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Acupuncture A Complementary Practice to Boost FertilityFertility treatments are not a new medical marvel. In fact, remedies have been used to fight infertility for thousands of years.  One such practice, acupuncture, has been the subject of an increasing amount of research. New studies are shedding light on its effectiveness.

When combined with modern medical techniques, such as IVF (in vitro fertilization), acupuncture can be the tipping point that leads to success. While acupuncture cannot address all causes of infertility, it can improve ovarian and follicular function, direct blood flow to the endometrial lining, reduce stress, and prime a woman’s body for conception, either naturally or through medical means.

Women are encouraged to start acupuncture sessions a few months before IVF, insemination or donor-egg transfer and continue sessions afterward. Fertility and Sterility published a study in April 2002 where acupuncture was used as a supplement to IVF. A group of 80 women received acupuncture prior to and following IVF. Another group of 80 underwent IVF alone. The subjects that received acupuncture experienced 34 pregnancies, while their counterparts who did not receive acupuncture totaled 21 pregnancies.

An ongoing study conducted by Dr. Paul C. Magarelli and Dr. Diane K. Cridennda on IVF and acupuncture followed 114 women who were good candidates for IVF. The women who received acupuncture treatments had fewer miscarriages, a greater number of pregnancies, and a birth rate 7% higher than those who relied on IVF alone. The duo’s previous research looked at women who did not respond successfully to IVF in the past. Those that received acupuncture had a pregnancy rate of 40% with 11% more infants born than those who did not.

Magarelli and Cridennda again studied women who received acupuncture before and after IVF. This time they focused  on women who were considered to have an average chance at pregnancy success. The rate of pregnancy increased by 24% with acupuncture.

In a WebMD interview, Raymond Chang, MD, medical director of Meridian Medical who is both a licensed acupuncturist and Western medical doctor, noted that pregnancy rates using drugs, such as Clomid, that increase egg production, and acupuncture alone are identical. In some cases, women become pregnant following acupuncture treatment without even resorting to standard fertility treatments. For most, a combination of the two offers the greatest chance for a successful pregnancy.

Women experiencing fertility problems will want to visit their obstetrician prior to seeing an acupuncturist. This will help them to decide on a course of action. It’s important to remember that the effectiveness of acupuncture as a primary or complementary fertility booster relies on the practitioner. Always choose a licensed, qualified acupuncturist with a specialty in reproductive issues.

A licensed acupuncturist has thousands of hours of training as opposed to a certified acupuncturist who has a few hundred hours under their belt. This can make all of the difference. An untrained acupuncturist can increase the chance of miscarriage by stimulating incorrect points on the body. To avoid potential risks, the right practitioner should be an expert in traditional Chinese medicine and have extensive knowledge of infertility treatments. Ensure that your acupuncturist is willing to maintain a relationship with your reproductive endocrinologist and obstetrician to ensure safety and allow Eastern and Western medicine to work in harmony.

When meeting your acupuncturist for the first time, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Inquire as to where they received their training and how much experience they have. If appropriate, acupuncture may also be combined with herbal treatments, massage, and nutritional counseling. Again, opt for a practitioner who is also certified in herbal medicine if this route is of interest to you. Be sure to tell your Western medical physician about any herbal treatments you are considering.

Infertility is stressful and treatment is costly and invasive. Acupuncture can bolster your chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy, while calming the mind, body, and spirit.

Have you had experience with acupuncture for fertility?

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