Acupuncture and Fertility: an Evolving Field PDF Print E-mail

Acupuncture and IVF

By Dr. Barbara Briner

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 2.1 million married women across the United States are infertile and that 11.8% of the total population of women, ages 15-44 are unable to get pregnant (2002). Anyone who has been affected themselves, or has known someone trying to conceive, knows what an emotionally challenging and potentially devastating experience it can be for the women and couples involved.

By all reports the fertility industry in the United States is booming. But, it is not due to the great odds modern medical intervention offers these hopeful couples. In addition to being quite expensive (with IUI sessions costing between $300 and $600 a session, to IVF which can cost anywhere from $1500 to $8000 per cycle) the fertility interventions that currently exist do not come with very good odds. Many clinics only report success rates of between 14-35% during peak fertility years. The success rates drop dramatically as a woman approaches her late thirties or early forties, exactly the time many women are seeking fertility aid.

 

 

With this as the background, it is not surprising that alternative options are being sought to increase the odds of becoming pregnant, as well as lower costs. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture may have something to offer to those seeking to become pregnant. TCM has been treating infertility for thousands of years. In fact, many acupuncturists specialize in this field. They can work alone, or in conjunction with western medical fertility interventions. Patients and practitioners report that acupuncture is often quite successful at helping women conceive. In fact, a systematic review and meta-analysis of 1366 women undergoing in vitro fertilization conducted by Manheimer et al in 2008 indicates that acupuncture indeed does help. They concluded that current evidence suggests that acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilization. Considering this, perhaps in the near future acupuncturists will be a regular, if not featured, part of the western medical OBGYN clinic.

References:

Center for Disease Control (2002) Fertility, Family Planning, and Reproductive Health of U.S. Women: Data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, tables 67, 69, 97 retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/fertile.htm

Manheimer E, et al. (2008) Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008 Mar 8;336(7643):545-9. Epub 2008 Feb 7.

 
 



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