Before planting any seeds it's important to prepare the soil. In pregnancy the body is no different. Acupuncture is used to optimize the conditions in the body that are necessary for successful conception and healthy pregnancy. The idea behind treatment is to regulate the body by appropriating blood flow to optimize organ function, to regulate sleep, to reduce stress (lowering inflammatory factors in our body working against our fertility) and to identify food and lifestyle imbalances that are contributing to poor success. Most women find regular treatment very supportive and an opportunity to build confidence in their body and birth plan. By creating the most healthful environment within the body and mind we create the highest opportunity for success. Acupuncture has been shown to:
Regulate hormones - for optimal egg quality
Acupuncture can regulate the H-P-O axis which in turn can lead to greater follicle production and in turn greater egg production and quality.
Acupuncture has the ability to control pain through stimulating the release of beta-endorphin, a natural occuring opiate in our bodies which has the pain-killing effect of roughly 80x that of morphine. Aside from utilizing the properties of beta-endorphin to treat painful conditions beta-endorphin also affects the source of women’s ovulatory and fertility hormones [the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis (H-P-O)] which is responsible for secreting the hormones that regulate ovulation and fertility. By influencing the H-P-O axis acupuncture can affect the levels are release of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle stimulating hormone (F.S.H.), luteinizing hormone (L.H.) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and normalize their functioning to assist fertility.
The release of beta-endorphins have also been associated with promoting feelings of well-being, inducing relaxation, boosting the immune system and slowing the growth of cancerous cells.
Decreases the chance of miscarriage
Acupuncture relaxes the muscles of the uterus, increases blood flow to uterus, regulates and enhances the immune system, moderates the biological stress response, and regulates the hormonal balance in the body to decrease the chance of miscarriage.
Research has shown that stress levels associated with fertility treatment can be comparable to levels of stress undertaken during serious illness. Physiological stress can be a barrier affecting couples undergoing fertility treatment for both males and females. Stress in the body causes the release of cortisol, and other stress hormones, which have a detrimental affect on egg and sperm quality as well as the mechanisms responsible for normal ovulation and menstruation.
Acupuncture affects on the nervous system, which causes the release of beta-endorphins, lowers sympathetic nervous tone in the body reducing stress and inflammation. Stress in the body will divert blood flow away from the uterus and ovaries and to organ systems that support the "fight or flight response" in the body which is counter productive to success and can cause irregular cycles, anovulation and fertility issues. Regulating the body's stress response and restoring proper blood flow to the organ systems
Stress causes the sympathetic nervous system to be over stimulated causing blood flow to be diverted away from the ovaries and uterus to the adrenals (stress coping gland). This can cause irregular cycles, lack of ovulation, and may lead to infertility.
Improves sperm count, motility, and morphology
Statistically between between 35-40 % of infertility problems amoung couples are caused by male infertility factors. We always encourage treatment of both the male and female for highest success in fertility treatments. Acupuncture has been shown in a recent study, published in Fertility and Sterility, to increase the number of normal functioning sperm and to significantly reduce morphological defects.
IVF And IUI Support
The body will typically respond well to acupuncture over the course of 3 months of regular treatment whether for IVF/IUI support or regular fertility support. Ideally we will see a patient 1 to 2 times per week for the course of the 3 month treatment protocol. Although it is sometimes possible to have fast success in treatment, everyone's body is different and it is not abnormal for those seeking support with IVF/IUI to undergo multiple cycles before a successful pregnancy. It is ideal to maintain regular treatment and for this sustained period of time before each cycle and to continue, if possible, with regular acupuncture after successful implantation to receive the full benefit of an acupuncture protocol. Acupuncture treatment for fertility is very much about regulation so we need to train your body over time to respond to the signals received from the treatment as well as give the body the time to respond appropriately.
Clinical trials have shown acupuncture treatment before and during IVF/IUI transfer increases blood flow to the uterus and ovaries which moderates the environment of both to increase the success of embyro transfer. Acupuncture also has been shown to regulate fertility hormones which may contribute to follicle development and successful implantation. Acupuncture is also a relaxing therapy that can reduce the biological stress response in the body which can translate to higher success rates.
Acupuncture lessens side effects of IVF drugs (Clomid)
Clomid often causes the uterine lining to thin, which is detrimental successful pregnancy. As a result of increased blood flow to the uterine arteries acupuncture can help the uterine lining to thicken and become more uniform in preparation for a successful implantation.
IVF Support - Increases the success of the IVF cycle
Studies have shown that acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterine arteries creating a thicker, more regular lining allowing for IVF to be more successful. Acupuncture also improves ovarian blood flow to increase ovarian response.
“Acupuncture May Improve Success Rate of IVF Pregnancies: Patients in the acupuncture group received two acupuncture sessions – the first treatment before embryo transfer, the second treatment after the transfer. In the acupuncture group, the pregnancy rate was “considerably higher” – 34 women (42.5%) were carrying a fetal sac at the time of examination.” “Relaxing the uterus with Acupuncture treatment allows for more successful IVF.”
Recent studies of acupuncture for infertility show:
- Acupuncture before IVF increases chances of conception by 65%
- A randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study showed that the pregnancy rates more than doubled (15.6% to 33.6%) for IVF/ICSI treatment when acupuncture was given.
- A randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study showed that miscarriage rates decreased (15.4% to 11.8%) for IVF/ICSI treatment when acupuncture was given.
- A randomized, prospective trial showed that a single session of acupuncture can increase the chances of pregnancy in infertile women.
- A randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study showed that implantation rates almost tripled (5.9% to 14.2%) for IVF/ICSI treatment when acupuncture was given.
- Using doppler ultrasonography, it was observed that acupuncture can lower arterial uterine blood flow impedance, a key to optimal endometrial receptivity.
- Clinical and experimental evidence shows that acupuncture has long-lasting benefits for women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and anovlulation.
- Acupuncture can benefit men who have abnormal sperm, or low sperm counts.