Today the rate of infertility is rising. Infertility and subfertility can affect women, men or even both. Since I have been in practice for four decades now, I have watched the trends. Initially, in the 1980s, it was pretty much women who had the fertility issues. Then in the ’90s, male infertility was also on the upswing. Since the turn of the century, it is not uncommon for it to be both.
As more and more medical journals are touting the benefits of acupuncture treatments for infertility and subfertility, we are seeing an increase in couples seeking acupuncture treatments. These treatments are sometimes stand-alone (meaning acupuncture, herbs and supplements, and nutrition only) or in conjunction with traditional medical interventions. The research by such institutes and journals listed below report that because of the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating infertility, medical doctors are increasingly recommending acupuncture to assist in conceiving and sustaining a pregnancy.
But how does acupuncture work? For both genders, acupuncture helps to restore the function of organs not doing their job. As James Dillard, M.D., assistant clinical professor, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and clinical adviser to Columbia’s Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine put it, “It can allow you to cross the line from infertile to fertile by helping your body function more efficiently, which in turn allows other, more modern reproductive treatments, like IVF, to also work more efficiently.” Raymond Chang, M.D., medical director of Meridian Medical states that it increases the odds of IVF working, but 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.”
“Acupuncture treatments have a calming, restorative effect that increases a sense of wellbeing and ultimately helps the body to accept the creation of life,” says acupuncturist Ifeoma Okoronkwo, M.D., professor of medicine, New York University School of Medicine. He also states that it brings the body’s energy and nutrients into deficient areas that encourages fertility.
“In the journal Fertility and Sterility in 2002, Chang, along with noted Cornell University reproductive endocrinologist Zev Rosenwaks, M.D., found a clear link between treatment and the brain hormones involved in conception.” Endorphins are increased, which not only are our “happy hormones,” but is also essential in regulating the menstrual cycle. It also works on other hormones (hypothalamus, thyroid, pituitary, ovaries, male gonads) through a neuroendocrine effect.
At the Oregon Health Sciences University, and published in the journal Medical Acupuncture in 2000, Sandra Emmons, M.D., states that acupuncture has a direct impact on the number of egg follicles available for fertilization. She theorizes that by increasing the blood supply to the ovaries, there is greater hormonal stimulation, and, according to Dr. Chang, the uterine lining is thicker and better able to absorb nutrients and hormones and hold onto an implanted embryo.
Acupuncture also improves sperm quality, quantity and morphology supporting male fertility according to Asian Journal of Andrology. Acupuncture is a great treatment option for getting pregnant.
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Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Carling is a “Health Detective.” She looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’Alene clinic. Visit Carling’s website at www.vitalhealthcda.com to learn more about Carling, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.