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Chinese Medicine for Assisted Reproduction


There is a long historical record describing the treatment of fertility with acupuncture and Chinese medicine. It has been written about in Chinese texts for over one thousand years. We now know scientifically that acupuncture and Chinese herbs positively impact assisted reproduction.


In a recent review analysing 25 seperate trials, involving 4757 patients undergoing assisted reproduction, pregnancy rates in the groups receiving acupuncture were significantly higher than those in the control groups (43.6 % vs. 33.2%). The rates of live birth were also significantly higher in the acupuncture versus control groups (38% vs. 28.7%). This is why many fertility specialists are now recommending acupuncture to their patients.


How Acupuncture Can Make a Positive Impact


Acupuncture can help to regulate the hormones of reproduction. By doing so, acupuncture can impact the quality of the menstrual cycle, ovulation and help to maintain healthy pregnancy hormones, which can result in increased embryo implantation and lowered miscarriage rates.


Acupuncture increases blood flow to the reproductive organs. By enhancing blood flow, necessary oxygen and nutrients are circulating through the ovaries assisting with egg development. This is also sending vital nutrients to the endometrial lining, thickening it to increase its receptivity and help with the implantation of a fertilised embryo.


Acupuncture also increases the release of endogenous opioids and endorphins, helping to regulate the central nervous system. Care providers are working with a more comprehensive understanding of how stress negatively impacts hormone balance and fertility, with several studies noting women with elevated stress levels taking longer to get pregnant. We know that IVF can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Acupuncture helps to mitigate the adverse stress responses, making you feel more grounded and capable of coping with the process.


Acupuncture can improve sleep. Often stress and sleep go hand in hand, with quality sleep being difficult to find when your stress levels are high. Good sleep is incredibly important for women trying to conceive. Acupuncture has been shown to improve the ability to fall and stay asleep which is essential for hormone balance, healthy immune function and regulating blood sugars.


How to Know When to Start


When we work with fertility patients we, ideally, want to see them three months before they begin an IVF cycle. It takes three menstrual cycles for an egg to develop to a point where it can be fertilised, and research shows the cumulative benefit of regular acupuncture during this time. This is not always feasible and you may not have even found us until you were mid-cycle. That’s okay, acupuncture is still beneficial! If you have any questions about what this might look like for you, please reach out. I’d love to help you understand how I might help.



Sources:

Schroeder S, Burnis J, Denton A, Krasnow A, Raghu TS, Mathis K. Effectiveness of Acupuncture Therapy on Stress in a Large Urban College Population. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, 2017.

Xu M, Zhu M, Zheng C. Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Gynecol Obstet, 2023.



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