The benefits of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine in treatment for the infertile couple can be found in early Chinese medical literature dating back to two thousands years ago. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine offer an effective, time-tested approach to enhancing fertility and treating infertility.
On its own, acupuncture can be seen as an alternative way of treating fertility problems. It is also often seen as a complementary therapy to modern fertility treatments. When used alone, though, acupuncture is probably most effective for those couples that are experiencing a functional problem, like irregular ovulation, rather than a structural problem, like a blockage in the sperm ducts.
Many modern researchers have confirmed the benefits of acupuncture in the following areas:
•Regulates the menstrual cycle (and its hormones) to produce a larger number of follicles
•Invigorates sperm- enhancing a man's sperm count and motility.
•Balances the endocrine system
•Improves blood flow in the pelvic cavity
•Increases blood flow to the uterus and increase the thickness of the uterine lining
•Increases the chances of pregnancy for women undergoing IVF
•Improves the function of the ovaries to produce better quality eggs.
•Relaxes the patient and reduces stress
•Prevents the uterus from contracting (and therefore provides a better environment for the embryo to implant)
•Decreases risk of miscarriage
•Decreases risk of ectopic pregnancy
•Improves live birth rate
•Enhances general health
Acupuncture works by helping women stay more relaxed through stressful fertility treatments when it is used as a complementary therapy to modern fertility treatment. Studies have shown that high stress levels decrease the likelihood of conceiving.
In particular, acupuncture definitely increases the rate of pregnancy in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) and minimizes undesired side effects and accumulated toxicity from invasive procedures and drug therapies, known and unknown.
Men can also use acupuncture to treat their fertility problems, including erectile dysfunction or sperm health problems, such as low sperm count, as well as increase libido.
When combined with modern fertility treatment, patients are commonly treated for three to four months before an insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or donor-egg transfer. This period of treatment seems to have a therapeutic effect.
For Women: There are specific hormonal adjustments that can be made at each week of the cycle. Missing a week of treatment may lose an important opportunity to heal a particular segment of the four phase menstrual cycle. It takes a minimum of three consecutive cycles to do the foundation work of regulation regardless of biological age. Most women can benefit from this type of concentrated foundational treatment every two years, even if they aren't trying to conceive.
For Men: It takes 70 days to generate new sperm. Acupuncture and herbs starts to take effect to raise sperm count and motility at the third or fourth month of treatment.
If a woman is nearing forty years old and has had either numerous fertility drugs (over 3 cycles), birth control pills, PMS, ART procedures, elevated FSH, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, sperm antibodies, or a history of drug, alcohol, or smoking abuse, then it usually takes longer to balance her reproductive system. Likewise, if a man has a history of STDs, history of drug, alcohol, smoking, or sexual abuse, urinary tract infections, burning urination, chronic lower back pain, prostatitis, difficulty passing urine, or other urological health issues it takes longer to rejuvenate the reproductive function. The extent of rejuvenation is relative to the effort and inherent constitution of the individual. The couple must expect to focus six to nine months before really expecting to evaluate results. There is no quick path when it comes to conception, full term pregnancy and recovery after delivery.
A recent study from the British Medical Journal found that among women, who received acupuncture and IVF, the pregnancy rates were 65% higher and the rates of live births were nearly twice as high than among women who received IVF with sham acupuncture or no acupuncture. The studies show that acupuncture reduces stress and increases blood flow to the reproductive organs, all of which improves the success rate of IVF. Importantly, acupuncture helps prevent cramping in the womb after IVF treatment, and this not only helps prevent expulsion of the embryo after IVF but it is also important in helping to prevent ectopic pregnancy, as well as assisting implantation of the embryo.
Also, a 2005 study conducted by Shanghai University in China found that acupuncture also helped treat male infertility. Of the men who participated, those who had acupuncture had an increased percentage of sperm in their semen; their sperm structure and morphology was also healthier than their counterparts who did not undergo acupuncture infertility treatment.