couples undergoing ART are putting their heart and soul on the line. Acupuncture will undoubtedly INCREASE your chances of achieving a successful outcome by bringing about balance and vitality to your fertility. Acupuncture has the following fertility-boosting benefits:
- Increased blood flow to the uterus and uterine lining (making for a thicker lining); an important marker for fertility
- Increased endorphin production, which in turn, has been shown to effect the release of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which is involved in regulating reproduction
- Lower stress hormones responsible for infertility
- Impact on plasma levels of the fertility hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol (E2), and Progesterone (P)
- Normalization of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, a key process in fertility
- A positive effect for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome(i.e. regulating menses and ovulation)
Is there any research on acupuncture and fertility?
There has been much research covering acupuncture and fertility. A German study done in 2002 showed that of the 80 women who underwent IVF and received acupuncture , 34 women got pregnant, a success rate of 42.5%. Of the 80 women involved in the study who received IVF without any acupuncture treatments, only 21 women (26.3%) became pregnant.
More recently, an American study involving 114 women showed that 51% of the women who had acupuncture and IVF treatments became pregnant versus only 36% of the women who had IVF alone. Deeper analysis of this study revealed that, while 8% of the women in the acupuncture group miscarried, the rate of miscarriage in the IVF-only group was 20%. Furthermore, women who received acupuncture also had lower rates of ectopic pregnancies.
One thing that cannot be denied is that acupuncture works - and fertility acupuncture has been proven to be successful in treating many infertility issues (as well as complementing traditional Western treatments).
In fact, Western research maintains that acupuncture exerts a clear impact on our bodily systems, regulating hormones, increasing blood-flow, quieting pain, calming the mind, facilitating naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents, and strengthening immunity.