Acupuncture is the insertion of ultra-thin, sterile needles into specific acupuncture points on the body which reside on channels or meridians; these are pathways in both the exterior and interior of the body. These points, when needled, can regulate the way in which the body functions.
Can Acupuncture Be Used To Treat Infertility?
Acupuncture, frequently combined with herbal medicine, has been used for centuries to treat many causes of infertility. (For example, acupuncture and herbs will not work to address tubal adhesions which can occur as a result of pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis.)
However, in this situation, an individual could still benefit from acupuncture and herbs because of the potential effect of improved ovarian and follicular function. Additionally, acupuncture can increase blood flow to the endometrium, helping to facilitate a thick, rich lining.
When Should Acupuncture Treatment Begin?
Acupuncture is similar to physical therapy in that it is a process-oriented method of medical intervention. It is better to do more than less. Patients are commonly treated for three to four months before progressing to insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or donor-egg transfer. This pacing of treatment seems to have a therapeutic effect.
In a study by Stener-Victorin et al from the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fertility Centre, Scandinavia and University of Gothenburg, women are encouraged to receive acupuncture treatments pre and post embryo transfer.
Clinical observations from the Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness suggest that the most effective fertility treatments involve a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and traditional medicine. However, conception occasionally occurs when acupuncture and herbal medicines are used without traditional medical interventions.
When Should I Stop?
Typically most miscarriages occur within the first 3 months of pregnancy. Consequently, treatment of patients may often last through week twelve to help prevent miscarriage.
Are The Acupuncture Points Different After An Insemination, IVF, Or Donor-Egg Transfer Than Before?
Points before insemination, IVG or egg transfer are designed to optimize body function. Before the procedure, acupuncture can be done specifically to ensure the body is ready for fertilization and/or implantation. After insemination, IVG or donor-egg transfer points can be done again to optimize function in an attempt at reducing the risk of miscarriage during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
What Are The Risks Of Using Acupuncture With Infertility?
There are minimal risks in using acupuncture for fertility treatment. The risk of miscarriage may increase if incorrect acupuncture points are used during pregnancy. This is one reason why those choosing to include acupuncture in their treatment regimen should only be treated by an acupuncturist who specializes in treating fertility disorders. Acupuncture is generally safe regardless of a person’s medical history.
Who Make Up Typical Patients?
Acupuncture can be used to treat any type of fertility disorder including spasmed tubes. Spasmed tubes are often de-spasmed with acupuncture, though blocked tubes will not respond to acupuncture. Acupuncture is often combined with herbal remedies to treat elevated follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), repeated pregnancy loss, unexplained (idiopathic) infertility, luteal phase defect, hyperprolactinemia (when not caused by a prolactinoma), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with annovulatory cycles and male factor including men affected with sperm-DNA-fragmentation.
In our office it may also be combined with blood work to identify less than optimum nutritional status so that this can be rectified before pregnancy also
Is Acupuncture A Licensed Profession?
In Missouri, acupuncture is a licensed profession. However, it is important to understand that being licensed and Board certified does not guarantee expertise in reproductive disorders.
Dr Crosby has taught reproductive acupuncture and fertility issues for the Missouri State Chiropractic Association for 6 years in addition to having practiced acupuncture since 1991.
Last Updated: 09/2015