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Acupuncture Treatment for
Infertility and Assisted Reproduction

Alla Malko, PhD, L.Ac.
Clinical Acupuncture
Siegler Center for Integrative Medicine
SBHCS
Livingston,NJ

The Institute of Reproductive Medicine and Science of Saint Barnabas (www.sbivf.com) is considered to be the worlds best IVF Institute and it is increasingly using acupuncture to better the chances of success for their patients. Dr. Malko works closely with the Institute and has treated and helped countless patients

 

Acupuncture for Infertility

Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy are ancient Chinese methods used for the treatment and prevention of disease. These systems are as ancient and effective as any other medical techniques used in the world today. They have been practiced consistently for the past five thousand years in the Orient. Seventy percent of one quarter of the world's population uses acupuncture and herbs as their main form of health care. Although acupuncture has been used in England, France, and Germany for several hundred years, only in the past two decades have Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) been recognized in the United States. The benefits of Acupuncture and TCM in treatment for the infertile couple can be found in early Chinese medical literature dating back to the 11AD. Not only do these techniques assist in regulating the menstrual cycle and invigorating the sperm, but they also serve to enhance the function of the whole body. This "whole body" health approach, in turn, provides a key to unlock unlimited potential in healing. This is especially appropriate for the over 40 couple as it stimulates overall health to effect reproductive health and a reduction of biological age.

 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method of healing that uses needles and/or other stimuli (e.g. pressure, vacuum, electricity, heat) on the body anatomically defined locations or acupoints, to balance the flow of vital energy, Qi (pronounced “chee”). By restoring the balance of Qi in the body, acupuncture not only heals disease and pain, but also promotes the wellness of a healthy person.

According to scientific research, these so-called acupoints correspond to areas on the surface of the body that have been shown to have greater electrical conductance due to the presence of a higher density of gap junctions along cell borders. A greater metabolic rate, temperature, and calcium ion concentration are also observed at these points.

Acupuncture is a natural and holistic treatment that has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an effective therapy for many conditions and is practiced in many countries around the world today.

 

THE CONCEPT OF QI, YIN AND YANG,
MERIDIANS AND DISEASE IN TCM


The basis of Acupuncture that the body has an energy force running throughout it. This energy force is known as Qi (roughly pronounced Chee). The Qi consists of all essential life activities which include the spiritual, emotional, mental and the physical aspects of life. A person's health is influenced by the flow of Qi in the body, in combination with the universal forces of Yin and Yang . If the flow of Qi is insufficient, unbalanced or interrupted, Yin and Yang become unbalanced, and illness may occur. Qi travels throughout the body along "Meridians" or special pathways. The Meridians, (or Channels), are the same on both sides of the body (paired). There are fourteen main meridians running vertically up and down the surface of the body. Out of these, there are twelve organ Meridians in each half of the body. There are also two unpaired midline Meridians. There are 365 Classical acupuncture points located along 14 Meridians that cover entire body.

Yin and Yang is an important theory in the discussion of Acupuncture treatment, in relation to the Chinese theory of body systems. As stated earlier Qi is an energy force that runs throughout the body. In addition, Qi is also prevalent throughout nature as well. Qi is comprised of two parts, Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposite forces, that when balanced, work together. Any upset in the balance will result in natural calamities, in nature; and disease in humans. Yin is signified by female attributes, passive, dark, cold, moist, that which moves medially, and deficient of Yang. Yang is signified by male attributes, light, active, warm, dry, that which moves laterally, and deficient of Yin. Nothing is completely Yin or Yang. The most striking example of this is man himself. A man is the combination of his mother (Yin) and and his father (Yang). He contains qualities of both. Energy constantly flows up and down these pathways. When pathways become obstructed, deficient, excessive, or just unbalanced, Yin and Yang are said to be thrown out of balance. This causes illness. Acupuncture is said to restore the balance.

 

Some Advantages of Using Traditional Chinese Medicine

1. TCM sees the person as an integral Mind/body organism, thereby does not treat just symptoms/diseases. TCM ventures to stimulate the bodies natural healing potential by treating root causes rather than just symptoms.

2. TCM, used in the treatment of infertility, minimizes undesired side effects and accumulated toxicity from invasive procedures and drug therapies, known and unknown.

3. Traditional Chinese medicine may be used to strengthen and balance one's general health so that IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, ICSI, AHT and TET procedures are more effective. The TCM patient derives general health benefits and endocrine system balancing from specific acupuncture and herbal regimes. Pregnancy becomes easier to achieve and postpartum recuperation happens faster. Medical studies have been done in China to verify this type of whole body health enhancement.

4. The widespread use of TCM suggests that it is a complete traditional medical health care system and can be used with or without the integration of Western medical techniques. The integration of Western medicine, as we know it in America, began in the Orient less than a century ago. It is called INTEGRAL CHINESE MEDICINE (ITCM). Ancient medical techniques of acupuncture and herbs utilized with modern procedures, seem to work best.

 

Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a safe and virtually painless form of infertility treatment. It can be effectively used alone without invasive procedures or fertility drugs, thus avoiding potentially negative side effects.
Acupuncture is an effective treatment for infertility, even for women who had failed IVF/IVI attempts.
Acupuncture offers an economical solution at a fraction of the cost of IVF/IUI procedures.
Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with IVF/IUI and other Western medical treatments.
Acupuncture can help increase the success rate of IVF. A German study has shown that Acupuncture increases IVF success rate dramatically from 26% to 42%.
Acupuncture holistically improves the woman’s general health which promotes conception and pregnancy. This also decreases chances of miscarriage.
Acupuncture can help to alleviate stress. Stress may be related to many unknown infertility cases. High levels of stress hormones are known to suppress fertility and reduce the chances of conception.
Acupuncture can help balance hormone levels, regulate menstrual cycles, and alleviate menstrual pain. This helps the body to store essential energy and to be prepared for conception.

 

Scientific explanation how Acupuncture treatment
has potential fertility-boosting benefits:

Increased blood flow to the uterus and therefore uterine wall thickness, an important marker for fertility

Increased endorphin production, which, in turn, has been shown to effect the release of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a decapeptide involved in regulating reproduction

Lower stress hormones responsible for infertility

Impact on plasma levels of the fertility hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol (E2), and Progesterone (P)

Normalization of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, a key process in fertility
A positive effect for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal imbalance present in three percent of adolescents and adults.

Bibliography:

1. Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility.
Raymond Chang, M.D.[a,b] Pak H. Chung, M.D.[b] and Zev Rosenwaks, M.D.[c]. The Institute of East-West Medicine and the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York. FERTILITY AND STERILITY® VOL. 78, NO. 6, DECEMBER 2002 Copyright ©2002 American Society for Reproductive Medicine
2. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy.
Wolfgang E. Paulus, M.D.,[a] Mingmin Zhang, M.D.,[b] Erwin Strehler, M.D.,[a] Imam El-Danasouri, Ph.D.,[a] and Karl Sterzik, M.D.[a]. Christian-Lauritzen-Institut, Ulm, Germany.
3. Acupuncture &IVF. Lifang Liang, OMD, PhD, L.Ac. Blue Poppy Press, USA
4. Acupuncture in Gynaecology and Obstetrics. Royston Low, PhD, ND, Dr.Ac.Thorsons Publishing Group. England