East West Acupuncture

East West Acupuncture

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At East West Acupuncture we have treated and assisted many couples throughout the infertility process. Through specialized acupuncture and herbal medicine programs, we work with couples seeking to enhance their natural fertility. We work closely with gynecologists and reproductive endocrinologists in the Central Virginia area integrating acupuncture with medical interventions such as Clomid, IUI and IVF cycles. We provide fertility acupuncture services for women undergoing ART at fertility clinics which includes acupuncture treatment before and after embryo transfers.

The essence of the fertility wellness program is to take a closer look at the body from a holistic perspective and correct any and all imbalances that may be contributing to fertility problems. Our mission is to help restore your fertility so that you can conceive naturally or increase your success rates if doing assisted therapies. Below is a list of the common types of fertility patients we work closely with:

Why Use Acupuncture for Infertility?

Acupuncture offers a natural approach to treating infertility by focusing on enhancing the quality of eggs, sperm, endometrial lining and cervical fluid. Sometimes this is enough for couples to conceive on their own and it is a very important step for couples who are about to undergo the expense and physical demands of IVF. Acupuncture can also support patients during In Vitro Fertilization, Artificial Insemination, and Hormonal Therapy cycles. The current research points to increased pregnancy rates when couples include acupuncture as part of their infertility care and we are working hard with the doctors and fertility clinics in our area to uncover the mechanisms for the fertility benefit of specialized acupuncture treatments.

How Does Acupuncture Affect Infertility?

Many studies have shown promising data that acupuncture has a balancing effect on the body's hormonal system and the menstrual cycle . Specifically the research has shown that different protocols of acupuncture treatment can:

  1. Balance reproductive hormones by increasing the body’s endorphin levels and lowering stress hormones such as cortisol
    One of the obvious ways acupuncture treats infertility is by reducing stress. When we are under intense, long-term stressful situations, the human body produces a hormone called cortisol. Because of the delicate balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary and reproductive organs/glands, stress may be able to prevent a woman from ovulating entirely. Stress can also cause spasms in the fallopian tubes and the uterus which can disrupt implantation. Acupuncture counters the effects of stress and cortisol by exerting a powerful calming effect on the entire body through the release of endorphins and other factors.

  2. Increase blood flow to the reproductive organs to promote follicle production and egg & endometrial health
    Special acupuncture point combinations and techniques have been shown to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs. Healthy blood that is supported by a healthy diet will provide the ovaries and uterus with more nourishment. The increase in healthy blood flow can increase follicle and egg health and also encourage the lining of the uterus to make a more hospitable environment for an embryo to implant and grow. Using specific acupuncture treatments to increase blood flow to the ovaries in addition to gonadotropin therapy is thought to be responsible for an increase in number of follicles and more importantly the quality of the eggs and subsequent embryos. This is especially true for women who have a poor prognosis either because of age or previously failed cycles.

  3. Strengthen the immune system to prevent immunological complications and decrease inflammation
    Strengthening the immune system can play a very important role in conception. The neurotransmitters that are released by the brain during acupuncture can raise the amount of white blood cells, T-cells and antibodies in the body thereby increasing the body’s level of immunity. This becomes important when there are immunological causes for fertility or failed implantation issues. An overactive immune system can also cause unwanted inflammation in the reproductive organs. This is particularly true for women with endometriosis. There are many benefits to using acupuncture as well as diet therapy and supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids which can effectively reduce an inflammatory immune response.

  4. Reduce side effects of IVF medications
    Acupuncture can also help reduce the side effects some women experience from the medications and the stress of the IVF experience. By promoting balance, women tend not to feel such dramatic emotional swings when doing acupuncture. It also addresses the feelings of discomfort in the abdomen, constipation, hot flashes and headaches women can get during the cycle.

  5. Improve sperm count, motility and morphology
    Two studies, one published in the medical journal, Archives of Andrology, in Sept.-Oct. 1997 and the other published in Andrologia in January 2000, documented research on infertile males suffering from low sperm quality. The study showed a significant improvement in total functional sperm, the percentage of sperm viability, and the total motile spermatozoa per ejaculate. These results were obtained by taking sperm samples from the men before and after one month of acupuncture treatment.

Scientific Research

In China, acupuncture has been used to treat infertility since ancient times. In one recent study, women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) in combination with acupuncture had a considerably higher rate of pregnancy than those who did not receive acupuncture (42.5% versus 26.3%). This was demonstrated in a highly publicized German study that came out in 2002 (Paulus 2002). Previous studies using pigs showed similar results (Lin et al 1988). One possible explanation for the mechanism involved is that the uterus typically undergoes several contractions while an embryo is being transferred, which significantly reduces the chances of successful implantation. Researchers chose acupuncture points that relax the uterus according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Also, because of its effects on the neuroendocrine system, acupuncture may help optimize endometrial receptivity.

Paulus W, et al. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertility and Sterility April 2002;77(4):721-4.

Lin J H, Liu S H, Chan W W, Wu L S, Pi W P 1988 Effects of electroacupuncture and gonadotropin-releasing hormone treatments on hormonal changes in anoestrous sows. American Journal of Chinese Medicine XVI: 117-126

Gerhard I, Postneek F. Auricular acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Gynecol Endocrinol 1992 Sep;6(3):171-81 CONCLUSION: “Based on our data, auricular acupuncture seems to offer a valuable alternative therapy for female infertility due to hormone disorders.”

Stener-Victorin E, Lundeberg T, Waldenstrom Effects of electro-acupuncture on corticotropin-releasing factor in rats with experimentally-induced polycystic ovaries. Neuropeptides 2001 Oct-Dec;35(5-6):227-31. CONCLUSIONS: “This finding indicates that repeated EA treatments change the neuroendocrinological state in the ovaries, which may play an important role in reproductive failure.”

Stener-Victorin E, Lundeberg T, Waldenstrom U, Bileviciute-Ljungar I, Janson PO. . Effects of electro-acupuncture on corticotropin-releasing factor in rats with experimentally-induced polycystic ovaries. Neuropeptides 2001 Oct-Dec;35(5-6):227-31 . RESULTS: “Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) concentrations in the ovaries were significantly reduced in the polycystic ovaries (PCO) group receiving electro-acupuncture (EA) compared with the PCO control group. Also, there was a decrease in comparison with the healthy control group but the decrease was not as significant. This finding indicates that repeated EA treatments change the neuroendocrinological state in the ovaries, which may play an important role in reproductive failure.”

Chen BY. Acupuncture normalizes dysfunction of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. Acupunct Electrother Res 1997;22(2):97-108. CONCLUSIONS: “Clinical observation showed that electro-acupuncture (EA) with the effective acupoints could cure some anovulatory patients in a highly effective rate and the experimental results suggested that EA might regulate the dysfunction of HPOA in several ways, which means EA could influence some gene expression of brain, thereby, normalizing secretion of some hormones, such as GnRH, LH and E2.”

Stener-Victorin E, Waldenstrom U, Tagnfors U, Lundeberg T, Lindstedt G, Janson PO. Effects of electro-acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2000 Mar;79(3):180-8. CONCLUSION: “Repeated electro-acupuncture (EA) treatments induce regular ovulations in more than one third of the women with polycystic ovary syndrome. The group of women with good effect had a less androgenic hormonal profile before treatment and a less pronounced metabolic disturbance compared with the group with no effect. For this selected group EA offers an alternative to pharmacological ovulation induction.”