Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat fertility of both males and females.
As Eastern medicine is now widely accepted in the Western medical domain we have more and more scientific studies being conducted proving its effectiveness both on its own and in conjunction with Western medicine in the fertility area.
Acupuncture practitioners are skilled at determining each individual patients needs and create a customised plan to enhance the reproductive potential of the patient.
Amenorrhea refers to the lack of a menstrual bleed for at least 3 periods in a row. Some of the causes may include exercise induced Amenorrhea, PCOS, Hormonal insufficiencies and imbalances with the Hypothalmic-Pituitary-Ovarian axis. Customised treatments are carried out, or on occasions herbs are provided, based on each specific case to help the ovaries ovulate. This will encourage the return of a regular cycle. Dietary and lifestyle advice will be provided to support the treatment.
- Decrease Ovarian Reserve:
As women age their ovarian reserve(or their capacity to produce viable eggs) naturally decreases. For some women this can occur prematurely, for others, the right time to conceive doesn’t come until later in life and so this natural decrease in reserve can pose a problem with fertility. In both cases recent studies show that acupuncture and herbs can help women who have been diagnosed with decreased ovarian reserve to achieve pregnancy.
- Elevated FSH:
Follicle Stimulating hormone (FSH) is a hormone released from the pituitary gland that tells the ovaries to start preparing to release an egg to ovulate each month. As we age this hormone can become elevated and is associated with decreased fertility. FSH levels respond very well to Acupuncture treatments. Most fertility clinics require the FSH to be at a certain range to proceed with reproductive treatments, so regulating this hormone is important for fertility and the success of treatments such as IVF.
Endometriosis is the leading cause of Pelvic pain. It can seriously effect a woman chances of conceiving. It can also be associated with heavy or irregular menstrual periods. Sometimes there are no symptoms and is only revealed when there are issues with conceiving. Acupuncture is used in managing the symptoms such as pain and menstrual disturbance. It is performed at specific times of the cycle.
- Immune Factors:
Implantation of the Embryo in the uterus is a vital and pivotal event which determines the success of the pregnancy. The immune system plays a crucial role in this process of implantation. A positive finding of anti-Cardolipin antibodies, anti-thyroid antibodies, anti-nuclear antibodies or an excess of NK cells can indicate an imbalance of the immune environment of the uterus which may hinder the prospect of establishing a healthy pregnancy. It is thought that Acupuncture may modulate immune function possibly through its ability to increase endorphins and other neurotransmitters.
- Irregular Menstruation:
Many women experience irregular periods each month which renders conception difficult. The irregularity is generally due to a hormonal imbalance. Acupuncture is excellent in hormone regulation allowing for a more predictive ovulation cycle which encourages a more successful conception.
- IVF/IUI Support:
Clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of Acupuncture used in conjunction with IVF.They have shown a 50% increase in success rates with Acupuncture + IVF versus IVF alone. Acupuncture works to increase success rates of these interventions by increasing the blood flow to the ovaries during the stimulation process and improves the effect of the drugs given. It relaxes the uterus and addresses uterine spasm after embryo transfer. Acupuncture reduces stress, anxiety and helps in managing the side effects of the drugs given throughout the IVF/IUI protocol.
- Luteal Phase Defect:
When the Luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (phase after ovulation and before menses) is less than 10 days it is labelled a Luteal Phase Defect. Women with this condition often have problems conceiving and may have low levels of progesterone. Acupuncture will help to support the ovarian function, improve progesterone levels and lengthen the luteal phase.
- Male Factor Infertility:
Acupuncture can help improve sperm count, motility and morphology as well as correcting some immune factors such as anti-sperm antibodies that can interfere with conception.
- Ovarian Cysts:
Ovarian cysts can cause pelvic pain and may be naturally occurring or be a side effect of fertility treatment. Acupuncture can help to resolve these.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can often impede natural conception as it is often accompanied with irregular cycles and anovulation(no ovulation). Acupuncture can reduce some of the factors that prevent these ovaries working correctly. For example studies are showing Acupuncture reduces testosterone and LH (Lutenising Hormone) levels promoting conditions for more frequent ovulation and better egg quality.
- Recurrent Miscarriage:
There are many causes of recurrent miscarriage, some of which may be addressed with Acupuncture. Again studies have shown acupuncture can be used to prevent miscarriage in early pregnancy. It is advised to continue Acupuncture into the pregnancy.
Stress is a major contributor to hormonal imbalance and is invariably accompanied by lack of sleep and a bad diet. The body reacts to these stressors by diverting blood away from systems such as the digestive and reproductive organ system as it assumes this chronic ‘fight or flight’ status. This sustained level of stress releases abnormally high levels of cortisol and adrenaline. The bodys protective mechanism recognises this environment as unhealthy to carry a foetus and infertility results. Acupuncture increases the flow of blood to reproductive organs and reduces levels of cortisol and adrenaline therefore reverting the body back to being a ‘sage and healthy’ environment for a developing foetus.
- Unexplained Infertility:
A diagnosis of unexplained fertility can be difficult to receive. One of the strengths of Chinese medicine is the subtle changes it makes so even though the clinical testing isn’t highlighting any defects there are many sub optimal conditions that can be impeding progression. Remember the body wants to be healthy and strives to do so. Acupuncture provides the support required to do this by balancing hormone and energy levels throughout the body for optimal health. Nutrition and lifestyle guidance is also of paramount importance at this stage.