Acupuncture for fertility
Traditional Chinese medicine has a long history of treating women’s health problems, with texts from 200 BC describing medicinal plants to treat infertility. Today Traditional Chinese medicine specialists have adapted and incorporated these traditional applications into modern fertility treatment. This has resulted in clinical feedback and research suggesting that acupuncture is capable of significantly enhancing fertility. Through the use of acupuncture, moxibustion and lifestyle advice Janet aims to help achieve the following:
Regulate the woman’s hormonal cycle.
A regular 28 to 30 day cycle with good quality fertile mucus, pain free ovulation mid-cycle, no premenstrual symptoms and a pain free period with efficient bleeding indicates a balanced hormonal cycle.
Improve the quality of a woman’s fertile mucus.
Fertile mucus appears several days prior to ovulation and is required to help nourish the sperm and guide it to the egg.
An ovulation occurring on day 13 to 15 of a cycle indicates that the egg is being released at its optimal developmental time. Acupuncture can help with the symptoms of Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome and Endometriosis aiming to promote a more efficient cycle.
Promote an efficient menstrual bleed.
In traditional Chinese medicine the menstrual bleeding reflects the quality of the uterine lining. This lining appears important for implantation as women with poor endometrial development have an association with IVF failure or recurrent miscarriage. Chinese medicine aims to increase the thickness and quality of this lining, it does this through promoting corpus luteal function (which in turn produces progesterone) and through its documented action of increasing blood flow to the uterus ( Human Reproduction 11:1314-1317) Ideally it is expected that a woman will experience menstrual bleeding for at least 3 to 5 days.
Enhance egg development.
While the genetic material for a woman’s eggs are created when the woman is herself an embryo, the process of the egg maturing comes under the influence of her hormones. Clinically it also appears possible to influence the integrity of the eggs released following acupuncture treatment, this may be due to increasing the blood supply to the developing follicles or by increasing the nutritional supply to the egg via the fluids that surround and nourish it.
Enhance the internal environment of the fallopian tubes.
Traditional Chinese medicine aims to improve the elasticity and the secretions of the fallopian tubes, facilitating the passage of the fertilised egg into the uterus.
Promote embryo implantation
A study where acupuncture was used during IVF at the time of embryo implantation resulted in a significantly higher viable pregnancy rate. (Fertility and Sterility 74(4):721-72). In this study 160 women undergoing IVF were monitored. The success rate in the acupuncture group was 42.5% compared to a 26.3% success rate in the group of women that did not receive acupuncture. In a study of 114 women at the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Centre in Colorado Springs (American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) October 2004) half of the women received acupuncture prior to and following embryo replacement. The women who received acupuncture had a 51% pregnancy rate compared to 36% in control group and a 0.8% miscarriage rate compared to 20% in control group. Acupuncture also was found to reduce the risk of tubal pregnancy and increase the live birth rate. The live birth rate for each IVF cycle was 23 % higher than the cycles for the control group. Follow on research in medical journals such as Fertility and Sterility supports the use of acupuncture in assisting embryo implantation. Acupuncture is usually administered 20 - 30 minutes prior to and following embryo replacement but in some of the research, women also had an extra series of treatments several weeks prior to their embryo replacement.
To view the latest research on acupuncture and fertility visit www.acupunctureivf.com.au/pages/research_and_reviews.php
Promote a viable pregnancy
Traditional Chinese medicine can also be used in pregnancy to help promote maternal and foetal wellbeing.