At the Alberta College of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, our College Clinic has been having great success in helping women get pregnant naturally or in conjunction with assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures, such as IVF.
Due to stress and anxiety in the fast-paced world today, women are often physically, mentally and emotionally depleted with constrained energy in their bodies. This stagnant energy or Qi creates blockages in their pelvis creating conditions such as irregular and painful menstrual cramps, endometriosis, fibroid tumors, PMS symptoms, irregular cycles, polycystic ovarian syndrome and so on. Later in life, these disharmonies may result in difficulties with fertility by affecting different parts of the reproductive cycle - production of the egg, fertilization of the egg and implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus.
Research has shown that infertility worldwide is an increasing concern. It's actually one of the most common problems that couples deal with in this day and age. Infertility isn't a 'new' problem. It has always existed. However, many couples felt there was a social stigma associated with this disease so very few couples would admit to this problem.
In general, the aim of the acupuncture treatment is to clear any stagnation of qi and blood, and create an abundance of kidney yin and yang energy that is vital for good fertility. As this begins to happen, patients may experience changes such as a reduction in period pain and improved period regularity. Patients may also feel more energetic and relaxed overall. This will simply be a reflection of the internal changes brought about by the acupuncture treatment.
The most recent research (01-11-2012) on "Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization" conducted twenty-four randomized controlled trials of 5,807 women examined the effects of acupuncture, electroacupuncture and laser acupuncture on IVF success rates. Control groups consisted of placebo acupuncture, sham acupuncture and noacupuncture. Researchers concluded that acupuncture helps to prevent egg implantation failure, and they also discovered that live birth rates significantly increased when acupuncture was administered near the time of either oocyte aspiration or controlled ovarian hyper-stimulation.
In a 2004 study conducted by the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center in Colorado found that 51% of women who underwent both IVF and acupuncture treatment at the same time became pregnant, while only 36% of those who only underwent IVF did. The latter group also had higher rates of miscarriage stillbirth (20%) compared to those women who had received acupuncture (8%).
Recent researches show acupuncture may help in the treatment of infertility by:
- Regulating fertility hormones - stress and other factors can disrupt the function of the hypothalamic pituitary-ovarian axis (HPOA). Acupuncture promotes the release of beta-endorphin in the brain, which regulates gonadatrophin releasing hormone from the hypothalamus, follicle stimulating hormone from the pituitary gland, and oestrogen and progesterone levels from the ovary (Anderson 2007).
- Increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs (Ho 2009, Anderson 2007), which can improve the thickness of the endometrial lining, so increasing the chances of embryo implantation.
- Increasing egg production (Jin 2009) and improving oocyte quality (Chen 2009), which could increase the chance of fertilization.
- Enhancing luteal function (Huang 2009).
- Regulating follicle stimulation hormone-receptor expression (Jin 2009).
- Normalizing cortisol and prolactin levels on IVF medication days (Magarelli 2008); reducing stress (Anderson 2007).
- Promoting embryo implantation (Liu 2008).
At ACATCM, we are committed to providing results-driven premier quality care to our patients. To discuss your health and wellness needs, contact our College Clinic at: 403-286-8788.