Acupuncture for the Treatment of Infertility
“A new baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities,”
– Eda LeShan, American writer and strong advocate for children.
Unfortunately, not all couples enjoy the privilege of this blessing. Statistics show that 20 percent of couples over 30 years of age struggle to conceive after a year of trying. There are many causes of infertility, and the exact problem can often be difficult to determine. In women, common causes of infertility include some issues with ovulation, damage to or blockage of the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease. In men, common causes of infertility include low sperm count and difficulties with sperm movement.
Factors such as environmental toxins, postponed motherhood, and stressful lifestyles affect hormonal balances and may contribute to infertility. In about half of all clinical cases, the cause of infertility is unknown. Some factors that may contribute to infertility but are not always easy to identify include stress, smoking, drinking alcohol, obesity, and advanced age. Whatever the exact cause may be, acupuncture and herbs have been used successfully to enhance fertility and reproductive health in both men and women in many cases.
Medical literature recording the use of acupuncture and herbs for infertility can be found in documents as old as 3 A.D. Even today, acupuncture is one of the most commonly used methods for infertility outside the fertility clinic.
Some big-name stars, including Mariah Carey and Celine Dion, have successfully delivered healthy babies with the help of acupuncture and herbs. Television host and a popular doctor, Dr. Oz recommends acupuncture for people for a variety of illnesses including infertility.
Research on Acupuncture for the Treatment of Infertility
One of the earliest and best-known studies in the west on acupuncture for infertility was carried out in Germany in 2002. In this study, women who were undergoing IVF were divided into two groups. The first group received acupuncture treatment before and after the transfer of the embryo, and the second group did not. The pregnancy rate of the first group was 42.5% in comparison to just 26% of the other non-acupuncture group.
When acupuncture was used together with modern-day infertility treatments, the overall success rate boosted by 26%! In a recent study conducted at the University of Tel Aviv, the success rates obtained by combining acupuncture and herbs with I.U.I (intrauterine insemination) was 65.5%, while the group that didn’t use acupuncture and herbs showed only a 39.4% success rate.
Who’s responsible – Male or Female?
Forty percent of infertility cases are caused by problems on the male side, while the other 40% on the female side and the rest 20% unidentified factors. An example of some factors causing male infertility is low sperm count and reduced motility of the sperm, and the cause of female infertility stems from difficulties such as non-ovulation and endometriosis. Acupuncture treatment addresses almost all aspects of infertility obstacles.
How Does Acupuncture Help Pregnancy
Acupuncture can stimulate ovulation due to its high effectiveness for minimizing stress hormone production and by restoring hormonal balance. Cortisol is a substance released into the brain when people are stressed. This substance changes the neurochemical balance of the brain and hence alters hormonal levels and disturbs the normal state of the pituitary, which is vital to reproductive cycles. The fallopian tubes and the uterus are affected by spasms induced by stress and that affect egg implantation and movement. In men, sperm motility and count are affected by stress, which may lead to impotency and dysfunction. Acupuncture treatment releases endorphins, which counteract cortisol and stress effects in the brain.
Not only does it increase the flow of blood to the ovaries and uterus, but, acupuncture treatment also reduces the side effects of drugs used, improves the immune system, increases motility, quantity, and even quality of sperm, increases the lining of the uterus and prevents uterine contractions.
Not only does acupuncture treatment increase the blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, but it reduces the risks of complications sometimes experienced when taking certain drugs. Acupuncture as well improves the immune system, increases motility, quantity, and even the quality of sperm, helps the lining of the uterus, and reduces uterine contractions.
Hormone imbalance and infertility
Ovulatory dysfunction can be another cause of infertility. The release of mature eggs can be disturbed due to hormonal imbalances. Also, the embryo may fail to attach to the uterine wall without the required level of progesterone. Increased levels of prolactin, a breast milk-producing hormone, can also lead to infertility.
Hormonal imbalance also serves as a possible cause of male infertility by affecting the production of sperm and motility. The fertility drugs used for women stimulate ovulation by adjusting the pituitary and hypothalamus for hormonal balance. But they do not work for men.
Male infertility is treated with a number of different techniques. One common treatment is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI. This technique involves injecting a single sperm into an egg to fertilize it. If the sperms are unable to penetrate the egg on their own, a needle can be used to insert them into the egg.
Another common treatment for male infertility is in vitro fertilization, or IVF. In this procedure, eggs are removed from the woman’s body and fertilized in a lab using sperm from the man. The fertilized eggs are then returned to the woman’s body to grow and develop into embryos.
Some men may also need surgery to correct problems with their reproductive system that are causing infertility. For example, surgery may be needed to repair blocked or damaged vas deferens.
But, in the case of acupuncture and herbal infertility treatments, both men and women benefit without any side effects. It can help improve the quality of the sperm and egg, as well as help with embryo implantation. That’s why it’s a perfect choice to supplement and aid IVF or IUI treatments.
Oriental Medicine for Infertility
The goal of infertility treatment in Oriental Medicine is not just to induce conception, but to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Many pregnant mothers take acupuncture to alleviate morning sickness and to reduce some discomforts such as low back pain, stress, insomnia, etc. that may accompany pregnancy.
The function of acupuncture doesn’t stop with conception but also treats nausea, lower back pain, morning sickness, anxiety, pain disorders, insomnia, and the aches that accompany pregnancy.
Do call us or email us if you want to discover more about acupuncture and how it works in the treatment of infertility.