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Enhancing Fertity with Oriental Medicine

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Acupuncture and ART: IVF, IUI, IVM, ICSI

An increasing number of women and men are currently seeking fertility enhancement with Assisted Reproductive Technology (A.R.T.) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), inter-uterine insemination (IUI), in vitro maturation (IVM), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). These sophisticated medical technologies have opened up new possibilities for thousands of couples facing infertility. These modern therapies may be significantly enhanced when combined with acupuncture and herbal medicines.

There are numerous published studies demonstrating the positive effects acupuncture can have on the reproductive system. When properly performed, acupuncture can significantly increase ART pregnancies. It has also been shown to increase implantation rates, decrease miscarriages, decrease ectopic pregnancies, and increase live births.

A study presented in "Highlights in Fertility and Sterility" (Vol. 77, No. 4, April 2002) indicated that pregnancy rates for women undergoing IVF increased from 26% to 42% with only 2 acupuncture treatments at the time of transfer (Acupuncture Before and After Embryo Transfer Results in Higher Pregnancy Rates).

The May, 2006, issue of the medical journal "Fertility and Sterility" , presents several new studies that confirm the efficacy of acupuncture as an aid to IVF and IUI.

Additionally there are a number of recent studies that support the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of male infertility factor (Research on Male Factor Infertility & Acupuncture).

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help throughout the IVF cycle:

  • Before (3 months prior to the cycle): In women, improve the egg quality and regulate hormones; In men, improve semen quality and quantity.
  • During: Increase the number of follicles and improve the quality of the uterine environment by relaxing uterine muscles and thickening the uterine lining.
  • At Egg Transfer: Improve the chances of conception from approximately 26% to 42%.
  • After (once pregnant): Prevent miscarriages and minimize symptoms common in the first trimester.

Regardless of the method of impregnation, or the imbalance/pathology involved (with the exception of a complete lack of eggs or tubal blockage), acupuncture and oriental herbal medicine can significantly improve the chances of conception. Whether in conjunction with Western medicine or by itself, Traditional Chinese Medicine can appreciably enhance fertility.

For TCM protocols used during ART, please see Treatment Options.