Current medical research supports that which has been widely accepted in the East for centuries: Acupuncture effectively restores balance among the body's systems, promoting health and improving fertility. According to several studies, the subtle biochemical changes caused by acupuncture include stimulation of the circulatory system and balancing of the sympathetic nervous system.
Acupuncture has been shown to affect the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis, which controls ovulation and provides stress relief through hormonal manipulation and the release of endorphins.Chen B.. Acupuncture Normalizes Dysfunction of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis. Acupunct Electrother Res 1997;22:97- 108.
Studies have shown that adequate endometrial thickness and uterine artery blood flow are essential to a successful embryo implantation in in-vitro fertilization.Noyes, N.,Liu, H.Sultan, K. Endometrial Thickness Appears to be a Significant factor in embryo implantation in in-vitro fertilization. Hum Reprod 1995;10:919-22
Following fertilization of the egg, implantation must occur in the lining of the uterus known as the endometrium. In some cases of infertility, however, the uterus may not create an optimal environment for implantation. One of these causes can be attributed to decreased blood flow into the uterus which affects endometrial receptivity. Swedish researchers have looked at the role acupuncture plays in the treatment of infertility and in particular its effect on uterine blood flow. Using specific points which correspond to the innervation of the uterus, researchers measured the amount of blood flow in women undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. The results showed that there was a statistically significant increase in blood flow into the uterus with the acupuncture treatment. This blood flow then increases the chance for oocyte implantation.Stener-Victorin E, Waldenstrom U, Andersson SA, Wikland M. Reduction of Blood Flow Impedance in the Uterine Arteries of Infertile Women with Electro-Acupuncture. Hum Reproduction 11, 1314-1317
Researchers in Germany have looked at acupuncture to determine its efficacy with the use of traditional TCM points combined with assisted reproductive techniques with embryo transfer (IVF). The acupoints chosen were used to relax the uterus. The main purpose of the study was to evaluate whether acupuncture accompanying embryo transfer increases clinical pregnancy rates. The results showed that the pregnancy rate for the acupuncture group was considerably higher than the control (42.5% acupuncture group versus 26.3% control group).Paulus, W., Zhang, M., Strehler, E. Influence of Acupuncture on the Pregnancy Rate in Patients who Undergo Assisted Reproduction Therapy. Fertil Steril 2002;77:4;721-24
Increased sympathetic nervous system activity can cause detrimental effects to the reproductive system such as decreased blood flow to the organs. A Scandinavian study, showed however, that acupuncture can cause a central sympathoinhibitory effect that contributes to increased uterine artery blood flow and in turn increased endometrial thickness which enhances implantation.Stener-Victorin E, Waldenstrom U, Andersson SA, Wikland M. Reduction of Blood Flow Impedance in the Uterine Arteries of Infertile Women with Electro-Acupuncture. Hum Reproduction 11, 1314-1317
Studies suggest that one of the key reasons for acupuncture's effectiveness is the manipulation of endogenous opioid peptides in the central nervous system. Of the peptides being secreted during and after acupuncture treatment, B-endorphins play a crucial part when it comes to infertility. This is because B-endorphins influence the gonadotropin, which in turn has an impact on the Hypothalamus–Pituitary–Ovarian Axis. Irregularities within this axis are often responsible for dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, and other signs of anovulation. The mechanism behind the success of acupuncture is believed to be the following: if the signals to the hypothalamus are changeable via release of endorphins, then acupuncture can manipulate and regulate the menstrual cycle and in turn improve the changes of conception. The elevated levels of B-endorphins also have a direct impact on the ovaries because the protein which is the precursor to B-endorphin is found in ovarian tissue. Direct stimulation therefore, increases production of the peptide in both the brain and the reproductive organs. Because acupuncture treatment impacts on B-endorphins, which in turn affects GnRH secretion and the menstrual cycle, it is logical to hypothesize that acupuncture may influence ovulation and fertility.Chang, R. Chung, P. Rosenwalks, Z. Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Female Infertility. Fertil Steril 2002 Dec;78(6):1149-53