The effectiveness of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) can be significantly enhanced by complementing these fertility procedures with acupuncture, Chinese herbs and other aspects of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
In 2002, Dr. Wolfgang Paulus from the University of Ulm in Germany, led a study that reported that 42 percent of women who had acupuncture prior to and after an ART procedure became pregnant. Only 26 percent of the women who did not have acupuncture conceived.
Also in 2002, research out of Cornell University Medical School indicated that acupuncture reduces stress and anxiety which results in a higher chance of conception. When the nervous system is stimulated too much by stress hormones blood flow can be turned from the uterus.
Acupuncture was found to re-direct blood flow back to the uterus and the ovaries. This increases the chance of conception.
Acupuncture regulates the production of hormones through its effects on the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in the brain. Acupuncture needles can trigger the release of beta-endorphins. These are involved in production of hormones regulating the function of the ovaries, menstrual cycles, and healthy eggs.
Fertility drugs used in some Assisted Reproductive Technology procedures can have negative effects on the uterine lining causing it to thin, which makes the uterus a less than secure residence for the embryo. Because acupuncture improves the blood flow to the uterus, and therefore allows for a thicker uterine lining, the drawbacks of these fertility drugs can be counteracted. A pregnancy will have a better chance of running its full course.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine reports that acupuncture may increase the number of live births after ART procedures are implemented. There was also less incidence of ectopic pregnancy with the use of acupuncture.
Many fertility experts believe that acupuncture treatments can be beneficial during ART procedures, and there are no adverse side effects to watch out for. It is important that all team members, the team being the patient, the acupuncturist and the reproductive specialist, be in communication.
Chinese herbal medicine is frequently used with acupuncture treatments for infertility. The TCM practitioner may give dietary advice to the patient tailored to their individual needs.
They may also suggest altering lifestyle through meditation, visualization, yoga and gentle exercise. This can lower stress levels.
Traditional Chinese medicine treatment will often include daily Chinese herbal medicine, weekly acupuncture treatments. Ideally, treatment should begin three months before conception is desired, so that the body can be optimally ready for pregnancy.