Acupuncture, Fertility Research Delivers Healthy Results
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been practiced for thousands of years. Amazingly, the first written gynecological records date back to the Shang dynasty (1500 BC- 1000 BC), but here in the U.S. and other Western countries, people are just beginning to understand and appreciate the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It isn’t easy to compare Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medicine because there are profound differences that underlie the basic notions of your health, body and treatment. Western medicine often takes a more mechanistic view of people – your body may be treated as if it is a collection of machine parts rather than one whole, integrated system. Alternatively, Traditional Chinese Medicine sees individuals as personal ecosystems, with each part depending on, and influencing, all the other parts. This “whole body” approach means that treatment addresses the complete systems of your body rather than just attending to your symptoms. As a result of such a treatment strategy, most patients experience an improvement in their specific condition and also a better overall sense of health and well being.
Below is a selection of studies that can shed some light on the effectiveness of various traditional treatments in an experimental environment categorized by specialty.
Acupuncture Regulates Hormones
- This study shows that the use of acupuncture can regulate and balance hormone levels. This means more communication between the glands and their target sites and leads to better eggs, stronger ovulation and healthier pregnancies.
- Acupuncture Normalizes Dysfunction of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis – Bo-Ying Chen M.D., Professor of Neurobiology
Acupuncture Helps Build Uterine Lining
- This study shows that the use of acupuncture reduces uterine artery impedance. In other words acupuncture helps build a good uterine lining for the embryo to implant and grow.
- Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture – Elisabet Stener-Victorin, Urban Waldenstrom, Sven A. Andersson and Matts Wikland
Acupuncture & Ovulation Induction
- This study demonstrated that acupuncture is an effective method for ovulation induction as well as the remission of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which is caused by ovulation induction drugs. OHSS is at least uncomfortable and at worst life threatening.
- Substitution of Acupuncture for HCG in Ovulation Induction – Cai Xuefen, Obstetrical & Gynecological Hospital, Zhejiang Medical University, Zhejiang Province
- This study finds that repeated Electro-Acupuncture treatments in rats reduced ovarian nerve growth factor concentrations to within normal ranges. This suggests that Electro-Acupuncture may be a safe and effective treatment to regulate hormone production and assisting with ovulation in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Effects of Electro-Acupuncture on Nerve Growth Factor and Ovarian Morphology in Rats with Experimentally Induced Polycystic Ovaries – Elisabet Stener-Victorin, Thomas Lundeberg, Urban Waldenstrom, Luigi Manni, Luigi Aloe, Stefan Gunnarsson, and Per Olof Janson
Role of Acupuncture in Female Infertility
- The researchers reviewed the existing scientific rationale and clinical data on acupunctures influence on the outcome of female fertility. They concluded that because acupuncture is nontoxic and relatively affordable, its indications as an adjunct to IUI or IVF treatments or as an alternative to conventional hormone induction of ovulation deserves serious consideration.
- Role of acupucture in the treatment of female infertility – Raymond Chang, M.D., The Institute of East-West Medicine, The Department of Internal Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Pak H. Chung, M.D., The Department of Internal Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Zev Rosenwaks, M.D., The Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility.
Sub-clinical Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy
- This study reveals that even sub-clinical issues such as hypothyroidism can lead to difficulty getting pregnant as well as a higher rate of miscarriages. It also states that the quality of eggs, rather then the quantity retrieved, is more important for positive outcomes. This reflects the view of Traditional Chinese Medicine which works to improve the potential multitude of sub-clinical imbalances that can exist and coexist in the “infertile” patient. By using TCM, and other natural means, the body’s healing intelligence corrects these imbalances on its own. Hence quality is fostered rather than quantity forced.
- Improved IVF Outcomes After Treatment of Subclinical Hypothyroidism in Infertile Women – Rahman AH, Abbassy HA, Elatif Abbassy AA.
Sympathetic Nervous System and Ovluation
- This study shows that in women who do not ovulate or ovulate irregularly (especially those with polycystic ovaries) Electro-Acupuncture can help by depressing sympathetic activity. This was observed as an increase of hand skin temperature along with a lowering of the level of blood Beta Endorphines in the women where ovulation was achieved.
