By: Dr. Jack Tobol
Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy are ancient Chinese methods used for the treatment and prevention of disease. These systems are as ancient and effective as any other medical techniques used in the world today. They have been practiced consistently for the past 5000 years in the Orient.
Seventy percent of one quarter of the world's population uses acupuncture and herbs as their main form of health care. The benefits of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in treatment for the infertile couple can be found in early Chinese medical literature dating back to the 11AD. For the 4.5 million couples experiencing infertility each year, acupuncture may be just what the doctor ordered. Acupuncture can increase fertility by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system, according to several studies and medical research.
One of the ways acupuncture increases fertility is by reducing stress, which is often a key factor in the fertility of both men and women. When people are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released in the brain. It alters the brain's neurochemical balance, thus changing hormone levels and disrupting the pituitary balance that is key to the reproductive cycle.
Because of the delicate balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary and reproductive glands, stress is capable of preventing a woman from ovulating entirely. Stress can also cause spasms in both the fallopian tubes and the uterus, which can interfere with movement and implantation of a fertilized egg. In men, stress can alter sperm counts, motility and cause impotence.
Acupuncture counters the effects of stress and cortisol by releasing endorphins in the brain, which exert a calming effect.
Acupuncture also increases fertility by strengthening the immune system which can play an important role in conception. Studies show that the endorphins released by acupuncture can raise the amount of white blood cells, T-cells and antibodies in the body, which increase the body's level of immunity. According to Chatelaine Magazine, 20-25 percent of miscarriages are due to immune system problems.
Acupuncture can also increase fertility by increasing blood flow in the body. This can provide a woman's reproductive organs with more nourishment and can increase the density of the uterine wall. For women who cannot become pregnant because of endometriosis, in which the uterine lining grows outside the uterus, acupuncture can increase blood flow to relax and quiet the endometrium- something Western doctors achieve through progestogen hormonal therapies.
Researchers at the Christian-Lauritzen-Institut in Ulm, Germany reported last year that acupuncture can increase the success rate of IVF. Of 160 women undergoing IVF, half were given acupuncture both before and after the procedure. The pregnancy rate for the 80 women who received acupuncture was 42.5 percent, while those who did not receive acupuncture had only a 23 percent success rate.
TCM sees the person as an integral Mind/Body organism, thereby does not treat just symptoms or diseases. TCM ventures to stimulate the body's natural healing potential by treating root causes rather than just symptoms. Many couples already know that conceiving a child can be hard enough without the added risks and discomfort of using hormones and IVF. Acupuncture allows the pregnancies to occur the safest, most comfortable way there is: naturally.