The Ancient Art of Infertility Treatment
When it comes to getting pregnant, old world techniques may be just what today's high-tech doctors will order.
In this study one group of 80 patients received two, 25-minute acupuncture treatments -- one prior to having fertilized embryos transferred into their uterus, and one directly afterwards. The second group of 80, who also underwent embryo transfer, received no acupuncture treatments.
The result: While women in both groups got pregnant, the rate was significantly higher in the acupuncture group -- 34 pregnancies, compared with 21 in the women who received IVF alone.
But increasing the odds of IVF is not the only way acupuncture can help. Chang says it can also work to stimulate egg production in women who can't -- or don't want to -- use fertility medications to help them get pregnant.
"When you compare the pregnancy rates for an egg producing drug such as Clomid to acupuncture alone, the rates are equal -- a 50% chance of pregnancy in three months for general patients -- to those not undergoing IVF," says Chang.
Unfortunately, however, Chang says that because acupuncture generally stimulates the growth and release of just one egg, it can't be substituted for fertility drugs used in IVF, since they work to produce the multiple eggs necessary to achieve success with this treatment
How Acupuncture Works
Although acupuncture is fast becoming an accepted fertility protocol, not everyone agrees on how -- or why -- it works.
According to the traditional Chinese medicine explanation, acupuncture stimulates and moves Qi (pronounced "Chee") a form of life energy that ancient wisdom says must flow through the body unhampered from head to toe, 24/7. When it doesn't, illness or malfunctions such as infertility arise.
"Acupuncture works to restore the flow of Qi -- your essence, your body energy -- so with regards to infertility, treatment has a calming, restorative effect that increases a sense of well- being and ultimately helps the body to accept the creation of life," says acupuncturist Ifeoma Okoronkwo, MD, a professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine.
By placing the needles at key energy meridians linked to the reproductive organs, Okoronkwo tells WebMD acupuncture increases, and more importantly, moves the flow of Qi from areas where it may be too abundant, to areas that are deficient, all in a direction that encourages fertility.