Fertility - Natural and Assisted IVF Conception

Infertility is considered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an abnormal functioning of the female or male reproductive system, and is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over the age of 35) or to carry a pregnancy to live birth. It is estimated that one in seven UK couples has difficulty conceiving (HFEA, 2006).

Identifiable causes of infertility include: ovulatory disorders in 27% of couples; tubal damage in 14% of couples; and low sperm count or low sperm quality in 19% of couples. However in 30% of couples the cause of infertility remains unexplained. Although it is known that female fertility declines with age, the effect of age on male fertility is less clear. The difficulties couples encounter when facing fertility problems can add to possible existing stress levels and there is evidence to suggest that this can further decrease chances of conception.

Until recently it was believed that infertility treatment was only possible through the courtesy of high-tech medicine. But as good as modern science is, many couples trying to get pregnant find themselves turning to an age-old treatment for help – acupuncture.

Why Acupuncture?

Many couples choose acupuncture because they either want to avoid assisted conception, or because of the beneficial support it can offer during the IVF cycle. Some couples even feel the need to explore this avenue because everything else they have tried has failed.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine treatment that relies on the painless but strategic placement of fine needles into a "grid-like" network of energy channels that spans the body, from head to toe. The needles are used to stimulate certain key "energy points" believed to regulate mental, emotional, and physical balance. Research has shown that it can allow couples to cross the line from infertile to fertile by helping the body function more efficiently, which in turn allows other, more modern reproductive treatments, like IVF, to also work more effectively.

In a study of 160 women, published in April 2002 in the reproductive journal Fertility and Sterility, a group of German researchers found that incorporating acupuncture into traditional IVF treatment protocols substantially increased pregnancy success.

However increasing the odds of IVF is not the only way acupuncture can help. Research has shown that it can also work to stimulate egg production in women who can't or don't want to use fertility medications to help them get pregnant, helps to regulate menstrual irregularities and can help with abnormal sperm parameters.

For more information see Article: Struggling to conceive? Acupuncture could work wonders for your fertility

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