Acupuncture and herbal medicine has a long history when it comes to enhancing reproductive health and fertility for both men and women. In fact, evidence that acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used to aid fertility can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD.
Statistics state that one in five couples over the age of 30 have difficulty conceiving after one year of trying. A combination of factors can contribute: delayed motherhood, toxins in the environment, and stressful lifestyles that affect the balance of hormones. Many of these couples are turning to acupuncture and herbal medicine for a safe, effective and natural solution to have a healthy baby.
How common is Acupuncture used to aid in fertility? More often than you may think. Celebrities such as Celine Dion and Mariah Carey have delivered healthy babies through the use of Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine. Click on the link below to watch a video of Mariah Carey speaking about her difficulties while trying to conceive and how Acupuncture played a part in helping her become pregnant:
Popular television host Dr. Oz also recommends the use of acupuncture for women who are seeking fertility treatments. Click on the link below to read an article from the Oprah.com website in which Dr. Oz writes about the benefits of Acupuncture for a variety of conditions, including infertility:
Some studies show that acupuncture can help fertility by reducing the effects of stress and balancing the hormones. It may increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, increase the uterine lining, prevent the uterus from contracting, lessen the side effects of drugs used in IVF, strengthen the immune system, decrease chances of miscarriage, and improve quality, quantity, and motility of sperm.
A leading review article posted by Cornell University provides a summary of current research that supports acupuncture has potential benefits for fertility treatment, including the stimulation of increased uterine blood flow and fertility hormones. It reports that acupuncture treatment has the following potential fertility-boosting benefits:
- Increased blood flow to the uterus and therefore uterine wall thickness, an important marker for fertility
- Increased endorphin production, which, in turn, has been shown to effect the release of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (gnrh), a decapeptide involved in regulating reproduction
- Lower stress hormones responsible for infertility
- Impact on plasma levels of the fertility hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone (fsh), luteinizing hormone (lh), estradiol (e2), and progesterone (p)
- Normalization of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, a key process in fertility
- A positive effect for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal imbalance present in three percent of adolescents and adults
Other benefits listed by similar researches include:
- Improved pregnancy rates during IVF treatment cycles, when acupuncture takes place on the day of embryo transfer
- Increased blood flow to the uterus, leading to an improved endometrial lining
- Reduced stress and anxiety levels
- Possible improvement in ovulation for women with PCOS and Anovulatory cycles
- Possible improvement in sperm count and quality in men with infertility
- Possible regulation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which in turn could help regulate ovulation
- Help those with thyroid problems because thyroid can lead to problems with fertility.
- Increased number of follicles produced during an IVF treatment.
Article from Fertility and Sterility was co-authored by Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, Dr. Pak H. Chung, and Dr. Raymond Chang of Weill Cornell. Published by Cornell University, via Cornell News website: http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/april03/fertility.html
Research on Acupuncture and Fertility
The earliest and perhaps most well known study was done in Germany in 2002 by Wolfgang E. Paulus. The pregnancy rates of two groups of women undergoing IVF were compared. The group receiving acupuncture 25 minutes before, and 25 minutes after embryo transfer had a pregnancy rate of 42.5% compared to 26% for the non-acupuncture group.
Dieterle et al. Evaluated the effect of real acupuncture vs. Sham acupuncture. The real acupuncture group had significantly higher ongoing pregnancy rates: 28.4% vs. 13.8%.
Regarding male factor infertility, acupuncture can improve sperm production and motility. In a study reported in 2005 researchers looked at the effects of acupuncture on the structural health of sperm in men with infertility of unknown cause. 28 infertile men received acupuncture 2 times a week for 5 weeks, and 12 men received no treatment. Sperm samples were analyzed at the beginning and end of the study. Significant improvements in sperm quality in the acupuncture group were noted. Treatment was associated with fewer structural defects in sperm and an increase in the number of normal sperm.
Fertility treatment approaches can vary from person to person, but are usually scheduled for at least three consecutive cycles (twelve weeks).
Treatments can include acupuncture, herbal medicine, stress reduction and dietary counseling.
If you or a loved one are suffering from reproductive issues, we would like to help. Contact us to find out how acupuncture can help get you on the path to better reproductive health today.