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Acupuncture For Fertility

Infertility is a difficult issue for many couples. Many people believe that the only option left is to turn to fertility treatments, which can be costly and time-consuming. There are many other options, though! Acupuncture has been shown in studies to help improve infertility rates among those who practice it on a regular basis. We'll take you through what you need to know about acupuncture for infertility treatment right now!

 

The fertility rate in the UK has been declining for decades, and with more couples struggling to conceive than ever before, it's no surprise that people are looking into alternative ways to help them. One of these methods is acupuncture. Acupuncture can be a great way to treat infertility because when used correctly, it stimulates blood flow to the reproductive organs and increases endorphins- both of which work together to regulate the reproductive system. 

The Chinese Medicine approach to treating infertility is holistic, which means that it addresses the entire person, not just the reproductive system. The goal is to restore balance and harmony within the body so that the woman can conceive naturally.

Infertility has plagued many people. Many families have fertility issues. Around 1 in 7 couples may have difficulty conceiving, equating to approximately 3.5 million people in the UK. Infertility is those who have a normal sexual life and have not taken any contraceptive measures and yet are still unable to conceive. There are many causes of infertility. Female factors account for about 40%, male factors account for about 40%, couples have about 10% of factors, and other unclear factors account for the remaining 10%. In addition, about 40% of infertile couples have primary infertility, i.e. they have never been pregnant. 60% of infertile couples have secondary infertility, which refers to couples who have been pregnant but have been unable to conceive a second time. The total fertility rate (TFR) in England was 1.70 children per woman in 2018, The TFR in London was 1.45 and in Kensington and Chelsea was only 1.27 in 2020.

 

As modern life pressure increases, the incidence of infertility has increased significantly. Some factors can affect fertility in both men and women. These include late marriage and childbearing, abortion, being obese (having a BMI of 30 or over), exposure to certain pesticides and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

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40 years after the first child was born using in vitro fertilisation, IVF treatment has become a common treatment for people who are unable to conceive naturally. However, its clinical pregnancy rate has always hovered in the 30% to 50% region, with the embryo implantation success rate as low as 10% to 20%. Failure of repeated IVF has become a bottleneck that hinders the further improvement of the pregnancy rate and is increasingly receiving widespread attention from the reproductive medicine community. 

What Are the Causes of Infertility?

Infertility can be caused by a variety of factors and conditions, and it often involves complex interactions between genetic, physiological, environmental, and lifestyle elements. Here are some of the common causes of infertility in both men and women:

 

Causes of Male Infertility:


Sperm Production Problems: Issues with the production or quality of sperm, including low sperm count or abnormal sperm shape and movement.
Varicocele: Swelling of the veins that drain the testicle, which can affect sperm quality.
Hormonal Imbalances: Problems with hormones that regulate reproduction, such as testosterone.
Genetic Disorders: Conditions like Klinefelter syndrome can affect male fertility.
Ejaculation Issues: Including premature ejaculation or retrograde ejaculation, where semen enters the bladder instead of emerging through the penis.
Infections: Such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can cause scarring and block sperm passage.
Environmental Factors: Exposure to certain chemicals, radiation, and overheating of testicles (e.g., frequent use of hot tubs).


Causes of Female Infertility:


Ovulation Disorders: Problems with ovulation can prevent the release of eggs from the ovaries. Conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hyperprolactinemia are examples.
Uterine or Cervical Abnormalities: Including polyps, fibroids, or malformations of the uterus or cervix.
Fallopian Tube Damage or Blockage: Often caused by pelvic inflammatory disease, usually resulting from STIs.
Endometriosis: A condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, affecting the function of the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes.
Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (Early Menopause): When the ovaries stop functioning and menstruation ends before age 40.
Cancer and its Treatment: Certain types of cancer, particularly reproductive cancers, and treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can affect fertility.


Common Factors for Both Sexes:


Age: Fertility declines with age, especially for women after the age of 35.
Weight: Being overweight or underweight can affect hormone production and thus fertility.
Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs: These can negatively impact fertility and the health of a pregnancy.
Stress: High levels of stress can interfere with certain hormones needed for fertility.
Medical Conditions: Conditions like thyroid problems or diabetes can affect fertility.

History of Acupuncture for Fertility 

 

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine have a long history when it comes to enhancing fertility. It's an ancient art of infertility treatment that may also help improve reproductive health in many ways according to studies. 


