Acupuncture Could Play A Useful Role In The Treatment Of Female Infertility
Doctors at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at Cornell’s Weill Medical College have investigated the potential usefulness of acupuncture in enhancing female fertility.
Traditional Chinese medicine would attribute a disease state, such as infertility, to energy disturbances or imbalances, or organ deficiencies and excesses. Acupuncture is used in this system as a way to correct disruptions in the flow of Qi (energy) and bring the body back to good health. Doctors Chang, Chung, and Rosenwaks examined the current literature on acupuncture from the perspective of Western medicine seeking to determine its impact on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and the pelvic organs, and its potential for easing stress and anxiety.
Connections were found between acupuncture and the production of endorphins, which affect hormones playing a part in the menstrual cycle. In addition, studies were identified indicating that acupuncture can have an impact on ovulation.
Stress and anxiety, which too often accompany infertility, and possibly exacerbate the condition, can be relieved by acupuncture. Studies have been done, as well, on its use in relieving depression. As the impact of anxiolytic drugs and anti-depressants on infertility treatment is unknown, acupuncture presents an alternative for infertility patients.
Based on the preliminary clinical data showing acupuncture’s neuroendocrine effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and peripheral impact on improving uterine blood flow and endometrial thickness, the authors feel that clinical trials are warranted to investigate systematically the efficacy of acupuncture in treating various conditions related to female infertility. As the physiologic mechanisms underlying acupuncture are becoming better understood, the technique has been shown in trials to relieve pain, alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea, and to treat for substance abuse. If trials show that it has a positive effect on the physiology affecting fertility, it could become a useful adjunct to established treatments.