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Electroacupuncture for Fertility

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At Naturna, we regularly incorporate a variety of Chinese medical modalities to help our patients optimize fertility. Acupuncture is part of practically every session because it offers minimal risk along with amazing benefits, not the least of which is reduction of inflammation and stress hormones, which has a direct benefit for the reproductive system. We also use acupuncture to help regulate the HPA axis, improve pelvic blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, support hormonal function and reduce unwanted side effects from fertility medication. When it comes to ART, Assisted Reproductive Technology, treatments are specifically chosen to complement the timing of the cycle, working to balance body systems and enhance the intended objectives for each phase. 

 

Electroacupuncture is a way to boost the therapeutic effect of a treatment with the use of a small electrical current. Tiny electrodes are attached directly to specific needle insertions. This may sound a bit odd, but the sensation is quite mild, and is often described as a gentle buzzing or tingling at the needle location. This modality can provide excellent results for women who are undergoing IVF or other types of medicated cycles where the body is being stimulated to produce multiple mature gametes in a relatively short period of time. It’s also great for specific concerns regarding quality of eggs and endometrial lining. To a large extent, these effects are thought to incur because electroacupuncture increases the blood flow to reproductive organs by stimulating the sympathetic nerves in that area. But the benefits go beyond that. For instance, studies show that electroacupuncture specifically increases egg growth factors and other egg quality markers, as well as enhances egg survival factors. All of this bodes well for reproductive health and success!

 

ART cycles are not the only place electroacupuncture can benefit fertility. For example, it may be used to improve the quality and thickness of the endometrium. It can also be a useful way to promote ovulation in patients with certain anovulatory conditions such as PCOS. A hallmark characteristic of PCOS is that on a monthly basis the egg may not progress in its development. Recent studies demonstrate that electroacupuncture can significantly improve follicle growth in patients with PCOS, leading to ovulation of a mature egg. 

 

Acupuncture in its various applications can have amazing benefits. While every session is helpful, bear in mind that the effects are cumulative over time. Most studies are based on a twice per week treatment frequency over a period spanning a number of weeks. Improved IVF success rates have been shown with just a few treatments, but optimal results come from consistent therapy coupled with supportive nutrition and lifestyle habits. 


 

References:

Budihastuti, U. R., Melinawati, E., Sulistyowati, S., & Nurwati, I. (2019). Electroacupuncture Effect on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome to Improve Oocytes’ Growth. Medical acupuncture, 31(6), 379–383. https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2019.135

 

Qu, F., Li, R., Sun, W., Lin, G., Zhang, R., Yang, J., Tian., L., Xing, G., Jiang, H., Gong, F., Liang, X., Meng, Y., Liu, J., Zhou, L., Wang, S., Wu, Y., He, Y., Ye, J., Han, S., & Han, J. (2017). Use of electroacupuncture and transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation in reproductive medicine: a group consensus. Journal of Zhejiang University – Science B, 18(3), 186–193. https://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.B1600437

 

Ho, M., Huang, L. C., Chang, Y. Y., Chen, H. Y., Chang, W. C., Yang, T. C., & Tsai, H. D. (2009). Electroacupuncture reduces uterine artery blood flow impedance in infertile women. Taiwanese journal of obstetrics & gynecology, 48(2), 148–151. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1028-4559(09)60276-X

 

Kusuma, A. C., Oktari, N., Mihardja, H., Srilestari, A., Simadibrata, C. L., Hestiantoro, A., Wiweko, B., & Muna, N. (2019). Electroacupuncture Enhances Number of Mature Oocytes and Fertility Rates for In Vitro Fertilization. Medical acupuncture, 31(5), 289–297. https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2019.136

 

Li, Q. Q., Shi, G. X., Xu, Q., Wang, J., Liu, C. Z., & Wang, L. P. (2013). Acupuncture effect and central autonomic regulation. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 267959. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/26795

 

Lian, F., Chen, C., Xiang, S. (2015) [Improvement of the oocyte quality with electroacupuncture in infertility patients of kidney deficiency pattern]. Zhongguo Zhen jiu = Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion, 35(2), 109-113.

 

Stener-Victorin, E., Waldenström, U., Andersson, S. A., & Wikland, M. (1996). Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Human reproduction (Oxford, England), 11(6), 1314–1317. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.humrep.a019378

 

Zhang, Y., Fu, Y., Han, F., Kuang, H., Hu, M., & Wu, X. (2014). The effect of complementary and alternative medicine on subfertile women with in vitro fertilization. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2014, 419425. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/41942

Manhattan Acupuncture and New York City Fertility Center