Infertility

What Causes Infertility?

  • Ovulation factors

  • Fallopian tube factors (partial tube blockage)

  • Immunological factors (natural killer cells, anti-sperm        antibodies)

  • Cervical factors (cervical mucus hostility factor, abnormal post coital tests)

  • Uterine factors (such as fibroids)

  • Premature ovarian failure (POF)

  • Elevated follicle-stimulating hormone levels (FSH level > 10 on day 3)

  • Elevated estradiol levels (E2 level > 50 on day 3)

  • Poor egg quality, poor ovarian reserve.

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Abnormal luteinizing hormone/follicle-   stimulating hormone (LH/FSH) ratio, high testosterone levels, irregular menses  Luteal phase defect (LPD)

  • Thyroid factors (hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, hyperthyroidism, abnormal thyroglobulin antibodies, abnormal thyroxine peroxidase antibodies)

  • Abnormal prolactin (PRL) levels

  • Frequent miscarriages

  • Frequent failure of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI)

  • Frequent chemical pregnancies

  • Blood clotting issues

  • Positive MTHFR mutations

  • Endometriosis

  • Thin and unresponsive endometrium

  • Amenorrhea

  • Irregular and anovulatory menstrual cycles

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

  • Stress

  • No explanations

How Acupuncture Helps:

  • Increases blood flow to the uterus and ovaries

  • Thickens the endometrial lining

  • Helps produce more follicles

  • Improves egg (ova) quality

  • Reduces high FSH and high E2 levels

  • Reduces high prolactin levels

  • Reduces the chance of miscarriage

  • Regulates and stabilizes hormone levels

  • Balances immune function

  • Regulates thyroid hormone levels

  • Relieves stress, improves energy, and controls weight

  • Improves the outcome of assisted reproductive technological (ART) procedures and increases the success rate of IVF/IUI

In China, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been successfully used to treat infertility for several thousand years with no side effects. They have been becoming more and more popular in the western world, this decade.

 

Reference Articles:

 

(1.) Paulus We etal. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertil Steril. 2002;77(4) 721-724.

 

(2.) Dieterles etal. Effect of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Fertil Steril. 2006; 85(5) 1347-1351

 

(3) Westergaard LG etal. Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women. Fertil Steril 2006; 85(5) 1341-1346

(4.) Stener-Victorin E. etal. A prospective randomized study of electro-acupuncture vs alfentanil as anaesthesia during oocyte aspiration in in-vitro fertilization. Hum Reprod. 1999;14(10) 2480-2484

 

Do I need acupuncture only before and after embryos transfers (ET)? 

 

According to the research protocols stated above, a 25-minute acupuncture treatment right before and after ET, increases the chance of a successful pregnancy. Acupuncture helps blood flow to the uterus during ET and releases stress to help the implantation of embryos. For the first IVF/IUI cycle, it is recommended that the patient starts 8 to10 acupuncture sessions before the embryo transfer. Failure of the previous IVF/IUI cycle could mean that there are some disorders in the body, so the body will need a longer time to be balanced. In this case, the patient might need an average of 20 to 30 sessions of acupuncture before starting the IVF/IUI cycle.

 

Results obtained in my 20 years of practice in acupuncture for OB/GYN/Fertility has shown me that in order to prepare and balance the hormones, it is advisable for patients who have complicated conditions to start acupuncture two or three months before IVF/IUF. Some of these disorders include:

  •          Failed previous IVF/IUI cycle

  •          High FSH levels

  •          Luteal phase defect

  •          Poor egg quality

  •          Thyroid problems

  •          Unexplained infertility issues

  •          Immunological factors

 

        Acupuncture should be done before IUI and ET: 

 

*Before (2 to 3 months prior to cycle) – to improve egg quality and regulate hormones, increase the number of follicles, thicken uterus lining, and improve overall health and well-being. For men, acupuncture is able to strengthen sperm as well as improve the quality and quantity of it.

*During – to increase the amount of blood in the uterus, improve the quality of the uterine environment by relaxing the uterine muscles, release stress, and give embryos a good environment.

 

  • *After (once pregnant) – to prevent miscarriages and minimize morning sickness in the first trimester.

 

When should I start acupuncture treatment for IVF/IUI support? 

  • If the patient is scheduled to start the assisted reproductive technologies (ART) of IVF/IUI, it is recommended that she commences acupuncture sessions as soon as possible.

 

How often should I have acupuncture treatments for my infertility? 

  • If an IVF/IUI cycle is scheduled within one month, treatment is recommended 2 times per week, or, 8 to 10 sessions before the transfer. If IVF/ IUI is to be done in 3 or 4 months, acupuncture can be done twice per week before ovulation, then once per week after ovulation. In this way, acupuncture will help improve the egg quality and thicken the uterine lining. Of course, benefits will increase with more treatment. Many of my patients have conceived naturally even before IVF/IUI.

What should I expect from the first visit? 

During the first visit, Acupuncturist Li will take a detailed medical history related to infertility, including the following:

 o    Review details of menstrual cycle and blood flow during menstruation

o    Review of basal body temperature (BBT) chart

o    Review of hysterosalpingography (HSG) result

o    Obtain Day 3 of blood work if it’s available

o    Understanding your purpose for having acupuncture (such as,         if it is for natural conception or IVF/IUI support)

o    Review of previous IVF/IUI result if it’s available

o    Review of partner’s sperm analysis if it’s possible

o    Examine patient’s whole system

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