In my practice, I see a lot of couples either trying to conceive naturally or going through assisted reproduction treatments. Acupuncture can greatly improve chances of successful pregnancy, both on its own or alongside an IUI or IVF treatment. Read on for some of the benefits it provides for both male and female infertility.
It increases the blood flow to the reproductive organs
By improving the blood supply to the ovaries, acupuncture can result in better maturation of the eggs and a thicker uterine lining, which increases the chances of successful implantation. It also treats a variety of gynaecological disorders such as irregular menstruation, lack of ovulation and endometriosis, which can stand in the way of getting pregnant.
It reduces stress
One of the ways acupuncture infertility treatment increases fertility is by reducing stress, which is often a key factor in the fertility of both men and women. When people are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released in the brain. This alters the brain’s neurochemical balance, thus changing hormone levels and disrupting the pituitary balance that is key to the reproductive cycle.
Unfortunately, even if it wasn’t an initial factor, stress can significantly affect couples struggling to conceive for some time, or undergoing the intense process of an IVF cycle. Luckily, acupuncture can significantly reduce stress and anxiety.
It restores balance in the endocrine system
When conception is taking longer than expected, often the problem is on a hormonal level. Various aspects of the hormonal homeostasis can be disrupted, such as:
- insufficient progesterone – causing a short luteal phase and preventing the foetus from implanting itself in the uterus or cause miscarriage;
- high prolactin levels – the hormone that stimulates the production of breast milk after birth – can prevent ovulation;
- low or high thyroid stimulating hormones – both can prevent ovulation or cause miscarriage, and cause male infertility
Acupuncture has been found to influence certain parts of the brain which regulate the hormonal balance, which helps to restore homeostasis and normal menstrual cycles and ovulation.
It improves sperm parameters
Male infertility may be more common than you think – it is a problem in up to 40% of cases of failure to conceive. However, the fertility drugs that stimulate ovulation in women by regulating the hypothalamus and pituitary, the glands that control reproductive hormones, don’t perform nearly as well for men (success rates are about a third of those for women). It has been found that electroacupuncture in particular can significantly enhance the results of fertility supplements for men, improving hormonal balance and sperm count, motility and morphology.