More and more women today are finding it to be frustratingly difficult to get pregnant. Even after conception, many of my clients face problems bringing their pregnancy to term and producing a healthy child.
The American Fertility Society defines infertility as occurring when “a couple has one year of regular intercourse without contraception and has been unable to conceive.”
There are many factors that may make your conception difficult to achieve, however, research using acupuncture to enhance fertility is providing reason for new optimism in the struggle with this old problem. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have a long history of increasing fertility chances.
In order to increase your chances of getting pregnant, you want to create an inviting environment for an embryo to implant and develop, i.e., to “prepare the nest.”
The goal of acupuncture is to return your body to a state of health. Benefits of acupuncture include:
- Acupuncture reduces the stress hormones that interfere
- Hormones that regulate ovulation are stabilized, thereby
improving the probability that an egg is released.
- The chances of a fertilized egg implanting are increased due
to the enhanced blood flow to the uterus.
- Women with PCOS, which makes getting pregnant difficult,
find their ovulation cycles are improved.
- Pregnancy rates are increased in women who are going
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Women undergoing IVF were much more likely to become pregnant when they combined the procedure with acupuncture, a recent study has shown.
The remarkable success rate occurred across seven acupuncture trials involving 1,366 women in a systematic review and meta-analysis published in a February, 2008 issue of the British Medical Journal. Acupuncture was delivered either just before or just after embryo transfer.
The research was carried out by scientists from the University of Maryland in America and the VU University Amsterdam in Holland. Researchers claim that because acupuncture costs only about $75 per session compared to $6000 to $10,000 per cycle for IVF, it would be a cost effective, safe and efficient way of boosting success rates in fertility treatment.
It is thought that acupuncture stimulates the neurotransmitters that trigger the production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone, which controls the menstrual cycle and a woman’s ovulation.
Acupuncture is also thought to stimulate blood flow to the uterus and boost the production of endogenous opioids, inducing the body to relax.
A study published in the July 2005 issue of Fertility and Sterilityfound that acupuncture helped men by improving sperm quality in their semen. In the research project, 28 men received acupuncture in addition to traditional infertility treatments, while another 12 men received only the traditional treatments.
All of the men were diagnosed with infertility of unknown origin. Acupuncture was associated with fewer structural defects in the sperm of men who received it, although it had no effect on other abnormalities, such as sperm immaturity or premature death. Previous studies have shown a link between acupuncture and improved sperm production and motility.