Can acupuncture help natural fertility?
Infertility is related to deficiencies in or blockages to the circulation of vital substances and energies which once identified through TCM diagnosis can be rectified with acupuncture and/or herbs. Acupuncture, by unblocking and balancing energy flows, and herbal medicine by nourishing bodily substances, can often effectively treat the underlying causes of infertility (see gynaecology).
Can acupuncture help with IVF?
Research into the effect of acupuncture on increasing IVF success rates is more abundant than for any other alternative or complimentary therapy. Recent trials (2,3,4,5) have all produced increased success rates ranging from 35-115% for clinical pregnancy and 56-106% for ongoing pregnancy, consistent with results of my own clinical experience. Once an embryo is placed back in the womb it is on its own and may not implant for a number of reasons. Poor endometrial blood flow, which results in poor endometrial receptivity, is one of the primary factors determining successful implantation (6) and is associated with around one in three failed pregnancies (7). Acupuncture significantly improves endometrial blood flow and this may be one of the main mechanisms by which it improves IVF outcomes (3).
Can acupuncture help male fertility?
Male factor infertility is usually overcome by ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) where individual sperm are injected into eggs to fertilise them. Sperm are selected according to how healthy they look and not how healthy their DNA is. By-passing natural selection ICSI is associated with a higher risk of foetal abnormalities and the long term consequences on the health of children born from it unknown, although male offspring are more likely to be infertile too. Combining acupuncture and herbal medicine over a 8-12 week period can dramatically improve sperm quantity and quality, to within WHO parameters, making ICSI unnecessary and allowing either IVF to be performed or natural pregnancy a greater chance instead (12).