Fertility & IVF Support

Fertility & IVF Support

Acupuncture for fertility problems has become a popular choice for many couples experiencing difficulty conceiving. Growing infertility rates are largely due to modern lifestyle factors such as financial or work related stress, poor sleep and dietary factors, and choosing to start families later in life. Couples seeking IVF treatment invest an immense amount of time, money and energy into the process of conceiving but many people don’t know that acupuncture can improve the chances of successful IVF cycles.

Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture, has been addressing fertility problems for thousands of years. Its popularity has grown for a number of reasons. Firstly, acupuncture provides a natural and non invasive treatment for emotional and gynecological issues which affect fertility (endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, uterine fibroids, stress, anxiety, depression). Secondly, though Western Medicine processes such as IVF have some wonderful success rates, the process is emotionally taxing and the physical side effects are harsh. Acupuncture is a relaxing and inexpensive treatment to complement IVF treatment and outcomes.

So, how can acupuncture improve fertility?

Women:

  • Regulates the menstrual cycle and ovulation
  • Improves blood flow to reproductive organs
  • Enhances follicular development in order to improve egg quality
  • Thicken the uterus lining to assist embryo implantation
  • Regulates stress hormones which interfere with menstruation and ovulation
  • Reduces inflammation associated with other health problems which impact fertility
  • Improves IVF success rates by 40-60% with pre- and post- embryo transfer treatments.

Men:

  • Adresses issues around sperm count, motility (speed/movement) and morphology (shape)
  • Addresses any general health problems which contribute to poor sperm quality
  • Lowers stress levels associated with modern lifestyle

Acupuncture for stress

Acupuncture is reasonably well known for its ability to help people manage stress. Stress alters the brains neurochemical balance and interferes with hypothalamic and pituitary function and hormone cycles which are vital for reproduction. Stress may prevent ovulation from occurring and cause spasms in the fallopian tubes and the uterus thereby impacting the implantation of a fertilized egg. For men, stress may alter sperm counts, sperm motility and contribute to impotence.

The effects of stress on fertility are well documented in the 2002 Fertility and Sterility journal. Acupuncture reduces stress by increasing production of endorphins – the brain’s “feel good” chemical. According to the researchers, acupuncture regulates the three-way axis between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and ovaries. It makes sense that if stress contributes to infertility then seeking acupuncture treatment is a wise choice to improve the odds of conceiving.

Acupuncture – Fertility & IVF Research

The results from a study at Tel Aviv University found that 65.5% of women who combined intrauterine insemination with Chinese Medicine treatments were able to conceive, compared to 39.4% for the women who did not receive Chinese Medicine treatments (herbs and/or acupuncture).

Another study in 2002, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility Journal, observed that women who received acupuncture for fertility had improved odds of conceiving. In this study of 160 women (80 in each group) undergoing IVF treatment, 42.5% of women receiving acupuncture were able to conceive (34 pregnancies) whereas only 26.3% of women conceived without acupuncture treatment (21 pregnancies). The researchers in this case attributed the effectiveness of acupuncture to improved uterine blood flow which in turn improved embryo implantation. Women who received acupuncture had two treatments, one before the embryo transfer and one directly afterwards.

In 2002, a research paper in the journal Medical cupuncture reported that acupuncture directly impacts the number of egg follicles available for fertilization in women undergoing IVF. Sandra Emmons MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health Sciences University stated “My guess is that acupuncture is changing the blood supply to the ovaries, possibly dilating the arteries and increasing blood flow, so that ultimately, the ovaries are receiving greater amounts of hormonal stimulation.”

For male fertility, a study in 2005 published in Fertility and Sterility Journal, examined sperm count and sperm quality before and after acupuncture treatments. After acupuncture treatments fewer structural defects in sperm were noted and there was an overall increase in the quantity of healthy sperm.

In 2006, a study at the University of Adelaide showed that fertility rates doubled during embryo transfer for IVF patients. The increased likelihood of pregnancy was 31% for those receiving acupuncture treatments and only 23% for non-acupuncture patients. The sample size of this study was small, however when combined with three other very similar trials the results indicated that pregnancy likelihood with acupuncture was almost double.

In 2013, a research team at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology published an article in the Journal of Physiology – Endocrinoogy and Metabolism. The study found that for women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), acupuncture increases ovulation frequency and hormone regulation as it down-regulates testosterone and other masculinizing hormones.

“Acupuncture, which is nontoxic and relatively affordable,

holds much promise as a complementary or alternative fertility treatment.”

Dr. Raymond Chang – Fertility and Sterility Journal 2003

Can Acupuncture help me when I’m pregnant?

Care from a Chinese Medicine practitioner doesn’t stop at conception. Our goal is to support fertility but also to reduce the likelihood of miscarriage by improving blood flow to the uterus so that the lining is better able to absorb nutrients and hormones required to hold an embryo. Pregnancy can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience for some women. Fusion Acupuncture provides a caring and supportive environment for pregnant women who experience common complaints such as lower back pain, pubic symphysis pain, morning sickness, swelling, fatigue, dizziness and insomnia. We recommend fortnightly appointments during the first and third trimester of pregnancy, and monthly appointments during the second trimester. Towards the end of pregnancy, the acupuncture approach with pre-birthing may assist in ripening the cervix to prepare for labour.

If you’re having difficulty becoming pregnant or are about to undergo IVF procedures, contact Fusion Acupuncture & Natural Therapies to find out more about how we can improve your chances of starting a family. Book online, email info@fusion-acupuncture.com.au or call 0448844551

Further information and research on acupuncture treatments for men’s health, women’s health, fertility and IVF support can be found on our Research Articles page and throughout blog posts.