The term 'infertility' was first seen as far back into the literature in "Su Wen" (475-221 BC) where physiological problems with menopause were recognised, this continued through Han Dynasty until Huangfu's book on Acupuncture -A B:- Miscellaneous Diseases which showed how acupuncture can be used for women who are infertile because they cannot conceive children or are not able to bear them due to various reasons.

Evolution and Practice
Acupuncture for Women: Historically, acupuncture was used to regulate menstrual cycles, address hormonal imbalances, and treat conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis, which can affect fertility.


Acupuncture for Men: While less emphasized in ancient texts, modern acupuncture also addresses male fertility issues, such as sperm quality and erectile dysfunction.

Integration with Western Medicine
Modern Research: In recent decades, acupuncture has been studied in conjunction with Western medicine, particularly in the field of reproductive health.

IVF and Acupuncture: Studies have explored acupuncture's role in improving the success rates of in vitro fertilization (IVF), with some suggesting it can increase blood flow to the uterus and improve the chances of implantation.

 

Can Acupuncture Boost Your Fertility and Help You Get Pregnant?

 

As a unique treatment method in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture treatment and herbal medicine fertility treatment have been applied more widely in IVF. Clinical studies have shown that acupuncture has achieved good results in improving ovarian function, endometrial receptivity and reducing postoperative complications. Recent research has shown that the acupuncture treated group had a higher parturition rate compared with drug treatment. (Ai 2017)

One study found acupuncture fertility treatment on the day of embryo transfer improved fertility results in women who underwent in vitro fertilisation/intra-cytoplasm sperm injection for reproduction. (Çoksüer 2019)

Researchers found that electroacupuncture can effectively improve sperm motility. (Wu 2021)

Some benefits of acupuncture are pain relief throughout pregnancy including backache, pelvic cramps; fewer issues with constipation during pregnancy; reduction in nausea and vomiting (morning sickness); less discomfort after childbirth; increased energy levels postpartum.

 

Acupuncture as a Complementary Therapy


Integrating with Conventional Treatments: Many people use acupuncture as a complementary approach alongside conventional fertility treatments. It's generally considered safe when performed by a trained and licensed practitioner.


Individual Responses: As with any treatment, individual responses to acupuncture can vary. What works for one person might not work for another.


Considerations



Whole-Person Approach: Acupuncture often involves a holistic approach to health, considering both physical and emotional aspects, which can be particularly beneficial in the often-stressful journey of trying to conceive.

 

How does Acupuncture Help Fertility?- 7 Benefits of Acupuncture for Infertility

Acupuncture treatment may work through several mechanisms to enhance fertility. In addition, the benefits of acupuncture include regulating hormones and improving blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Some studies have shown that it can help lower anxiety levels which would make an infertility treatment less stressful for couples in general (Wang 2015; Stener-Victorin 2000). Furthermore, some research demonstrates its mechanism of action by showing how to influence plasma beta-endorphins via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal gland axis or on uterine artery blood flow. (Stener-Victorin 1996) There are some other theories about how acupuncture may work for infertility:

 

Mechanisms of Action
Regulating Hormones: Acupuncture can help in balancing reproductive hormones by influencing the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which is crucial for managing the menstrual cycle and ovulation.


Improving Blood Flow: Enhanced blood flow to the reproductive organs, particularly the uterus and ovaries, is one of the significant benefits of acupuncture. This improved circulation can provide a more favorable environment for an egg to be nourished and carried to term.


Reducing Stress and Anxiety: Acupuncture has been shown to lower anxiety levels, which is particularly beneficial during fertility treatments. Stress can adversely affect hormone levels and ovulation. By promoting relaxation, acupuncture may improve the likelihood of conception.


Influencing Endorphins: Research indicates that acupuncture can affect plasma beta-endorphins, which are linked to the stress response and pain relief. This effect is achieved through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal gland axis, potentially impacting fertility.


Specific Fertility Enhancements
1. Improves Ovarian Function: By regulating hormones, acupuncture can help improve ovarian function, which is crucial for egg production and quality.
2. Enhances Ovarian Endocrine Function: It may also influence the endocrine function of the ovaries, leading to a more balanced hormonal environment conducive to fertility.
3. Promotes Follicular Development: Acupuncture can aid in the development of healthy follicles in the ovaries, which is essential for successful ovulation.
4. Stimulates Ovulation: For women with ovulation disorders, acupuncture can be a complementary approach to stimulate and regularize ovulation.
5. Regulates Reproductive Hormones: It helps maintain a balanced level of reproductive hormones, which is crucial for the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
6. Improves Endometrial Receptivity: Acupuncture may increase the lining of the uterus's receptivity, which is essential for embryo implantation.
7. Reduces Postoperative Complications: In cases where women undergo fertility-related surgeries, acupuncture may aid in faster recovery and reduce complications.

