Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Can acupuncture help IVF patients ?

There is a lot of debate about whether acupuncture is effective in boosting fertility. But let’s keep that discussion aside for another day. The IVF process can be a very stressful one and it becomes important to find alternative healing methods to alleviate symptoms such as anxiety and depression (which many IVF patients experience). In this respect, acupuncture is a simple and risk-free method of reducing stress and anxiety.

An Age Old Form of Medicine

In the IVF process a woman’s eggs are extracted, fertilized in a lab and then reimplanted into her uterus. This is a highly-invasive procedure that tends to result in stress in many women, in addition to the stresses that infertility itself causes. Many studies have shown that a large percentage of women who undergo fertility treatments have very high anxiety levels. At our clinic we look for ways and means to counsel our patients to help them become less stressed and anxious. 

In this effort, we also do suggest to many of them, that they should consider acupuncture to reduce their anxiety levels. So where does acupuncture come into the picture? It is a conventional form of Chinese medicine. In this treatment, very fine needles are inserted into specific spots on the body (meridians) based on the health issues being treated.

The Acupuncture Study

Brazilian researchers conducted a study in 2012, the results of which were published in the Acupuncture in Medicine journal. In the study, 43 different IVF patients underwent 4 weekly-treatments of either conventional Chinese acupuncture/"sham" acupuncture (somewhat like a placebo), in which the needles were inserted in the vicinity of, but not at the required meridians.

After 4 weeks, these researchers found that the women in the conventional treatment group showed significantly lower anxiety scores, measured on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, compared to women who were in the “sham” treatment group. Apart from this, a large percentage of women in the conventional treatment group also experienced an anxiety score drop of more than 30%.

The Conclusion

The conclusion of this study was that acupuncture shows significant benefits with reference to treating anxiety in women undergoing IVF.  A number of other studies have also shown that acupuncture does have anxiety reducing effects. Research suggests that it helps activate the "relaxation response," of the parasympathetic nervous system and boosts the production of endorphins and encephalins.

Does Acupuncture Boost Fertility ?

 A number of researchers also believe that acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus & promotes ovulation as well as production of fertility-regulating hormones. This could increase IVF conception rates, but this is still speculative.

The Positive Impact

Acupuncture has been used in China to treat a number of maladies and it has also been used to improve female reproductive health. There is no refuting the fact that complementing your IVF with appropriate acupuncture treatment (by a vetted specialist), can help you de-stress and help your body respond better to the IVF treatment you are undergoing. After all getting that anxiety and stress out of your system can only have a positive impact, isn’t it?

Want more information about infertility treatment?  Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/free-second-opinion so that I can guide you!

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