Acupuncture for Infertility Increases Pregnancy Rates

Newborn

 

Recent studies have shown that acupuncture plus clomiphene is more effective than hormones plus Clomiphene in increasing pregnancy rates for interfertile women. The addition of acupuncture to the drug Clomiphene has proven to increase pregnancy rates, lower the resistance of blood velocity in uterine arteries and reduce the adverse effects of the drug. The study peformed at the Taian Maternal and Child Health Hospital concluded, “TCM [Traditional Chinese Medicine] can be applied alone or combined with Western medicine to up pregnancy rates and treat infertility. With the help of TCM (acupuncture), treatment for infertility can be more effective while producing much less adverse effects.”

Clomiphene is a non-steroidal fertility medicine. It causes the pituitary gland to release hormones needed to stimlate ovulation (the release of egg from the ovary). As with many medicines, this drug comes with a number of adverse effects and is contraindicated (not advised) for patients with endometriosis or fibroids. The drug can also increase the incidence of twins or triplets.

The study proved that acupuncture outperforms the addition of Estradiol Cypinate (estrogen hormone which increases the risk of blood clots, melasma and has other side effects) and Dydrogesterone, a steroidal progestin commonly used for threatened miscarriage and to treat infertility.

The trial used set acupuncture points with individual points allowed to account for individual diagnoses. Participants were 43 women aged between 21 – 39 years who had infertility for 1-8 years. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of three research groups. Each group received 50-100mg of Clomiphene once a day; group 2 also had the addition of 1mg Estradiol Cypionate and 10mg Dydrogesterone; group 3 received acupuncture and moxibustion in addition to Clomiphene. Treatments for all three groups started on day 5 of the menstrual cycle and continued for a duration of 5 consecutive days. The total treatment course was over 3 menstrual cycles.

The points used for treatment of the acupuncture group were:

  • CV4 (Guanyuan)
  • CV3 (Zhongji)
  • EX8 (Zigong)
  • ST29 (Guilai)
  • SP6 (Sanyinjiao)
  • ST36 (Zusanli)

Needle type, manipulation and retention time were all documented to allow for replicability of the treatments. Additional points for differential diagnosis were as follows:

  • Liver Qi Stagnation – BL18 (Ganshu)
  • Phlegm and Dampness – ST40 (Fenlong)
  • Blood Stasis – SP10 (Xuehai) and LV2 (Xingjian)

High intensity moxibustion for 30 minutes, or until the skin was flushed, was used from 10 days post-ovulation at points:

  • CV4 (Guanyuan)
  • CV3 (Zhongji)
  • EX8 (Zigong)
  • ST29 (Guilai)

Previous research also confirms the effectiveness of acupuncture plus moxibustion in the treatment of infertility. It was concluded that acupuncture regulates hormone levels by acting on the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and ovaries. A study by Yu et al. looked at electroacupuncture to increase gonadatropin releasing hormone (GnRH) and increasing ovarian sensitivity to gonadatropin. Acupuncture has also found to be effective in cases of anovulatory with reduced FSH (folicle stimulating hormone) and LH (lutinizing hormone) levels.

Another study by Xu et al. found acupuncture plus moxibustion increased ovulation rates using the following acupuncture treatment protocol:

abdo acupuncture

  • CV4 (Guanyuan)
  • CV3 (Zhongji)
  • EX8 (Zigong)
  • ST36 (Zusanli)
  • SP6 (Sanyinjiao)
  • LV3 (Taichong)

Plus additional points allowed for differential diagnosis: Liver Qi Stagnation – BL18; Phlegm and Dampness – ST40; Blood Stasis – SP10 and LV2 (Xingjian). Moxibustion was applied to Zigong, CV3, CV4 and ST36 with electroacupuncture to the needles. Treatments occurred over 3-7 consecutive days and results confirmed increased ovulation rates using B-Scan ultrasonography.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine studied acupuncture for infertile females undergoing IVF treatment. In a systematic review of 16 trials with a total of 4,021 participants receiving IVF, researchers concluded that acupuncture increases fertility rates of IVF patients with reduced fertility and increases pregancy rates.

This mountain of evidence reinforces the safety and efficacy of acupuncture for those wishing to conceive and should be a serious treatment option consideration for those undergoing IVF.

Ref: Acupuncture Outperforms Drugs For Infertility, Promotes Pregnancy

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