Infertility can be caused by various possible factors that oftentimes are not that easy to identify. Regardless of the cause, it usually can be treated with ART (assisted reproductive technologies), drugs, or surgery. However, all of these therapies have their own limitations. ART is a modern technological approach wherein the sperm, egg, or both are handled by a physician to improve the probability of conception. ART technology has made it possible for hundreds of thousands of couples to have a baby when before they had zero chance of ever conceiving one. Still, the chances of having a baby using ART is slim more so if the woman is advanced in age. Also, ART is quite expensive costing $10,000 – $20,000 per a single cycle of IVF (vitro fertilization).
Studies have been done recently that reveal a direct connection between fertility and acupuncture when this treatment is included in conventional ART procedures. Acupuncture is a very old Chinese mode of healing that produces positive practical effects on the reproductive systems of both the male and the female boosting the likelihood for successful implantation and lessening the chances of miscarriage in an ART procedure. Some of the benefits acupuncture can provide to boost the chances of success of an ART treatment are listed below:
Acupuncture reduces the likelihood of miscarriage
A lot of studies have observed the rate of pregnancy after acupuncture and IVF, but what is more important is if the pregnancy can be carried to term. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine was presented with a study that revealed how acupuncture can boost the rates of live birth of ART procedures. One hundred thirty women who have undergone an ICSI/IVF procedure participated in this study. Acupuncture treatment was given to 48 of these women while the rest declined treatment. The women given acupuncture had a 50% success rate in embryo transfer compared to 45% in the women who refused acupuncture treatment. This difference was not really significant. What was significant, however, was that the rate of miscarriage of the acupuncture group was only 8% while in the control group, it was 14%. Also, the acupuncture group had a rate of ectopic pregnancy that also was significantly lower to that of the control group.
Acupuncture lessens the side effects of fertility medications
Fertility drugs are used for most ART procedures. These drugs are meant to induce the production and release of several eggs as well as better the likelihood for of successful implantation. But ironically, these drugs, particularly Clomid, can also result in female infertility because one of their side effects is a thinning of the uterine lining making it difficult to sustain an embryo to full term. When acupuncture is included into an ART procedure, this particular side effect can be reversed. Acupuncture boosts the flow of blood to the uterus making the uterus develop a lining that is uniform and thick. This was proven in a study featured in 1996 in the Human Reproduction journal. A couple of acupuncture therapies given to women with their IVF cycle – one treatment 25 minutes prior to the transfer of the embryo and another treatment given 25 minutes later showed a pregnancy rate that is higher compared to women who were not administered with acupuncture during IVF therapy.
Acupuncture enhances egg quality and normalizes hormone production
With regards to female fertility, acupuncture provides a specific benefit of being able to address issues in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. These two parts of the brain are responsible for the production of hormone. When an acupuncture needle is inserted into the skin, it activates the release of beta-endorphins. These are hormones that affect hormones such as LH (luteinizing hormone), GRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone), and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), hormones responsible for the production of reproductive hormones that in turn regulate the menstrual cycle. The effect of acupuncture on the hormones of the body leads to normal ovarian functions and menstrual cycles, added number of follicles, and normal and healthy eggs.
Acupuncture induces relaxation
The Fertility and Sterility journal released a study in 2002 that depicted the rise of acupuncture’s popularity among infertile couples in the United States. This study was done in Germany at the University of Ulm. The study’s results show that about 42% of women who were given acupuncture pre and post ART procedure attained pregnancy as compared to only 26% of women who became pregnant using ART technology alone. Another study also in that year and done at the Cornell University Medical School, which also published in the same journal showed that acupuncture was able to boost the likelihood of conception because of its tendency to relieve stress and anxiety. The nervous system can be over stimulated by stress hormones resulting in the redirection of blood from the uterus to the stress-coping glands. To boost fertility, acupuncture helps redirect and improve the flow of blood to the ovaries and uterus which in turn boosts fertility.
Being a painless and safe treatment, acupuncture results in zero adverse side effects and so most fertility physicians recommend acupuncture as an adjunct to ART procedures. There is proof that acupuncture provides benefits that help boost the chances of success of ART; moreover, acupuncture helps relax the mind and body which is very important because of the invasive nature of conventional fertility treatments such as ART. Women who have successfully conceived because of acupuncture and ART are very happy about the results; for them the cost of the treatment was all worth it.