A couple who has been trying to get pregnant for one year and cannot conceive is considered infertile. In the world, between 8-14% of couples struggle with infertility problems, and in the modern era, that percentage is increasing, and 20 percent of the cases are due to both male and female factors. The theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) suggests that infertility is the result of a disturbed vital balance and blocked blood and Qi circulation.
Several causes of infertility have been treated with acupuncture for centuries. Due to the cause of pelvic inflammation and endometriosis, for instance, acupuncture cannot relieve tubal adhesions. However, acupuncture and herbs may still be beneficial for people in this situation since they could result in improved ovarian and follicular function. Furthermore, acupuncture may increase the flow of blood into the endometrium, which makes it easier to create a thick, rich lining.
For centuries, acupuncture has been a vital part of ancient Chinese medicine, and in the last few decades it has become increasingly common in conjunction with fertility treatments, such as IVF, in order to improve success rates. The use of acupuncture for fertility treatment has resulted in many women getting pregnant. Several western physicians have dismissed this practice as quack medicine, but can it really affect a woman’s chances of having a baby?
The average patient has an appointment every week. In some cases, treatment will occur more or less often based on the length of time that the effects last. Your acupuncturist will recommend a schedule according to your condition. Three to four months of treatment are commonly provided before an insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or donor egg transfer. An apparent therapeutic effect has been seen during this treatment period.
Treatments may vary in frequency and number based on each individual’s condition. In some cases, the first treatment brings dramatic relief. For chronic conditions that are complex or long-term, one or two treatments per week for several months may be recommended. In the case of acute problems, typically less than ten visits are needed. We will discuss during your initial appointment your individualized treatment plan, including how many treatments are expected.
Acupuncturists should not insert needles into the abdominal area after insemination or a transfer. During pregnancy or suspicion of pregnancy, there are six contraindicated acupuncture points that will not be appropriate. A number of points on the lower abdomen may be affected, including Gallbladder 21, Stomach 12, Large Intestine 4, Spleen 6, Bladder 60, Bladder 67, and any points on the gallbladder.
Acupuncture can be used as a fertility treatment with minimal risks. If acupuncture is used at incorrect points when a woman is pregnant, a risk of miscarriage may arise. The reason for recommending acupuncture to patients who are in need of fertility treatments is that such physicians are well versed in treating fertility disorders. No matter what pathology or medication for pain a person is taking, acupuncture can be used.
In addition to treating spasms of the tubes, acupuncture can treat any fertility disorder. (Acupuncture is very effective in de-spasming spasmed tubes; blocked tubes, however, will not respond to acupuncture). Acupuncture is often combined with herbs to treat elevated follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), repeated pregnancy loss, unexplained (idiopathic) infertility, luteal phase defect, hyperprolactinemia (when not caused by a prolactinoma), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with anovulatory cycles, and male factor including men affected with sperm-DNA-fragmentation.
Couples who are battling infertility are aware of the heartache that infertility causes, and many of them are open to trying anything to increase the odds of becoming pregnant. Acupuncture is an alternative fertility treatment option which may help increase the chances of success.
In acupuncture, ultra-thin needles are inserted into specific points in the body, and the treatment has been practiced for thousands of years. Those points, known as acupuncture points, occur along meridians, according to acupuncture theory. The pathways are needled during acupuncture to assist in controlling the body’s functions.
An important factor in acupuncture fertility treatment is reducing stress. This is a common factor in both men and women and can improve fertility results. In response to stress, the brain releases the hormone cortisol. By altering brain neurochemistry, this changes hormone levels and disturbs the pituitary gland balance, which is crucial to reproduction.
Acupuncture is used by proponents of the method to treat a variety of infertility issues, such as spasms of the tubes and repeated pregnancy losses. Experts also believe that acupuncture can be used to treat thyroid issues, which can cause infertility. (Underactive and overactive thyroids can both prevent conception.) It may be helpful in treating some cases of infertility without a known cause. In addition to mainstream fertility treatments, some doctors only use acupuncture.
The treatment also stimulates the release of beta endorphins. Increasing these levels contributes to improvements in luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels. He adds that it decreases stress response as well.
These claims are supported by studies. A study of acupuncture’s effect on pregnancy rates was conducted in 2002. Control or acupuncture groups were assigned to women receiving fertility treatments. Each woman received an embryo transfer. The control group (non-acupuncture group) received no treatment while the acupuncture group received treatment. In the control group, 26 percent of women were pregnant six weeks later. 42 percent of acupuncture patients were pregnant. A large number of prospective randomized controlled trials demonstrating acupuncture’s effectiveness in infertility are lacking, however, many studies suggest that it can be effective.
Men can also improve their fertility with acupuncture, according to research. Approximately 30 percent of infertility cases occur due to male infertility. Based on a 2005 study published in Fertility and Sterility, acupuncture may help reduce the number of defective sperm and increase the number of healthy sperm in males suffering from infertility.