If you are having troubles getting pregnant, how does the idea of having a bunch of needles stuck into your body while you pose as a human pin cushion strike you? Well, many people believe that acupuncture can help increase the odds of them getting pregnant. And it appears as though some researchers have begun to agree with them.
At the current time, approximately 3 out of every 20 woman in the U.S. have problems conceiving and are participating in some sort of infertility treatment. Since the Chinese have used acupuncture for centuries to regulate the female reproductive system, it was inevitable that at some point acupuncture would become one of the solutions that researchers looked at in the U.S.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest healing disciplines in the world and has been practiced in China as well as other Easter countries for over five centuries. Although it's main emphasis is on prevention, it focuses on cures as well. The way it works is that the acupuncture expert inserts fine needles at specific pressure points throughout the body in an effort to balance and restore the body's life force or energy - also known as Chi.
Acupuncture has been the focus of many clinical studies in the U.S. and has proven to be able to reduce certain types of pain as well as treat a variety of chronic conditions. In the United States, acupuncture is rarely used as the main form of treatment. Instead, it is used as a complementary treatment.
Fertility clinical trials in the United States have primarily focused on the use of acupuncture with in vitro fertilization or IVF. This process involves removing a woman's egg from her uterus and fertilizing it in the laboratory. The egg is then placed back into the womb. The procedure is very expensive and success is not guaranteed. To improve the odds, researchers have studied and experimented with a number of different and outside the mainstream complementary techniques. Acupuncture is one such technique that has shown promise.
So far, in over seven clinical trials involving over 1300 women, acupuncture when used in conjunction with In vitro fertilization has increased pregnancy rates. The why is not precisely known but the theory is that it somehow affects ovulation and fertility through the elevation of beta-endorphin release which helps to improve the release of estrogen and progesterone levels from the ovary. Thus far, the studies show that the odds of a woman conceiving increase approximately 10% if she uses acupuncture as part of the IVF process.
It should be noted, however, that a more recent study led by fertility expert Dr. LaTash Craig at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, has cast a bit of doubt on previous studies. Her study consisted of 46 women and concluded that acupuncture does not increase the odds of conception and in fact may decrease them.
The discrepancies and contradictions in these studies may very well lie in exactly at what point in the IVF process the acupuncture was administered, the skill of the acupuncturist, or some as yet unknown factor. Needless to say, however, this only increases the uncertainty and anxiety of the woman with fertility problems trying to get pregnant.