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Acupuncture Treatment For Infertility

What is infertility?

Most people will have the strong desire to conceive a child at some point during their lifetime. Understanding what defines normal fertility is crucial to helping a person, or couple, know when it is time to seek help. Most couples (approximately 85%) will achieve pregnancy within one year of trying, with the greatest likelihood of conception occurring during the earlier months. Only an additional 7% of couples will conceive in the second year. As a result, infertility has come to be defined as the inability to conceive within 12 months. This diagnosis is therefore shared by 15% of couples attempting to conceive. We generally recommend seeking the help of a reproductive endocrinologist if conception has not occurred within 12 months. However, there are various scenarios where one may be advised to seek help earlier. These include:

  • Infrequent menstrual periods: When a woman has regular menstrual periods, defined as regular cycles occurring every 21 to 35 days, this almost always indicates that she ovulates regularly. Ovulation of the egg occurs approximately 2 weeks before the start of the next period. If a woman has cycles at intervals of greater than 35 days, it may indicate that she is not ovulating an egg predictably, or even at all. Ovulation of the egg is essential for pregnancy. Therefore, we recommend an evaluation if menstrual cycles are infrequent or irregular in a couple attempting pregnancy.

  • Female age of 35 years or older: For unclear reasons, egg numbers decrease at a rapid rate as women age. Furthermore, as aging occurs, egg quality, or the likelihood of an egg being genetically normal, decreases. Therefore we recommend a fertility evaluation if a couple has been attempting pregnancy for 6 months or more when the woman is 35 years of age or older.

  • A history of pelvic infections or sexually transmitted diseases: Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, can cause inflammation and permanent scarring of the fallopian tubes. The presence of open tubes is essential for natural conception, as sperm must traverse the tubes in order to reach and fertilize the ovulated egg. We recommend immediate evaluation for a couple attempting pregnancy when the woman has a prior history of pelvic infection. As part of the fertility evaluation, we will perform an HSG, a test designed to evaluate if the fallopian tubes are open.

  • Known uterine fibroids or endometrial polyps: Uterine abnormalities, such as fibroids that indent the endometrial cavity and endometrial polyps, can impair how the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and embryo interact to lower implantation and pregnancy rates. These abnormalities can also cause irregular bleeding between menstrual cycles. Evaluation should be pursued by 6 months of attempted pregnancy in women with a known history of these abnormalities or a history of bleeding between menstrual cycles. The main approach to correcting or removing these uterine abnormalities is by hysteroscopy, a surgical method by which a narrow scope with a camera is placed within the uterine cavity. Instruments can be introduced through the hysteroscope, allowing the surgeon to remove or correct any anatomic abnormalities.

  • Known male factor semen abnormalities: If a male partner has a history of infertility with a prior partner, or if there are abnormalities on his semen analysis, then we advise earlier fertility evaluation, ideally within 6 months of attempting pregnancy.

What are the common causes of infertility?

The causes of infertility include the husband factors (sexual dysfunction, abnormal sperm, etc.), but mostly the woman factors, such as ovulation disorder and the disorders of fallopian tube, uterus, cervix and other factors.

 

How does acupuncture work for infertility?

 

The acupuncture treatment mostly works on the ovulation disorder. The acupuncture treatment can promote the ovulation to achieve pregnancy. It has been proven to increase success rates of IVF (in vitro fertilization) by nearly twenty percent when administered in a German study in 2002. Of course, Chinese doctors have known of the benefits of TCM in the treatment of infertility long before it was ever studied in the West, with the first known publications on infertility appearing several hundred years ago. Due to recent studies, we now know that acupuncture affects the pituitary gland and acts on the sympathetic nervous system to reduce stress and regulate hormones. In the treatment of infertility, it has also been shown to increase blood flow to the uterus.

Acupuncture can also improve sperms quality and quantity which can greatly improve a couple's chance of a natural pregnancy.  Recent researches have also shown that acupuncture can greatly enhance the success rates of IVF, IUI (intra uterine insemination), and IVF with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).  By helping to improve the quality of the embryo and decreasing the chances of miscarriage, acupuncture can be utilized successfully in IVF, IUI, and IVF with ICSI protocols.

Cases Reports

1. In 2013, a couple of 44 years old wife and her 50 years old husband visited my clinic. The miscarriage happened 11 years ago is the only pregnancy of the wife. They had already strived to have their own baby naturally for 11 years after her miscarriage but unfortunately they failed. They almost gave up their aspiration to have their own baby until they visited our clinic.

The wife has only one ovary – left side ovary, she has no right side ovary congenitally. The husband suffered from lower amount and activity of sperms.

They are very lucky. The wife got pregnant after only one month of acupuncture treatments for both her and her husband. They finally conceived and successfully give birth to a very healthy girl.

 

2. In 2011, a 36 years old lady visited my clinic. She and her husband had already strived to have their own baby for 5 years by nature and one IVF alone before they visited my clinic, but finally they failed. After about 6 to 7 months of acupuncture treatments, she did another IVF, and this time she successfully got pregnant. She and her husband finally got their own babies – a very healthy twin of girls.

 

3. In 2014, a 31 years old lady visited my clinic. She had never got pregnant before she got acupuncture treatments in my clinic. She already saw her OBGY doctor and all of her gynecologic examination showed normal. Finally she got pregnant after only 2 months of acupuncture treatments and she successfully was delivered a very healthy boy.

 

4. In 2010, a 32 years old lady visited my clinic for infertility. She had never got pregnant before she got acupuncture treatments in my clinic. Her OBGY doctor said her both ovaries functions are very weak. She got pregnant first time in her life after only 2 months of acupuncture treatments and she finally got her first very healthy baby. After her first baby, she wanted to get her second baby. Unfortunately she could not reach her goal after she had strived by nature for 2 years. Then she visited to my clinic again. She got her second pregnancy in her life after only 1 month of acupuncture treatments and she finally got her second very healthy baby.