Acupuncture seems to be a useful tool for patients trying to increase their chances of becoming pregnant following assisted reproduction therapy. This additional therapy is cost effective with minimal side effects. Acupuncture is non-toxic and relatively affordable and effective so it becomes very attractive for this group of patients.
Studies have shown that Combining the IVF technique with acupuncture shows an increase in the pregnancy rates up to 42.5%. A German study done by Paulus et al compared pregnancy rates in a total of one hundred and sixty patients undergoing IVF. Acupuncture was done in eighty patients twenty-five minutes before and after embryo transfer. The clinical pregnancy rate for the acupuncture group was 42.5% as compared to the control group of 26.3%. Subsequent studies have shown that several sessions of acupuncture treatment may increase the success rate of IVF pregnancy(1)
Case reports of successful pregnancies when infertility patients attended few acupuncture sessions prior to IVF then on the day of the IVF procedure, the patient received manual acupuncture stimulation for twenty-five minutes before the embryo implantation and for 15 min after the IVF procedure. (2)
Research has proved that acupuncture has central and peripheral effect in preparing the uterus for successful implantation of the embryo. Acupuncture acts by causing opioid peptide release; it also stimulates the hypothalamus and pituitary to release hormones and neurotransmitters into the bloodstream, producing a broad spectrum of systemic effects.(3)
It is known that the opioid peptide affects the release of the Gonadotropin-releasing hormone which is released by the hypothalamic pituitary axis and plays a major role in the menstrual cycle by controlling the FSH and LH release. These hormones play a crucial role maturation and release of the ovum from the ovary which also produces estrogen and progesterone hormones for the preparation of the endometrium for embryo implantation, maintenance of pregnancy, regulating the hormone levels, increasing the blood flow to the uterus and increasing the thickness of the uterine wall. It also decreases stress and keeps the patient more relaxed, preventing the uterus from contracting. It strengthens the immune system and decreases the chances of miscarriages etc.(4)
Acupuncture is well known for reducing stress and anxiety possibly through its sympathoinhibitory properties. By avoiding the side effects of anxiolytic and anti depressant drugs acupuncture may provide an excellent alternative for stress reduction. As summarized by researchers, acupuncture can improve the success rate of IVF in many ways. Its acts by improving the function of the ovaries, Elizabet Stener-Victorin evaluated the use of electroacupuncture for ovulation induction in 24 patients with poly cystic ovarian syndrome given for three months. The basal body temperature was recorded three months before and three months after electroacupuncture. Main outcome was that electroacupuncture induced regular ovulation in more than a third of the women. (5-6 )
Subsequent studies have shown that several sessions of acupuncture treatment may increase the success rate of IVF pregnancy. (7 )
Acupuncture seems to be a useful tool for patients trying to increase their chances of becoming pregnant following assisted reproduction therapy. This additional therapy is cost effective with minimal side effects. Acupuncture is non toxic and relatively affordable and effective so it becomes very attractive for this group of patients.
1- Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertil Steril 2002; 77: 721- 724.
2- Successful IVF After Acupuncture Treatment by DR. ALEJANDRO ELORRIAGA CLARACO on MAY 31, 2006 http://mcmasteracupuncture.com/neurofunctional-acupuncture/case-report-successful-in-vitro-fertilization-following-acupuncture-treatment/
3- Pomeranz B, Berman B. Scientific basis of acupuncture. In: Stux G, Berman B, Pomeranz B, eds. Basics of Acupuncture. 5th Edition. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2003: 23-24.
4-Chang R, Chung PH, Rosenwaks Z. Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Fertil Steril 2002; 78: 1149-1153.
5-Stener-Victorin E. Reproductive Medicine: Research Projects in Acupuncture. Acupunct Med 1998; 16: 80-82.
6-Stener-Victorin E, Waldenström U, Tägnfors U, Lundeberg T, Lindstedt G, Janson PO. Effects of electro-acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2000; 79: 180-188.
7-Stener-Victorin E, Waldenström U, Tägnfors U, Lundeberg T, Lindstedt G, Janson PO. Effects of electro-acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2000; 79: 180-188.