Acupuncture for infertility

Acupuncture has been used by the Chinese and other cultures to treat many medical problems for thousands of years. It has however only in the past 20-30 years started to become popular in the Western Hemisphere as an alternative way to treat disease. Scientists have been skeptical in the past about the benefits of treatments such as acupuncture however recent research has shown that acupuncture is beneficial in the treatment of some medical conditions including infertility.

So how does acupuncture work? The Chinese believe that the body is made up of either qi or chi which is energy. They believe that for the body to be healthy and hearty the qi must be able to flow freely in the body. If any of the bodies energy centers or pathways are blocked or not functioning well then the qi will not flow and the result is disease, damage to the organs and tissues or injury. Acupuncture works by inserting needles into the different energy pathways to restore the flow of energy to the body. This allows the body to heal itself. This is the belief of those who practice acupuncture.

However modern science has had a very hard time with things that cannot be seen or felt. This type of practice is very hard to “prove” to them. It has taken many years and lots of research to come to the point that acupuncture is gaining a firm hold in the medical community as a holistic practice and a viable way to treat certain problems. The National Institute of Health has even studied acupuncture and has come to these conclusions. They feel that by improving circulation to the areas of concern as well as make changes in the central nervous system, acupuncture is able to cause the body to release endorphins that help to relieve pain and neurohormones and neurohormones that give the body the boost it needs to help it heal itself.

In particular how can acupuncture help those couples who are infertile? Well acupuncture is not a magic cure. It cannot remove blockages from fallopian tubes or scar tissue. What acupuncture can do is to help issues that come from hormonal imbalances or things such as irregular menses or ovulation. Acupuncture can be used to help with the stress and strain that infertility and treatments such as IVF cause on a woman’s body as well. Acupuncture should be taken on as a complimentary tool to Western medicine if a couple is infertile, however. All avenues should be taken to help a couple to conceive.

So how do you know that acupuncture can benefit you if you are infertile? Research has shown that acupuncture can definitely be beneficial to those who are enduring IVF to conceive a child. Several studies have been done recently to see what benefit acupuncture would have as a complimentary treatment for infertile women. These studies were done while the women were undergoing IVF or invitro fertilization. One study done in Germany in 2002 showed that among women who were treated with acupuncture and IVF 40% became pregnant while among the control group of women who were treated with IVF alone only 26% were able to become pregnant. A later study done in the United States revealed that among the women who were treated with acupuncture 51% became pregnant while only 36% of the women who had IVF alone became pregnant. They also found that out of those same women the miscarriage rates were much lower among the women who had acupuncture along with their IVF treatments.

Acupuncture has been used to help treat hormonal imbalances in women which cause diseases such as endometriosis and PCOS. These issues can cause infertility as well as other health issues. PCOS affects as many as 5% of all women today. Women with PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome have a condition where small cysts are formed on the ovaries. They secrete hormones in excess which make them have irregular menstrual periods, severe acne, and irregular hair growth. Women with PCOS have irregular cycles they frequently have problems with infertility. They also have much higher rates of miscarriage during their pregnancies. Women with PCOS are three times as likely to miscarry as the average female is during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The University of Virginia conducted studies concerning using acupuncture on women with PCOS to see how it would affect their ability to regulate their menstrual cycles. They were very pleased with the results of the study and found that several women who participated in the study had achieved pregnancy soon after the study was concluded. They did caution that further study was needed but were very optimistic as to the possibilities that acupuncture might give them in this matter.

If you are experiencing infertility and want to learn more about what acupuncture treatments are available to you consult your OB/GYN or infertility specialist for a referral to an acupuncturist that is local to you.

Last updated on Jan 13th, 2011 and filed under Alternative Medicine. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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