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Acupuncture Infertility Treatment Discovery - New Research

on 07 April 2013.

A new study finds acupuncture more effective than clomifene for the treatment of infertility. Clomifene, trademarked as Clomid and Omifin, is the most widely prescribed fertility drug on the market. It is an estrogen receptor modulator that induces ovulation. In this study, 65 women with infertility due to dysfunction of ovulation were divided into two randomly chosen groups. Group 1 received electroacupuncture and group 2 received 50mg per day of clomifene citrate tablets. After 6 months of treatment, the acupuncture group had a cure rate of 76.3% and the clomifene group had a 48.1% cure rate.

Another recent study demonstrated that acupuncture increases the frequency of ovulation for women with polycystic ovarian disease (PCOS). Published in the prestigious American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism, the research took over a year of investigation. Researchers measured significant changes in sex steroids, hormones, inhibin B and serum cortisol. Acupuncture normalized levels of these secretions and simultaneously increased ovulation frequency.

Fertility treatments are one thing but live birth rates are the ultimate goal. Just this year, new research demonstrated that acupuncture administered to women receiving IVF, in vitro fertilization, increases live birth rates. The discovery was that women had a higher rate of pregnancy and live births if acupuncture was administered on the day of the embryo transfer of donor eggs. A special acupuncture protocol was developed and carefully documented.

The researchers first administered acupuncture at acupoints DU20, CV6, ST29, SP8, P6 and LV2 with additional auricular acupuncture points prior to  IVF. The left ear was needled at the Shenmen and Brain auricular points. The right ear was needled at the Uterus and Endocrine auricular points. After the embryo transfer, acupuncture points LI4, SP10, ST36, SP6 and K3 were applied. Auricular acupuncture to the left ear was needled at Uterus and Endocrine and the right was needled at Shenmen and Brain. The research team consisted of investigators from University of Washington (Seattle, Washington), Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (Portland, Oregon) and Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences (Kirkland, Washington). They concluded that live birth rates significantly increase for women using donor egg IVF by using this acupuncture protocol.

Another recent investigation found that electroacupuncture improves pregnancy rates and live birth rates for women receiving IVF. Researchers isolated specific and measurable responses to electroacupuncture. They found that electroacupuncture increases blood levels of HLA-G (human leukocyte antigen) “and the level of HLA-G secreted in embryos for the patients in the process of IVF-ET.” Presence of the HLA-G protein is predictive of higher pregnancy and live birth rates. The team noted that “the pregnancy outcome and the pregnancy rate are improved” for all women when electroacupuncture is applied.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a major cause of infertility. According for the Centers for Disease Control, over 100,000 US women become infertile due to PID annually. PID is the inflammation of the female pelvic organs or connective tissues and is often due to a chlamydia or gonorrhea infection. There are many other causes of PID including reactions to IUDs, latex condom intolerance, pelvic surgery related infections and febrile diseases. Chlamydia is particularly dangerous because it may be asymptomatic. Screening is recommended and a simple course of antibiotics may be sufficient to clear the condition. However, antibiotic resistant strains of PID are often treated with multiple exploratory surgical procedures in an attempt to control pain and the spread of infection. The primary symptoms of PID are lower abdominal pain and leukorrhea.

One difficulty with PID, even after an infection has been eliminated, is that it may cause scarring of the fallopian tubes. Surgery and Chinese herbal medicine are two methods by which this condition may be resolved. If untreated, it may lead to ectopic pregnancies. The Healthcare Medicine Institute features an extensive series of educational courses on the detection and treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease for acupuncture CEU credit online. Take a look at the following video to view an excerpt from one of the institute’s live webinars.

 

 

References:
Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, 2012, 10(2), R246.3. Teng Hui, Liu Yu-lei, Wang Jun-ling, Xie Ying. Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shenzhen Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital, Guangdong, China.

Johansson, Julia, et al. "Acupuncture for ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled trial." American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism (2013).

Hullender Rubin, Lee E., Michael S. Opsahl, Lisa Taylor-Swanson, and Deborah L. Ackerman. "Acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization: A Retrospective Chart Review." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2013).

Exploration of clinical regularities in acupuncture-moxibustion treatment for infertility. Qin-feng Huang. JOURNAL OF ACUPUNCTURE AND TUINA SCIENCE
Volume 10, Number 2. (2012), 72-76, DOI: 10.1007/s11726-012-0574-0.

Fertil Steril. 2005 Jan;83(1):30-6. Secretion of human leukocyte antigen-G by human embryos is associated with a higher in vitro fertilization pregnancy rate. Yie SM, Balakier H, Motamedi G, Librach CL.