Acupuncture can do many things to increase the chances of achieving pregnancy. It can: (Regulate the Menses) Controlling irregular menstruation can enable couples to better predict the time of ovulation. It is important for a woman to ovulate at the optimal time so that the body is prepared to transport the egg and receive the embryo. (Increase the Uterine Lining) Acupuncture can increase the blood flow to the uterus, resulting in a thicker uterine lining, creating a more nurturing environment for an embryo to implant. (Improve Sperm) Separate studies have shown that acupuncture can increase sperm count, sperm motility, and the percentage of sperm that are normal within a given sample. (Prevent Miscarriage) Acupuncture is known to help secure a fetus and prevent a miscarriage.
In conjunction with In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), acupuncture may help: (Regulate the Hormones) This is important because a woman’s hormone levels must fall within a desired range in order to continue with treatment. (Increase the Likelihood of Implantation) A study conducted in Germany found that women who underwent the traditional IVF protocol, became pregnant at a rate of 26%. Women who also received acupuncture in addition to the traditional treatment had a 43% rate of success.
Fertility & Sterility, Vol.77, No. 4, April 2002.
The study evaluated the effect of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in assisted reproduction therapy (ART) by comparing a group of patients receiving acupuncture treatment shortly before and after embryo transfer with a control group receiving no acupuncture. A group of 160 patients were divided into two groups through random selection: embryo transfer with acupuncture (n=80) and embryo transfer without acupuncture (n=80). Clinical pregnancies were documented in 34 of 80 patients in the acupuncture group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3% (21 out of 80 patients) in the control group. This significant effect of acupuncture was re-confirmed in 2006 as Fertility & Sterility published two similar studies that showed a 13% and 18% implantation success rate in the acupuncture groups over the control groups.
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, Vol. 79, No. 3, March 2000.
The study was designed to evaluate if electro-acupuncture (EA) could affectoligo-/anovulation and related endocrine and neuroendocrine parameters in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Twenty-four women (between the ages of 24 and 40 years) with PCOS and oligo-amenorrhea were included in this non-randomized, longitudinal, prospective study. The study period extended from 3 months before the first EA treatment, to 3 months after that last EA treatment (10-14 treatments), in a total of 8-9 months. The conclusion of the study was that repeated EA treatments induce regular ovulations in more than one third of the women with PCOS. For the selected group, EA offers an alternative to pharmacological ovulation induction.
Fertility & Sterility, Vol. 81, Supplement 3, April 2004.
The study found a significant increase in IVF pregnancy rates with patients who received acupuncture (40% increase). This study did not have exclusion criteria. Results of the study found that poor responders that received acupuncture had the same pregnancy rates as normal prognosis patients and then went on to show that the acupuncture group had a higher live birth rate than the good prognosis patients.
Human Production, Vol.11, No.6, 1996.
The study found that local acupuncture with electro-stimulation could normalize the blood flow to the reproductive organs, which is particularly useful in older women, poor responders and women with thin endometrial lining. Treatments were given twice a week for 4 weeks leading up to an IVF cycle and tests revealed that uterine artery blood flow increased dramatically within this time and led to a thicker endometrial lining.
Medical Acupuncture, a Journal for Physicians by Physicians, Spring/Summer Vol. 12, No. 3, 2000.
A similar study showed that acupuncture with electro-stimulation increased the number of follicles significantly in women who had been labeled as poor responders. Acupuncture treatments were conducted on infertile women undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
Fertility & Sterility Vol.84, No. 1, July 2005.
The study showed that subfertile men who received acupuncture treatments twice a week for 5 weeks had improved sperm quality and motility. The median percentage and number of healthy sperm in the total ejaculate increased with significant improvements in acrosome and nuclear position and shapes. Progressively mobile sperm increased from a mean percentage of 44.5% to 50% to the improvement of axonemal pattern, axonemal shape and accessory fibers.