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Acupuncture for Infertility

April 25, 2014

A lot of adults think that the most purposeful and exciting time in their lives is to have and raise a family of their own. Deplorably, however, approximately 25% of adults in the United States are unable to conceive. Their choices then are to resort in treatments and techniques to attain conception which can be distressing and disappointing processes that can eventually result to monetary and emotional pressure.

If couples are unable to conceive for at least a whole year, they are then deemed or diagnosed to be infertile. There can be several complications that can develop or arise during the conception process.  Infertility can strike both sexes roughly equally. For men who are infertile, they comprise approximately 40% of infertility cases. Low sperm count, bad sperm quality, poor sperm motility and some other abnormalities can all bring about infertility among the human male species.

One the other hand, women, on the other hand contribute to about half (50%) of the cases of infertility. The reproductive system of the female is more complex than that of the male. Certain issues arising there like obstructed fallopian tubes, deficient ovarian reserve, and hormone irregularities and other problems can all lead to a woman’s incapability to conceive. Also both the male and female partner can be infertile but in most cases one part of the couple is the one infertile.

About 10% of infertility cases are of unknown cases (idiopathic cases).  This type of infertility is quite a difficult one to diagnose and it often affects couples who are seemingly healthy overall.

Considering the Options

Infertile couples who really want to become parents of natural born children will seek help from fertility specialists to see what is specifically wrong with them. They need to undergo tests that help specialists to know what procedure is best for their condition. Some of the assisted reproductive techniques (ART) for addressing infertility can include GIFT, ZIFT, ICSI, IUI as well as IVF.  Most of the procedures basically require the female to receive hormones that can stabilize and improve the process of ovulation as well as implantation. These procedures can be quite successful although they can take a firm commitment financially and time-wise on couples many of them cannot make.

Due to their costliness, these aforementioned therapies are not often considered. These days, a growing number of couples are opting for natural therapies to help them conceive. These types of therapies can either be used as a standalone therapy or as a complementary modality for IVF as well as other ART procedures.  The most commonly used of these natural modalities are traditional Chinese medicine modalities like acupuncture.

What New Research Reveals About Acupuncture

Even with tons of research done on acupuncture for years, the mystery of how it really works still has not yet been discovered.  Researchers have two theories as to how acupuncture works in treating several conditions. One theory uses TCM’s concept of “meridians” and “vital energy” known as “chi”. The second theory uses modern scientific evidence to explain the physiological processes that happens when acupuncture needles are inserted into the skin.

The Connection between Acupuncture and the Brain

When an acupuncture needle is inserted into the skin, some very interesting changes happen in the body and brain. Newer research has revealed that changes in the brain happen when the acupuncturist uses needles to stimulate these areas. Some of the latest functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have validated this connection. Researchers have observed that acupuncture actually helps release endorphins that affect the gonadotropins FSH and LH when the therapy is used to treat infertility. LH and FSH affect and stabilize the functioning of the ovaries and testes. Furthermore, the needles also seem to improve blood circulation to the uterus, improving the environment that becomes more conducive for implantation. So what acupuncture does is to greatly improve the body’s ability to conceive by regulating the woman’s hormone production, among others. Regulated hormones imply regular menstruation, timely ovulation, good implantation and a perfect environment for conception.

One major cause of infertility is stress. Stress from personal problems, financial stress and work all play a part in hormonal irregularities and so can impact fertility.  Certain women undergo a stressful event that causes them to skip their period.  Fortunately, acupuncture is a very popular stress relieving procedure and has as a positive calming effect for women undergoing stressful fertility treatment processes.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

The benefits of Chinese herbal medicine cannot certainly be ignored in spite of acupuncture being the most studied type of natural alternative therapy for infertility. The use of the correct herbal formula can certainly help regulate the menstrual cycle and provide a great opportunity to achieve successful conception. There are also various kinds of herbal formulas that boost male fertility and treat problems like low sperm count and erectile dysfunction. These herbs can very powerful medicine and as such need to be only prescribed by TCM practitioners specializing in traditional Chinese herbal medicine.

IVF and Acupuncture: Great ART Combination

One of the most commonly used ART procedures to attain conception is In-Vitro Fertilization or IVF.  The March 2008 issue of the British Medical Journal stated that the rate of pregnancy and live birth is considerably improved when acupuncture is given along with embryo transfer for women undergoing IVF.

IVF therapies have truly helped a lot of couples realize their dream of being proud parents of their own natural born children. Still, in spite of this wonderful achievement these techniques do not address certain factors which play important roles in our health that can impact our fertility. These factors like stress management, dietary choices, sleep and emotional health are ignored.  The good news is that a lot of medical physicians and fertility specialists are beginning to be aware of new research works and are now seeing the value of acupuncture on couples who want a better integrated approach to their health. If you are seriously considering acupuncture as a way to treat your infertility or improve your chances to achieve conception then you can consult with a licensed acupuncturist or a licensed TCM practitioner to know how acupuncture can be of help in resolving your fertility or conception problems.