Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and is one of my favourite treatments to improve fertility outcomes in my patients. If you’ve been on birth control for many years and you’re worried that it will take a long time for your natural hormonal cycles to regulate, or even if you’ve already been trying to conceive for a while without success, acupuncture can help set the stage for optimal fertility. Acupuncture treatments are safe, effective, surprisingly relaxing, and can give you the best possible chance of getting pregnant.
Acupuncture helps with fertility by stimulating the nervous system via use of tiny (practically painless) needles, which positively changes the hormonal output from the brain to the ovaries and uterus. The mechanisms of action of this ancient medicine have been explored in thousands of high-quality studies and there is a robust and ever-growing evidence base for it’s use and efficacy in fertility and pregnancy.
A review of some important studies:
- A 2012 Cochrane meta-analysis (this is the gold standard of evidence-based medicine!) of 24 trials of 6,000 patients showed clinical pregnancy rates significantly higher in acupuncture treatment groups.
- Acupuncture improves microcirculation to the pelvis, increasing blood flow and energy production in the ovaries and uterus: one study showed that acupuncture improved Ovarian Blood Flow after 8 treatments. This improvement even persisted for 4 weeks after the treatments stopped.
- It’s a great treatment for infertility due to PCOS, a condition characterized by a lack of regular ovulation due to increased levels of male hormones. A 2011 study of women with PCOS demonstrated that acupuncture was able to reduce hyperandrogenism and regulate menstrual cycles after 16 weeks of treatment.
- Acupuncture & IVF/IUI: Acupuncture is associated with more live births when administered prior to IVF or IUI cycles. Researchers have found that acupuncture can increase neurotransmitter release, which in turn activates GnRH; an important releasing hormone which increases your levels of the hormones FSH & LH which are responsible for ovulation, menstrual regularity, and overall fertility.
- Acupuncture & advanced maternal age: Acupuncture is a helpful treatment in patents over age 35 because it has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and support mitochondrial health. The mitochondria are known as the ‘power house’ of your cells, since this is where your body produces energy in the form of ATP. The ovaries have one of the highest concentrations of mitochondria in your entire body since the process of ovulation is extremely energy-consuming. As we age our mitochondria becomes less effective, which is one of the main reasons why egg quality decreases in our thirties. Acupuncture also reduces free radical damage, modulates aging genes (through up-regulation of abnormally down-regulated genes and down-regulatation of abnormally up-regulated genes) and improves ovarian function in women over age 35.
Acupuncture can help make the experience of being pregnant easier, and more enjoyable. If you have more questions, or if you live in Oakville and would like to add acupuncture to your current fertility program you can book your first visit online here.
- J Altern Complement Med. Neural Regen Res. 2015 Jan;10(1):159-64
- J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. Acupuncture for treating polycystic ovary syndrome. 2016, Mar;17(3): 169-180
- Int J Women’s Health. Increase endogenous opioids, mitigating adverse stress response: 2014;6:313-325
This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Naturopathic doctor or primary care physician. Do not use the information in this document for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. Always speak with your Naturopathic doctor before taking any medication or nutritional or herbal or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read online.