Men and women undergoing assisted reproductive therapies (ART) may find that acupuncture enhances the effort. One recent study conducted at Tel Aviv University in Israel found the rate of conception increased by 26 percent when acupuncture accompanied therapies used in Western medicine.
Acupuncture revolves around 14 meridians in the body. Practitioners of acupuncture believe that meridians are pathways in the body that connect the outer body (the skin) to the internal body (organs that include the blood supply, endocrine system, and reproductive organs). When tiny sterile needles are inserted along these meridians and stimulated to achieve the desired effect, the flow of qi (“chi”) is enhanced. Qi is considered the life force that creates harmony and balance on emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual levels. Qi is the energy of life.
When qi is in balance, the body experiences less stress. Major systems function smoothly. Pain is minimized and oxygen-rich blood flows more freely.
A body under stress signals a section of the brain - the hypothalamus - to release cortisol, a hormone that interferes with pituitary function. The pituitary gland controls the endocrine system, which regulates the reproductive health of men and women.
Infertility can be compounded by stress. Stress in women can induce spasms of the uterus and fallopian tubes strong enough to prevent the movement or implantation of a fertilized egg. In men, stress can diminish sperm production and motility and cause impotence.
Acupuncture stimulates the release of calming, pain-relieving endorphins and counterbalances the action of cortisol. Endorphins soothe stress in women and men. Endorphins help stimulate the production of progesterone, a female hormone that encourages a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus for healthy development. It minimizes the production of prolactin, which can prevent ovulation. In men, acupuncture encourages harmonious interactions between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and reproductive hormones without the side effects traditional Western medicines can cause.
The benefits of acupuncture are said to continue past conception. Acupuncture removes blockages in all 14 meridians. It increases the flow of blood throughout the body, including to the ovaries and uterus. This invigorated blood flow nourishes these organs and the developing fetus throughout pregnancy.
Roughly 4.5 million couples face infertility each year. About 40 percent of all cases of infertility are attributed to female factor infertility, another 40 percent is attributed to male issues, and 20 percent is said to be of unknown origin. Traditional treatment options are tailored to the individual area of concern on a case-by-case basis. Most Western solutions involve drug therapies that come with undesirable side effects. Acupuncture enhances the effect of these drugs without adding to or aggravating the side effects created by the ART drugs.
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Source: “How Does Acupuncture for Fertility Work? Increase Chance of Conception Without Side Effects.” Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. n.d. Web. Dec 23, 2013.