How Can Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Help with Reproductive Health and Fertility?
TCM works to restore balance to the body and the specific bodily systems that are responsible for regulating hormones.
Research continues to grow regarding acupuncture and its effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which plays a major role in fertility, especially with regards to:
- Enhancing the development and release of mature and healthy eggs,
- PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome),
- Endometriosis, and menstrual issues such as painful periods, absent periods, very heavy and /or prolonged periods,
- Thin/insufficient endometrial lining.
- Premature menopause.
- Unexplained infertility.
- Anxiety, Stress, and hormones secreted during stressful situations – such as cortisol – which can decrease fertility.
When Is The Best Time To Start Treatment?
When possible, it’s best to start treatment before you begin trying to conceive or undergo IUI or IVF. There are several reasons for this:
- It takes about 150 days for an egg to grow from a follicle in its resting state, into a full-blown egg ready to be released (and follicles are selected from a pool of resting follicles almost a year before ovulation!).
- It takes 70 to 90 days for a sperm to grow and mature.
However, many people don’t find out about the benefits of acupuncture until they have already started trying to conceive or have started Western fertility treatments. In these cases, it’s best to start treatment as soon as possible.
It’s never too late to start using Acupuncture.
We are here to support you, and therefore will work to support the program that your western fertility specialist prescribes if you are using one.
How Does Stress Affect Fertility?
Our body’s biochemical response to stress has a major effect on the reproductive system.
Whether due to a major event , the constant stressors of daily life, or the stress of not being able to conceive, the reaction to stress has the following effects:
- It increases our levels of adrenaline, which inhibits our ability to use progesterone, one of the key hormones in reproduction.
- It increases levels of cortisol, which inhibits implantation of the fertilized egg.
- It also increases levels of prolactin, which inhibits fertility by decreasing or halting ovulation.
A hyper-stimulated nervous system sends blood away from the uterus and ovaries to the essential organs, thus lessening the overall function of our reproductive system.
Stress and Fertility – How Acupuncture Helps
- Acupuncture releases endorphins and serotonin, which have a calming effect on the body. These chemicals decrease the physical symptoms of stress by:
- Reducing heart rate,
- Lowering elevated blood pressure,
- Relaxing the muscles
- Acupuncture also improves blood circulation throughout the body, which oxygenates tissues and cycles out cortisol and other damaging chemicals.
- Women who are treated with acupuncture often report feelings of relaxation, calm and peacefulness and of being energised following treatment. Since infertility and its treatment are associated with considerable stress and anxiety, there is significant benefit to be achieved from this.
- Furthermore, there are studies that have reported higher pregnancy rates from IVF when stress reduction and anxiety-relieving methods are employed.
Is There Anything Else I can do to Improve my Fertility?
There are many things that you can do for yourself to improve your reproductive health. As part of your individualised treatment plan you will receive advice on fertility-related areas such as diet & nutrition, relaxation, environmental factors, ‘what to do’ and ‘what to avoid’, and so on.
Male factors account for approximately 40% of all fertility problems. One reason for this is that the average male sperm count has dropped significantly over the past few generations. For example, one study showed that the average sperm count has dropped 30% since 1980. Semen volume has also dropped, reducing the total number of sperm per ejaculation.
The number of men with low sperm counts has tripled, while the number with high sperm counts has decreased.
The reasons for declining sperm counts seems to be our increased exposure to environmental pollutants, increased use of recreational drugs and alcohol, and prescription medications, and stress. Studies show that although smokers generally have lower sperm counts and more abnormal sperm, once smoking is stopped sperm improve significantly within 6-12 months
Since new sperm generally take 70 to 90 days to form, it’s best ti start Acupuncture treatments as soon as possible.
Why should I get Acupuncture during Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is an exciting and wonderful time. However, with the many physical and hormonal changes that occur, it can also be a time of discomfort.
Many pregnant women suffer from fatigue, nausea/vomiting, backache, reflux, and other conditions that are considered a “normal” part of pregnancy. Acupuncture may assist with these complaints.
Common Pregnancy Conditions assisted by Acupuncture include:
- morning sickness
- low energy
- pregnancy headaches
- fluid retention
- back pain, hip pain, pubic symphysis pain
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia)
- certain types of threatened miscarriage
- breech presentation
- delayed labour
- lactation problems
- post natal depression
- natural labour induction
Acupuncture Fertility Brisbane – contact our team now and choose from male or female practitioners.
Research of Acupuncture for fertility:
There is a growing body of research supporting Acupuncture assisting with fertility issues.
Examples of various Research Studies:
Regulating reproductive hormones.
- Lim CE, Wong WS. Current evidence of acupuncture on polycystic ovarian syndrome. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2010 Mar 16.
- Stener-Victorin E, Wu X. Effects and mechanisms of acupuncture in the reproductive system. Auton Neurosci. 2010 Mar 27..
Improving blood flow to the reproductive organs.
- Stener-Victorin E, Humaidan P. Use of acupuncture in female infertility and a summary of recent acupuncture studies related to embryo transfer. Acupunct Med. 2006 Dec;24(4):157-63.
- Huang ST, Chen AP. Traditional Chinese medicine and infertility. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Jun;20(3):211-5.
Increasing endometrial receptivity.
- Zhong Y et al Acupuncture in improving endometrial receptivity: a systematic review and meta analysis . BMC Complementary and alternative medicine 2019 March 19:
Acupuncture may improve the menstrual health of those women who are experiencing delays in falling pregnant.
- Cochrane S et al, March 2014 Volume 2014: 6 Pages 313—325 International Journal of Women’s Health
- Ried K, Stuart K. Efficacy of traditional Chinese herbal medicine in the management of female infertility: a systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2011; 19(6): 319-331. PubM
‘Acupuncture improves the clinical pregnancy rate in women undergoing IVF.’
- An August 2016 systemic review and meta-analysis by Qian et al. published in Arch Gynecol Obstet in December 2016 investigated some of the controversy surrounding Acupuncture-IVF outcomes research. The study concluded that ‘Acupuncture improves the CPR (clinical pregnancy rate) in women undergoing IVF.’ The review covered 30 trials with a total of 6344 participants.
- It further noted ‘… optimal positive effects could be expected using Acupuncture in IVF during COH (controlled ovarian hyperstimulation).’