For couples navigating the possibility of assisted reproduction, many will find themselves considering an IVF or an IUI cycle to become pregnant. IUI entails a combination of hormones to stimulate a woman’s ovaries and the insertion of sperm directly into the uterus during ovulation to boost the probability of conception. On the other hand, IVF uses various surgical procedures and medicines to facilitate the sperm in fertilizing an egg and assisting the fertilized egg implant in the uterus.
If you’re like most undergoing IVF or an IUI cycle, you will want to know what you can do to increase the chances of success. Acupuncture treatment during IVF or an IUI cycle can optimize your body for conception and boost the probability of pregnancy. Acupuncture works by improving blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, reducing stress, and regulating hormones. All these things combined grow your chances of taking a baby home with you.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about acupuncture for fertility, including how fertility acupuncture works, where to find an acupuncturist with the relevant training, and much more.
a. Research on Acupuncture for Fertility, IUI, and IVF
The Chinese have used acupuncture to regulate the female reproductive system for thousands of years. Laboratory and clinical studies show that acupuncture impacts the peripheral and central nervous systems. Accurately-placed needles prompt the brain to release endorphins that regulate the hormone levels in the body and moderate the stress response.
Here is a complete breakdown of acupuncture research involving fertility, IUI, and IVF.
1. Enhancing Embryo and Egg Quality
To ensure the health of your future child, you have to start with healthy eggs. Research reveals that acupuncture can improve the quality of the egg and embryo, resulting in higher chances of a successful pregnancy.
In a particular study, researchers studied the impact of acupuncture on females who had previously been diagnosed with infertility. The research revealed that acupuncture could help to enhance the high-quality egg rate and high-quality embryo rates for females experiencing infertility. (Fang Lian, 2015)
2. Boost IVF Success
Acupuncture can lead to the success of IVF treatments in several ways. Research supports the ability of acupuncture to improve pregnancy outcomes, clinical pregnancy rates and assist couples with a history of IVF failure.
In a certain review of past studies, researchers investigated 30 trials with over 6,000 participants treated with IVF and acupuncture. Based on the results of the research, researchers came to the conclusion that acupuncture can improve clinical pregnancy rates in women going through IVF treatment. (Yi Qian, 2017)
Another research looked at how acupuncture can improve IVF results. Researchers discovered that after multiple acupuncture treatments, participants experienced lower stress, better patient satisfaction, and enhanced endometrial thickness. (Lee E Hullender Rubin, 2018)
3. Beneficial for IUI
There is very little research investigating the impact of acupuncture on IUI specifically. One notable study from Israel revealed that women who used a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs with their IUI cycle had a pregnancy rate of 65.5 percent. On the other hand, women who did the IUI alone had a pregnancy rate of 39.4 percent.
In addition, the live birth rates were 41.1 percent in the women who used acupuncture and 26.9 percent in the group that used IUI alone.
b. What Is Infertility
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive within 12 months or longer of unprotected sex. Since fertility in females is known to decline steadily with age, certain healthcare providers assess and treat females aged 35 years and above after 6 months of unprotected sex.
c. Anatomy and Structure Associated with Infertility
A problem with the woman’s anatomy and structure can prevent the sperm and egg from meeting. One of the most common problem is blocked Fallopian tubes. A blockage of one or both the tubes can prevent the sperm from meeting and fertilizing an egg.
There can be several potential causes of Fallopian tube blockage:
- Hydrosalpinx, when a Fallopian tube is filled with fluid.
- Tubal adhesions or scarring from salpingitis, a previously untreated or undetected infection of the tubes.
- Endometriosis lesions within the uterine lining.
D. Western Medical Reasons For Infertility
Several things can lead to infertility. It can either be a problem with the female reproductive system or male reproductive system, or both. Here are the things that can impact fertility.
- Endometriosis – The tissue lining the uterus implants outside the uterus.
- Ovulation Issues – The woman doesn’t make sufficient hormones to develop, mature, and release a healthy egg.
- Infection – Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is caused by a sort of bacteria like chlamydia and gonorrhea. It can impact the Fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries, or all of these.
- Reduced or little sperm production. Without sufficient healthy sperm, the probability of fertilization decreases.
- Abnormal sperm function.
- Hormonal disorders
Chromosome defects – Certain defects are associated with male infertility.
E. How Does Chinese Medicine View Infertility
According to Chinese medicine, the causes of female infertility include menstruation abnormalities, congenital issues, organ dysfunctions, issues of the the blood or Qi, malfunctions in the Ren or Chong meridians, and others.
Based on mechanisms and symptoms, female infertility can be categorized into at least five major patterns, including kidney vacuity, congenital deformity, liver depression, blood stasis, and phlegm-damp. Chinese medicinal therapies for female infertility include Chinese herbs with single formula therapy, menstruation cycle therapy, pattern identification, moxibustion, and acupuncture. (Lin, 2008)
Last Few Words
Even though acupuncture is regarded as an alternative treatment, its efficacy in treating infertility is remarkable, and many patients are now using it as a conjunction to fertility treatments. Make sure to speak with an expert to get the relevant treatment.
At American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) Main Clinic, we offer one of the best treatments in traditional Chinese medicine to patients. Schedule a consultation with us by calling 713-780-9786. Patients can schedule appointments at any ACAOM at Houston Methodist Hospitals at 713-441-5980. Apart from acupuncture for fertility, we also specialize in cupping, herbal medicine, and various other treatments.
Fang Lian, C. C. (2015). Improvement of the oocyte quality with electroacupuncture in infertility patients of kidney deficiency pattern. 109 – 113.
Lee E Hullender Rubin, B. J. (2018). Acupuncture and in vitro fertilisation research: current and future directions. Acupuncture in Medicine.
Lin, C.-S. (2008). Female infertility from the perspective of Chinese medicine. Hu Li Za Zhi.
Yi Qian, X.-R. X. (2017). Therapeutic effect of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 543 – 558.