INFERTILITY & CHINESE MEDICINE

Acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine has been used for centuries to treat issues of infertility. Acupuncture and herbs can help to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle in order to improve ovarian and follicular function.  Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow to the endometrium, which improves the environment for implantation increasing the success of IVF. 

Acupuncture has been shown to:
  • Increase blood flow to the uterus which increases uterine wall thickness.

  • Increase endorphin production which has been shown to affect the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) which can regulate reproduction.

  • Lower stress hormones responsible for infertility.

  • Influence plasma levels of the fertility hormones: FSH, LH, estradiol, and progesterone.

  • Normalize the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, important for fertility.

  • Benefit women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Commonly addressed issues related to infertility:
  • Amenorrhea – cessation of menses 
  • Dysmenorrhea – painful menses

  • Endometriosis

  • Frequent miscarriage

  • Unexplained (idiopathic) infertility

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

  • Uterine fibroids

  • Low sperm count in men
  • Luteal phase defect

  • Elevated FSH (follicle stimulating hormone)

When should acupuncture treatment begin?

Acupuncture is similar to other physical therapies in that it is a process-oriented method of medical intervention. It is better to do more than less. Ideally patients are treated for months prior to progressing to insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or donor-egg transfer.

 

When should acupuncture treatment end?

Typically most miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy. Consequently, treatment of patients may often last through week twelve to help prevent miscarriage.

What are the risks of acupuncture and infertility?

There are minimal risks in using acupuncture for infertility treatment. There are some contraindicated acupuncture points which should be avoided when the patient is pregnant or pregnancy is suspected. Licensed acupuncturists are well aware of these particular points and knowledgeable in the management of pregnant or possibly pregnant women. Overall, acupuncture is safe regardless of a person’s medical history.

 

Studies about acupuncture and infertility:

In a study by Stener-Victorin et al from the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fertility Centre, Scandinavia and University of Gothenburg, women are encouraged to receive acupuncture treatments pre and post embryo transfer. 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 Western medicine. However, conception may occur when acupuncture and herbal medicines are used without traditional Western medical interventions.

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