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Acupuncture Improves Fertility

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Friday, August 24, 2007 | 0 comments

Acupuncture treatment can have a positive effect on those trying for a baby and can actually aid the conception process, new research reveals.

Fertility problems have increased dramatically over the past twenty years. At least 25% of couples in the UK planning a baby will have trouble conceiving, and more and more couples are turning to fertility treatments to help them start a family.

Now, a new study has found that fertility focused acupuncture treatment for women can help to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, balance hormone levels, regulate the menstrual cycle, reduce the chance of miscarriage and help improve the lining of the uterus and quality of eggs released. Additionally, conditions like polycystic ovaries and endometriosis have also been shown to improve with acupuncture.

Benefits to male fertility have been helped by acupuncture with positive effects on sperm count, morphology and mobility, the researchers claim.

It is known that stress has an adverse effect on the fertility hormones, and acupuncture can be used to help couples cope with the stress and anxieties they may experience during the process of trying to start a family. Acupuncture can help promote a calm, positive, relaxed frame of mind – and in turn, a more successful outcome for conception.

Acupuncture is an ancient Oriental therapy that aims to improve the overall wellbeing of the patient, rather than treating specific symptoms in isolation. Traditional Chinese philosophy states that our health is dependent on the body's energy - known as Qi - moving in a smooth and balanced way through a series of channels beneath the skin.

For any number of reasons, Qi may become unbalanced and lead to illness. By inserting fine needles into the channels of energy, an acupuncturist can stimulate the body's own healing response and help restore its natural balance. Acupuncture is one of the most popular forms of complementary treatments performed in the UK, with over 3,000 practitioners. While there are some reservations about the effectiveness of the treatment within the medical profession, many patients swear by its effectiveness in treating conditions such as lower back pain.

“Unexplained infertility is becoming endemic as more and more couples decide to wait to start a family until their 30s,” says Gerad Kite, acupuncturist and British Acupuncture Council member. “Acupuncture has now been recognised as a viable treatment to help this patient group increase their chances of conception.”

Previous studies have also reported the effectiveness of acupuncture for infertility. A 2004 study conducted by the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center in Colorado found that 51% of women who underwent both IVF and acupuncture treatment at the same time became pregnant, while only 36% of those who only underwent IVF did. The latter group also had higher rates of miscarriage and stillbirth (20%) compared to those women who had received acupuncture (8%).

A 2005 study conducted by Shanghai University in China found that acupuncture also helped treat male infertility. Of the men who participated, those who had acupuncture had an increased percentage of sperm in their semen; their sperm was also healthier than their counterparts who did not undergo acupuncture with infertility treatment.

A report published in the journal Fertility and Sterility in 2002 found the pregnancy rate in the group receiving acupuncture group was 42.5%, compared to the group which did not receive the therapy, where the rate was 26.3%.

Meanwhile, a new report by the BBC suggests that your chances of successful IVF treatment on the NHS are lowered because doctors do not always see patients at the best time.

The best moments in an IVF cycle are when eggs are collected and when the fertilised eggs are transferred back to the womb. But more than half of NHS clinics do not wait for the optimum moment when it’s most beneficial to collect the eggs – they do it whenever they can fit you in, simply because sheer volume of patients prevents more careful tailored treatment.



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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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