Giving IVF An Extra Edge
About 12% of American couples suffer from infertility. Infertility was once an untreatable condition. However, with in vitro fertilization (IVF), thousands of infertile couples can start or grow families. IVF is the process of extracting eggs and sperm to create embryos out of the body. The mature embryo is then implanted in the uterus. On average, IVF has an up to 50% success rate per cycle. To increase these odds, some doctors recommend acupuncture. This Eastern treatment may be a gamechanger if used effectively.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical technique that’s been around for centuries to manage various health conditions. An acupuncturist inserts tiny, thin needles into specific body points at multiple depths. The goal is to stimulate blood flow to the specific areas while balancing energy. Acupuncture usually happens in a calming space, similar to a spa, and targets vital energy points. Most practitioners use acupuncture to manage pain. However, there has been evidence that the treatment can work for other health conditions like reproduction.
Releasing the stress of IVF
When undergoing fertility treatments, many couples experience stress and anxiety. The increase of cortisol can impact the ability of women to carry a pregnancy to term. One of the most significant benefits of acupuncture is reducing stress. When acupuncture needles go into the skin, the body releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and can counter cortisol levels. As a result, IVF patients feel more relaxed and in control. Studies show that reducing stress can improve the success rates of pregnancy.
Improving blood flow
Acupuncture has been praised for managing blood circulation and blood pressure. A healthy blood flow is critical for pregnancy and sperm production. The stress of IVF can lead to higher blood pressure but lower blood flow to essential organs like the uterus. Acupuncture needles stimulate nitric oxide, which is crucial for blood flow. Increased blood flow helps with fertility medication and can help ensure a thick uterine lining for the fetus.
Is acupuncture a friend or foe?
There is some evidence that acupuncture can help with the IVF process. Women who have acupuncture sessions right before embryo transfers saw improved success rates. There was not only a therapeutic effect for patients but improved birth rates. Some fertility clinics will suggest acupuncture as part of the overall treatment process. Of course, with any procedure, there are risks. Patients must ensure a qualified practitioner performs acupuncture. Even with a professional, there is the risk of bruising and bleeding at the injection sites.
The tiny needles that could
Scientists have been unable to prove that acupuncture does or does not help treat infertility. However, both clinical studies and anecdotal reports show benefits to the treatment. That said, patients looking to improve the chances of IVF success should consider acupuncture. To minimize risk and maximize effectiveness, use a qualified, experienced practitioner. This is by no means a cure-all for fertility problems. However, the treatment can set a more balanced body and mind for IVF.