Infertility

Enhancing Male and Female Fertility

Acupuncture has a long history of being used to enhance fertility—more recently, it’s been used with assisted reproductive techniques, such as in vitro fertilization, to improve results. Most types of infertility can be treated with acupuncture, either alone or with conventional techniques. By helping restore the energetic balance of the body, acupuncture can:

  • Regulate hormones and the menstrual cycle
  • Treat cysts, endometriosis and fibroids
  • Stimulate ovulation
  • Decrease pain
  • Manage side effects from hormonal treatment

Further, acupuncture strengthens the immune system and increases blood flow to the uterus, which benefits the endometrial lining. In men, acupuncture has increased sperm count, structure and motility. For both sexes, the relaxation associated with acupuncture helps patients deal with the stress of infertility.

During IVF, acupuncture can decrease uterine contractions around the embryo transfer and decrease the chances of miscarriage.

Treating Infertility in Women 

Since the body shifts weekly throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle, treatment is recommended once a week. The first goal of treatment is to regulate the menstrual cycle, Next, fertility becomes the main goal—it’s normal for treatment to take between three and 12 months when using acupuncture alone to achieve pregnancy. All treatments are based on the timing of the patient’s cycle and the underlying reasons for infertility.

Furthering the Success of In Vitro Fertilization 

In April 2002, Fertility and Sterility published a report regarding the ability of acupuncture to improve the success rates of in vitro fertilization. During the study, two groups of in vitro patients were observed—one group underwent acupuncture 25 minutes before and 25 minutes after embryo transfer. The group using acupuncture experienced a 42.5% success rate compared to the 26.3% success rate among the group that did not receive acupuncture treatments. Researchers have concluded that acupuncture had increased blood flow to the uterine arteries while reducing uterine contractions.

Though benefits from acupuncture can be gained at any point during the in vitro fertilization process, the ideal time to begin acupuncture is three months prior to an embryo transfer. Summit Acupuncture recommends initiating treatment no later than the start of ovarian stimulation. Weekly treatments will be scheduled and may include heat lamps and the burning of mugwort over certain acupuncture points.

Treatments are also advised within a 24 hour period before the embryo transfer. And, women who become pregnant are advised to continue acupuncture through week 14. These treatments will focus on preventing miscarriage and, if necessary, treating morning sickness.