How does Acupuncture help treat Infertility?
Does it also help male infertility?
Acupuncture has been shown to:
- Regulate hormonal activity, improve follicular development and ovarian function, and support healthy menstruation and pregnancy.
- Help manage parasympathetic nervous system responses and reduce stress levels, reducing cortisol, a stress hormone that inhibits reproductive function.
- Stimulate chemical changes within the uterine lining, increasing blood flow to the endometrium. This helps create a thick, rich lining, preparing the uterus for successful implantation.
- Treat a number of fertility disorders including tubes in spasm, elevated levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), repeated pregnancy loss, unexplained (idiopathic) infertility, luteal phase defect, hyperprolactinemia (when not caused by a proloactinoma) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with annovulatory cycles.
- Reduce nausea and morning sickness, lower miscarriage risk and reduce the duration of labor by up to 18% (Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, 2012).
- Male factors: Acupuncture improves sperm motility, quality, morphology, count and concentration and men affected with sperm-DNA-fragmentation as well as increase libido. Approximately 60% of couples being treated for infertility are dealing with some form of male factor infertility.
IVF clinics have improved steadily over the last decade, with follicle stimulation, egg fertilization and embryo culture reaching a technological and success rate plateau.
- Acupuncture has repeatedly demonstrated is effectiveness in increasing successful implantation of the embryo in the uterine lining, an area in which improvement is needed to increase IVF success rates.
- Within the last eight years, publications have highlighted an increasing number of clinical trials displaying the success of acupuncture before, at and after the time of embryo transfer, facilitating successful transfer.
- Acupuncture is particularly helpful with women who have had previous failed cycles or who are 35 years or older.
A considerable and growing body of research has led IVF clinics in the United States, Australia and Europe to include acupuncture as a standard component of care for all of their IVF patients. Acupuncture has been reliably shown to safely and effectively improve success rates across all patient demographics.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine have been used successfully to enhance fertility and treat infertility for thousands of years, offering an effective, time-tested approach increasingly used alongside conventional reproductive medical care by using pain free, disposable hair thin needles. Dozens of studies conducted and repeated internationally have demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture for women taking fertility drugs or using reproductive technology techniques such as IVF or IUI, which has led to it being viewed as an invaluable asset to successful IVF protocols.
A recent study from the British Medical Journal found that among women who received acupuncture and IVF, the pregnancy rates were 65% higher and the rates of live births were nearly twice as high than among women who received IVF with sham acupuncture or no acupuncture.
Clinical observations from the Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness suggest that the most effective fertility treatments involve a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and traditional medical interventions.
When should Acupuncture Treatment begin?
Acupuncture is a process-oriented method of medical intervention – it is better to do more than less. Successful fertility care is born of a focus on helping the body produce the healthiest eggs, uterine lining and sperm possible. A commitment of 3 months is recommended as it takes approximately 100 days for the egg to develop towards ovulation and 116 days for sperm production to be completed. With an investment of 3 months time, acupuncture and naturopathic care can best influence the quality of egg and sperm production, reduce stress hormones and improve uterine lining quality.
Patients are commonly treated weekly for three to four months before an insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or donor-egg transfer and on the day of transfer before and after the procedure. As most miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy, acupuncture and naturopathic treatment should continue through week twelve to reduce risk of miscarriage.