How Acupuncture Works-Chinese Medicine(Acupuncture) for Infertility

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the dysfunction of organs and meridians mainly causes infertility, which is a common problem. The treatment methods for infertility include acupuncture with herbs to stimulate Qi movement through body energy channels called “meridians” in order to promote fertility. Acupuncture stimulates and moves Qi, a form of life energy that flows from one part of the body into another like blood flowing through your veins or water going down mountainside streams. A traditional Chinese medical approach will take detailed looks at menstrual cycles as well as tongue shape and pulse patterns before making any diagnoses on why some people are not able to conceive children easily because these symptoms vary by individual person so there can be many potential reasons behind it all based on each person's condition. Some researchers believe acupuncture can help the body release some chemicals. These biochemical changes may stimulate the body's natural healing abilities. Acupuncture is also said to influence the autonomic nervous system to reduce inflammation and calm the mind. (Liu 2021)​

 

We see several conditions, including:

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)/Sperm quality/Non-ovulation/Amenorrhea/Unexplained infertility/Fibroids/Endometriosis/High FSH/IVF Assistance/Painful periods

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In which stage should I consider acupuncture?

People often ask, When should I get acupuncture treatment for fertility Acupuncture can be used at any stage of the fertility process. In general, we work with people for a minimum of 3-6 months. It's ideal to have acupuncture once a week for infertility. It gives us time to make a positive impact on egg or sperm quality and increase the success rate during your fertility journey.  If you have any questions, contact our clinic in South Kensington, Chelsea, London.

Are there any risks of doing acupuncture?

Acupuncture is usually safe, and the side effects are very rare. In fact, most acupuncture treatments don't require anaesthesia because the needles are so thin they hardly feel a thing! But it's essential to find a licensed professional. 

 

What to expect in an Acupuncture Session

Many people are nervous at their first visit, as they have never had acupuncture before. You will be asked about your general health as well as specific questions about your current symptoms and medical history when you visit our London clinic. The typical sensation of an acupuncture session is numbness or tingling in the area that has been pierced. Once the feeling subsides, you feel a sense of deep relaxation, making your session very relaxing.

 

Will Fertility Acupuncture Be Covered by My Insurance?

At this time, infertility acupuncture therapy insurance billing is not available. However, we will provide statements to patients who wish to submit them to insurance companies for possible reimbursement.

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If you are experiencing difficulty conceiving a child, you may want to consider using acupuncture as part of your fertility treatment plan. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in increasing fertility rates and helping couples conceive children. We are an acupuncture clinic in South Kensington, Chelsea, London.

Çoksüer H, Barut MU, Bozkurt M, Agacayak E, Sak S, Demir M, Calıskan E. Acupuncture Enhances Chances of Pregnancy in Unexplained Infertile Patients Who Undergo A Blastocyst Transfer in A Fresh-Cycle. Chin J Integr Med. 2019 Apr;25(4):298-302. doi: 10.1007/s11655-018-2918-6. Epub 2019 Jun 25. PMID: 31236890.

 

Wang SJ, Zhang JJ, Yang HY, Wang F, Li ST. Acupoint specificity on acupuncture regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis function. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015;15:87. Published 2015 Mar 27. doi:10.1186/s12906-015-0625-4

 

Stener-Victorin E, Waldenström U, Andersson SA, Wikland M. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Hum Reprod. 1996 Jun;11(6):1314-7. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.humrep.a019378. PMID: 8671446.

Wu X, Chen D, Zhou Y, Xia T. Efficacy of electroacupuncture for the treatment of asthenozoospermia: A protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2021 Jan 29;100(4):e23350. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000023350. PMID: 33530158; PMCID: PMC7850746.

Liu K, Jiang JF, Lu SF. [Effect characteristics and mechanism of acupuncture in autonomic nerve regulation]. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2021 Apr 25;46(4):335-41. Chinese. doi: 10.13702/j.1000-0607.200665. PMID: 33932001.

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