At West Village Acupuncture We Provide Acupuncture For Infertility In NY.

Review Of Current Scientific Research On Acupuncture And Infertility

There is increasing scientific support for the effectiveness of Acupuncture in improving the likelihood of a successful outcome when used in Conjunctive with IVF Therapies.

Recent studies have shown that the use of acupuncture in connection with IFV supportive therapies can result in pregnancy rates of 42.5{50cdfeddae49c27121ae92727b6a81e9d51d9b53978b3e5eb07002f692d3a298} as compared with 26.3{50cdfeddae49c27121ae92727b6a81e9d51d9b53978b3e5eb07002f692d3a298} in women who only received IFV treatments. Paulus W, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasou ri I, Sterzik K. Influence of Acupuncture on the Pregnacy Rate in Patients who Undergo Assisted Reproductive Therapy. Fertility and Sterility 2002;77:721-4. This study involved 160 participants ranging in age from 21-43 years of age with a mean age of 32.5. The specific causes of the infertility for all participants varied with 93 involving male infertility, 43 tubal disease, 4 polycystic ovaries, 18 unknown. Only patients with high quality eggs were included in the study.

For those participants who cases involved severe male subfertility intracytoplasmic sperm injection was used (N=59). In all other cases In Vitro Fertilization was the preferred method (N=101). The participants were assigned to the Acupuncture Group (N=80) and the Control Group (N=80). The control group received the IFV/ICSI treatment without any acupuncture and the Acupuncture group underwent the same IFV/ICSI protocols and in addition received acupuncture.

The acupuncture protocols involved two treatment sessions, of 25 minutes each. The first treatment occurred 25 minutes before the embryo transfers and immediately following the transfer. Immediately prior to the transfer, all participants underwent uterine ultrasound scans and pulse doppler curves of both uterine arteries were measured. The pulsatility index for each artery was calculated electronically from a smooth curve fitted to average waveform over three cardiac cycles.

The pre-transfer acupuncture protocol involved points which affect the flow of qi and blood to the uterus. The needles were inserted for 10 minutes at which time they were rotated to maintain DaQi (a needle sensation desired for maximum effect. In this case DaQi was defined as Soreness, numbness or distention around the point). After 25 minutes the needles were removed.

For the post transfer treatments, the same protocol was used, however, the different points were selected. The effect of these points were similar (effecting the flow of Qi and Blood to the uterus). In addition, two auricular points were selected.

The study found no statistical differences between the two groups in age of patient; number of previous IVF cycles; number of transferred embryos, endometrial thickness, plasma estradiol on the day of transfer or method of treatment. The acupuncture treatments were performed by the same examiner, with each being performed in the same manner. Similarly, all oocyte retrieval and transfers were performed by one examiner who did not know which group the participant was assigned to. Luteal phase support was provided to all participants of 200mg of progesterone 3 times daily. Progesterone administration was begun the day after the oocyte retrieval and continued until the serum B-hCG measurement 14-16 days after transfer. In cases of pregnancy the treatment was continued through the 8th week of gestation.

Theories which explain these outcomes are beginning to be tested using scientific methodology. In a recent paper, doctors at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University reviewed the existing scientific rationale and clinical data on this subject. They concluded that effects of acupuncture are mediated through a number of hormonal systems. These are principally endogenous peptides, in particular B-endorphin. (Chang R, Chung P, Rosenwaks Z. Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Female Infertility. Fertility and Sterility 2002;78:1149-53, citing Petti F, Bengrazi A, Liguori A, Reale G, Ippiliti F. Effects of Acupuncture on Immune Response Related Opiods-Like Peptides. J Tradit Chin Med 1998;18:55-63.)

In the Petti study, the investigators determined that during treatment and for a period of 24 hours thereafter acupuncture resulted in a significant increase in B-endorphins, an endogenous opio-peptide found in the central nervous system. This substance is derived as follows. Pro-opiomelanocortin is present in neuronal cells of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus, pituitary, medulla, and in peripheral tissues such as the ovaries.

This substance cleaves to form adrenocorticotropic hormone and B-lipoprotein. B-lipoprotein in turns cleaves to form neuropeptides including B-endorphin. B-endorphins are present in follicular fluids of normal and polycystic ovaries. (Aleem FA, Omar RA, Eltabbakh GH, Couthren AL. Ovarian Follicular Fluid Beta-Endorphin Levels in NOrmal and Polycystic Ovaries. AM J Obstet Gynecol 1987;156:1197-200.) The precise mechanism through which acupuncture effects this change in B-endorphins is not clear and further study on this subject is required. What is clear, however, is that acupuncture increases B-endorphin levels in the body.

The effect on the menstrual cycle is thought to occur by way of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. When opio-peptide levels fluctuate, this impacts gonadotropin (FSH and LH) production through GnRH secretion by the hypothalamus. GnRH, in turn signals the anterior pituitary gland to release LH and FSH. The release of these hormones in turn trigger a series of hormonal events resulting in the production and release of oocytes and development of the uterine lining. Because acupuncture effects the B-endorphin levels and this opio-peptide in turn has a significant affect on ovulation and fertility, it is likely that this, in part, explains the effectiveness of acupuncture in this realm. Not surprisingly, other studies have measured the increase in LH and FSH plasma levels in patients receiving acupuncture treatments.

While further study is clearly warranted to more fully understand the exact processes through which acupuncture effects the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, the outcome of current research clearly supports the use of acupuncture to supplement IFV treatments and significantly improve the outcome of a pregnancy.

For further information on this subject or to speak with an acupuncturist who provides acupuncture for infertility in NY, please feel free to contact us at +1 917-968-2854.