Acupuncture treatment for infertility shows great results both in man and women. Acupuncture can be considered as successful treatment in restoring fertility in the patients, by improving the sperm quality and ovaries function and balancing the endocrine system and hormones
Acupuncture regulates female reproductive hormones
Female reproductive hormones need to be carefully balanced for optimal fertility. One such hormone is Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). As its name suggests, FSH is necessary for ovarian follicles to grow and mature.
If FSH is high, the brain has to work extra hard to grow ovarian follicles and eggs. In natural conception cycles, high FSH could mean that a woman is transitioning into a perimenopausal stage. A very high FSH could mean that the ovaries have stopped working. In assisted fertility treatments, women who have raised FSH levels do not respond well to ovarian stimulation medication and produce fewer eggs. In extreme cases, they may not produce any eggs.
A recent major review of research concluded that acupuncture positively alters how reproductive hormones are secreted. This is likely to help women respond better to ovarian stimulation medication or natural stimulation by the brain.
Acupuncture improves blood flow and egg quality
Ovarian follicles and their eggs grow in response to hormones and nutrients delivered via the ovarian blood supply. Efficient blood flow is associated with higher quality eggs. If blood flow is compromised, the follicles and the eggs within them will be starved of nutrients and oxygen, and this could lead to fewer good quality eggs during assisted fertility treatments.
Several research studies have found that one of the benefits of acupuncture is that it increases blood flow to the uterus and ovaries by relaxing the walls of blood vessels.
Acupuncture improves sperm quality and quantity
Up to 40% of infertility cases are at least in part caused by poor male fertility. Some people working in fertility medicine believe that, so long as men have some sperm, IVF will overcome male factor infertility, particularly if a specialist fertilisation technique called Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is used. In the ICSI technique, a single sperm is injected into an egg. However, ICSI pregnancy rates are virtually the same as with conventional IVF treatment (33 vs. 32.4%).
One of the possible explanations why IVF/ICSI does not overcome all male fertility issues is because it cannot alter the quality of sperm; it only attempts to select the ‘best looking’ sperm and then inject it into the egg.
As the embryo is made of 50% mother’s and 50% father’s DNA, if the quality of the sperm is poor, it is likely that the resulting embryo quality will also be poor, and the embryo will not implant.
Preliminary research investigating the effects of acupuncture on male fertility has found that acupuncture can positively influence sperm parameters, including sperm concentration, motility, vitality and count. There is also some evidence that acupuncture treatment of male partners increases IVF fertilisation rates, thus potentially providing couples with more embryos.
Acupuncture may also possibly regulate testosterone levels based on the findings of some researchers. It is extremely important that a male partner has the optimal level of testosterone in their body in order to have adequate sperm production.
Acupuncture helps with embryo implantation
A growing body of evidence suggests that acupuncture increases embryo implantation rates. For example, in one recent study, it was found that acupuncture significantly improved clinical pregnancy rates in patients with a history of two or more failed IVF cycles.
Embryo implantation is dependent on many factors, including good blood supply to the uterus. Research shows that good blood supply to the uterus just before egg retrieval is associated with improved IVF conception rates. As previously mentioned, acupuncture can successfully increase the blood flow to the reproductive organs.
Implantation is also dependent on a normally functioning immune system. In some cases, problems with the immune system stop the embryo from implanting. A considerable body of human and animal research shows that acupuncture helps to regulate immune function.