Acupuncture & Herbal

Natural Way to Healthy New Life

Research: TCM and Fertility PDF Print E-mail

 

Let's define infertility. The American Fertility Society defines infertility as occurring when “a couple has 1 year of regular intercourse without contraception and has been unable to conceive.” 

There are many factors that may make your conception difficult to achieve and, even after conception, you may face problems bringing your pregnancy to term, which causes frustration, upset and increased stress. However, research using acupuncture to enhance fertility is providing reason for new optimism in the struggle with this old problem.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be used alone or in conjunction with Western medicine. A 2002 German study that received a lot of attention found significantly higher conception rates (42.5% vs. 26.3%) when acupuncture was used with IVF. More recently, two studies published in May 2006, showed that acupuncture can improve IVF success rates. First, in Germany, 225 women undergoing in vitro fertilization participated in a study. Of these, 116 patients received luteal phase (the phase after ovulation) acupuncture according to the principles of TCM and 109 people received a standard protocol of acupuncture. The treatment group using TCM principles had a significantly higher clinical pregnancy rate than the placebo group (33.6% vs. 15.6% respectively). Second, a Denmark study published at the same time examined the effect of acupuncture received on the day of embryo transfer vs. no acupuncture, and they also found a significant increase in pregnancy rates (39% vs. 26%). The researchers concluded that acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer improved the outcome of IVF. A third study published at the same time found the results too small to be considered clinically significant but these researchers also concluded that acupuncture was safe for women undergoing IVF.

Other research is showing acupuncture’s effectiveness with men. A study published in 2005 demonstrated that sperm motility and quality improved after the men received treatment with acupuncture. 

As further proof that TCM has gained acceptance and success, in September, 2005, the University of Maryland received $400,000 from The National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institute of Health (NIH), to research the benefits of Acupuncture combined with IVF. 

In Vancouver on May 18, 2007, Dr. Paul Magarelli, an infertility physician at the Reproductive Medicine & Fertility Center, and Diane Cridennda, an acupuncturist at East Winds, both centers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, presented their research results which were published in Infertility and Sterility in April, 2007. This is one of several studies the two have completed. In the protocol, they used a minimum of 9 acupuncture treatments within 2 months before the embryo transfer. Since this was a research study, each patient received the same treatment. No modification in points was allowed. From a clinical TCM/acupuncture perspective, the treatment protocols were very limited compared to individulized treatment of each patient.

What were their results? Lorne Brown, Doctor of TCM, founder and clinical director of Acubalance Wellness Centre, the first TCM clinic in British Columbia dedicated to reproductive wellness, analyzed the data Dr. Magarelli presented and has posted the following conclusions on his website:

  • Acupuncture does not cause harm to fertility or negatively interfere with an IVF outcome.
  • Acupuncture can statistically improve the live birth rate from IVF to between 10-15%.
  • Acupuncture reduces the number of ectopic pregnancies in an IVF setting.
  • The acupuncture protocol (minimum of 9 treatments using set points) did not affect egg quality BUT it did improve the host. Therefore, it seemed to improve factors affecting implanation rather the egg quality itself.
  •  The mechanism by which acupuncture improves implantation and live birth rates results from acupuncture’s ability to regulate the body’s hormone levels (particularly prolactin and cortisol) to mimic these hormone levels in a natural cycle.

 
 
Joomla 1.5 Templates by Joomlashack