Acupuncture for infertility is one of Dr. Dawn Potter’s favorite and most popular specialties. In fact, Dr. Dawn treats more fertility cases than any other condition.
Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine can be used alone or in combination with conventional assisted reproductive technologies for both male & female infertility.
If you have been trying to conceive a child for at least 1 year without success, most doctors would diagnose you with infertility. You are not alone; infertility currently affects about 6.7 million women in the U.S. under age 44, and 7.5% of men younger than age 45.
Many couples turn to the latest medical technologies to assist them, such as ovulation-promoting drugs, intra-uterine insemination (IUI), and in vitro fertilization (IVF). These are collectively known as Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). In vitro fertilization is an incredible technology that has led to many successful pregnancies.
However, IVF is not an easy path. It is a complex procedure, which is quite expensive, and most find it emotionally and physically difficult. In addition, the success rates are still relatively low. If you decide to invest your time and money into these procedures, you want to be sure you are giving yourself every advantage possible. Adding acupuncture for infertility to your ART can significantly increase your chances of success.
If ART is not for you, due to financial or medical reasons, or if you wish to try something more natural first, acupuncture for fertility is a great option.
Acupuncture for infertility, with ART:
A growing number of research studies in medical journals are demonstrating impressive results when acupuncture is combined with ART. A landmark study published in April 2002 and another in May 2006 in the Fertility & Sterility medical journal found that acupuncture for infertility more than doubled the pregnancy rates of IVF procedures. Because of this and other research, many infertility doctors (RE’s) refer their patients for acupuncture.
Acupuncture for infertility, without ART:
Acupuncture has been treating infertility for over 2000 years. Consider that throughout history in Chinese culture the inability to have a child (especially a son) was considered the worst kind of tragedy. When infertility afflicted a couple, there was a great deal of motivation for Chinese physicians to develop effective treatments.
Only recently has Western science begun to conduct studies on acupuncture by itself for infertility. One study compared women with endocrine dysfunctional infertility; one group was put on the common infertility drug Cl***d and the other was treated with acupuncture. The result was 45% pregnancy in the drug group and 65% in the acupuncture group.
Other studies show that acupuncture can stimulate ovulation, optimize blood flow to the uterus and normalize the hormone communication cycle in women. It also reduces stress hormones and increases endorphin levels, both of which positively affect hormone levels.
And there are numerous studies citing the benefit of acupuncture for male factor infertility. Acupuncture increases the number and ratio of normal-form sperm, significantly decreases the number of anti-sperm antibodies and increases the sperm motility.
Why does acupuncture work?
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine viewpoint, acupuncture is effective for infertility because it helps to relieve stress, correct imbalances and ensure proper communication in the body. It increases the circulation of energy, blood and nutrients to the necessary organs and glands so that they are healthier, work better and communicate with each other more effectively.
Dr. Dawn Potter's protocol:
In general, Dr. Dawn performs acupuncture treatments weekly for at least 4-6 weeks followed by twice monthly, combined with Chinese herbs, until pregnancy. The more treatments initially, the quicker the results. For those patients whose MD’s have requested that they not take herbs during their ART, she recommends twice weekly acupuncture treatments during their assisted cycle. These protocols are the same for both men and women.
For best chances of success with ART, acupuncture treatment should begin 3 months prior to any major procedure. If this schedule is not possible for you then aim to get treatments for as many weeks as possible before the procedure begins.
What to expect from acupuncture for infertility:
In her clinic, Dr. Dawn has found that acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can:
1. Regulate menstrual cycles: Often infertility is associated with irregular menstrual cycles or endometriosis. With acupuncture and herbs Dawn has seen women without regular periods start cycling regularly again, women with heavy bleeding normalize, and a significant or complete reduction of endometriosis symptoms.
2. Increase ovulation rates: Related to irregular menstruation, some infertility patients simply are not ovulating regularly. With only acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, Dawn has seen many patients begin ovulating consistently again, after years of negative ovulation test readings.
3. Increase the number and quality of eggs ovulated: After 2 months of acupuncture, one IVF patient produced 15 healthy eggs that were extracted; that is nearly double her first IVF cycle when she produced 8 healthy eggs.
Another patient, with a history of repeated miscarriage, was told by her infertility specialist that she could not use her own eggs to have a baby. It was his professional opinion that her eggs were too poor quality for her to get pregnant naturally and keep the child. She would have to do IVF with donor eggs. After 3 months of acupuncture and herbal medicine from Dr. Dawn, she became pregnant naturally, had her son, and later got pregnant naturally again, with her second healthy child.
4. Improve the chances of implantation: Acupuncture for infertility helps to increase circulation to the uterine wall, creating a more optimal lining condition. It also helps to relax the uterus, so that implantation is more likely. Often, in IVF, the embryo transfer process stimulates uterine contractions, which can make implantation difficult. Presumably this is why studies find that acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer increases success rates significantly.
5. Improve the chances of a healthy, full-term pregnancy: Continued weekly acupuncture treatment for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is highly recommended to encourage a healthy first trimester. It’s also useful for morning sickness, fatigue, headaches and mood swings.
The journey to overcome infertility can be a very difficult one. Be sure that you are giving yourself every advantage. Whether you choose to receive ART or not, you can feel confident that including acupuncture in your plan will improve your chances of having the healthy, happy baby you want.