- Relationship Between Blood Radioimmunoreactive Beta-Endorphin and Hand Skin Temperature During The Electro-Acupuncture Induction of Ovulation – Chen Bo Ying M.D. Lecturer of Neurobiology, Institute of Acupuncture Research, and Yu Jin, MD., Prof of Gynecology, Obstetricus and Gynecology Hospital Shanghai Medical University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
Chinese Herbs & Fertility
Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation
- Research on acupuncture for infertility has proven to be very helpful in demonstrating it’s positive impact on outcomes. This study, however, reveals that Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine (WSTCM) dramatically outperforms the results from research protocols. In other words, the way that acupuncturists treat patients in a clinical setting, giving them a unique diagnosis and treatment plan, offers superior outcomes over the research setting where everyone is treated with the same protocol. https://www.researchgate.net/
publication/273478109_Impact_ of_Whole_Systems_Traditional_ Chinese_Medicine_on_In_Vitro_ Fertilization_Outcomes
- To evaluate whether acupuncture improves rates of pregnancy and live birth when used as an adjuvant treatment to embryo transfer in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.
- Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18258932
Acupuncture balances serum cortisol & prolactin levels with acupuncture during IVF
- “The acupuncture treatments appear to normalize levels of cortisol and prolactin which have been artificially depressed by the IVF drugs. This may have implications for both egg quality and implantation. In addition the pregnancy and live birth rate was significantly higher in the acupuncture group.” – Magarelli, PC, D Cridennda, M Cohen. 2009 Fertility and Sterility
- Changes in serum cortisol and prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilization–embryo transfer treatment. Paul C. Magarelli, M.D.,a Diane K. Cridennda, L.Ac.,b and Mel Cohen, Ph.D. Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Centers and East Winds Acupuncture, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Acupuncture for Intacytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
- These findings suggest that acupuncture may be a useful compliment to gonadotropin therapy among women undergoing ICSI. In this study, acupuncture increased the number of follicles produced as well as estradiol levels.
- Acupuncture Treatment For Infertile Women Undergoing Intracytoplasmic Sperm injection – Sandra L. Emmons, MD, Phillip Patton, MD
- Effect of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study – Stefan Dieterle, M.D., Gao Ying, M.D., Wolfgang Hatzmann, M.D., and Andreas Neuer, M.D.
Acupuncture Improves Pregnancy Rates
- In this study acupuncture was administered 25 minutes before and after embryo transfer during in vitro fertilization. Pregnancies were documented in 42.5% of the acupuncture group, whereas the pregnancy rate was only 26.3% in the control group.
- Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy – Wolfgang E. Paulus, M.D., Department of Reproductive Medicine, Christian-Lauritzen-Institut. Mingmin Zhang, M.D., Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical University, Wuhan, People’s Republic of China. Erwin Strehler, M.D., Department of Reproductive Medicine, Christian-Lauritzen-Institut. Imam El-Danasouri, Ph.D., Department of Reproductive Medicine, Christian-Lauritzen-Institut. and Karl Sterzik, M.D. Department of Reproductive Medicine, Christian-Lauritzen-Institut
Acupuncture and Embryo Transfer
- Two hundred twenty-eight women were divided into either an acupuncture group or a control group. The acupuncture group received treatment three times around embryo transfer during in vitro fertilization. The control group received sham acupuncture with placebo needles. The pregnancy rate was 31% in the acupuncture group and 23% in the control group. This is not considered statistically significant but a later study suggests that sham acupuncture (although not as effective as the true acupuncture) still has a positive effect on outcomes.
- Influence of acupuncture stimulation on pregnancy rates for women undergoing embryo transfer – Caroline Smith, Ph.D., Meaghan Coyle, B.Hlth.Sc. (Acup.), and Robert J. Norman, M.D.
Reproductive Outcomes Improved
- The researchers demonstrated that clinical and ongoing pregnancy rates were significantly higher in patients who received acupuncture before embryo transfer during in vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm ejaculation.
- Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial – Lars G. Westergaard, M.D., Ph.D., Qunhui Mao, M.D., Marianne Krogslund, Steen Sandrini, Suzan Lenz, M.D., Ph.D., and Jørgen Grinsted, M.D., Ph.D.