Acupuncture Can Aid Fertility Treatment

| May 17, 2010 | 0 Comments | 231 views

It’s estimated that around one in six UK couples have problems conceiving, so IVF fertility treatment is very popular. Recent research suggests that this treatment could be made more effective by combining it with acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine, which works by inserting thin needles into specific points of the body to stop pain and control symptoms of illness.

Couples in China have used acupuncture for centuries to promote female fertility, and scientists have been studying its impact on IVF for a number of years. While the results of these studies have generally been mixed, the latest research indicates that acupuncture definitely helps couples to conceive via fertility treatment.

Undergoing IVF treatment is an expensive and stressful process, which has an average success rate of just 15%. Couples without children may be eligible for up to three cycles of IVF on the NHS, but there is often a long waiting list. The cost for one private cycle of IVF is a whopping £2,500, which many people find prohibitive.

The Dutch and US research, which looked at more than 1,300 women and was published in the British Medical Journal, found that every 10 cycles of IVF treatment with acupuncture would result in one extra pregnancy. The overall results indicated that women who had acupuncture were 65% more likely to undergo successful IVF treatment compared with those who underwent dummy versions of the acupuncture treatment, or those who had no extra treatment at all.

Rowan Pelling of the Guardian spoke of her positive own experience of acupuncture and fertility. She said: “After the first treatment, when I felt currents of energy move across my body, something very strange happened. I not only felt as if a portcullis somewhere inside had lifted, but I ovulated for a second time that month, just as my regular period was due, and I fell pregnant with my first son as a result.”

Acupuncture is thought to aid fertility and boost fertility treatments merely because it relieves stress. This may sound simplistic, but a fertility expert recently said that fertility problems could stem from busy couples that just don't have sex enough or stressed out women whose bodies are so frazzled that they’ve started to display menopausal symptoms. However, infertility can also stem from bigger problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome (POS), endometriosis, miscarriages and poor sperm count.

However, Professor Edzard Ernst, a leading alternative medicine expert from the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, said that the reliability of these acupuncture trials is dubious. He said: “On the face of it, these results sound fantastic. I would, however, be very cautious as much of the observed effect could be due to a placebo response. IVF may not seem to be "placebo-prone" but it probably is: if women expect it to be helpful they are more relaxed which, in turn, would affect pregnancy rates.”




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