Acupuncture is an ancient practice that originated in China over 2000 years ago. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body, known as acupuncture points, to promote healing and balance in the body. Acupuncture has gained popularity in recent years as a complementary therapy for various health conditions, including infertility. Infertility is a common problem affecting millions of couples worldwide, and as many as 1 in 8 couples are struggling with fertility. Acupuncture has been used to optimize both male and female infertility. Here, we will discuss the efficacy of acupuncture for male and female fertility.
Acupuncture for Female Fertility
Acupuncture has been used to improve female fertility for centuries. It is believed to improve fertility by regulating the menstrual cycle, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, and reducing stress and anxiety.
Regulating the menstrual cycle: Acupuncture can help regulate the menstrual cycle by balancing the hormones that control ovulation. Studies have shown that acupuncture can increase the production of endorphins and enkephalins, which can help regulate the menstrual cycle by affecting the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
Increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs: Acupuncture can also increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, which can improve ovarian function and increase the thickness of the uterine lining. A thicker uterine lining can increase the chances of a fertilized egg implanting in the uterus.
Reducing stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on fertility by disrupting hormonal balance and causing irregular menstrual cycles. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety by increasing the production of endorphins and regulating the sympathetic nervous system. By reducing stress and anxiety, acupuncture can help improve fertility.
A systematic review of 22 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving 2358 women found that acupuncture improved the clinical pregnancy rate and live birth rate for women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) (1). Another review of 13 RCTs involving 1305 women found that acupuncture improved pregnancy rates for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (2). These findings suggest that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for female infertility.
Acupuncture for Male Fertility
Acupuncture has also been used to improve male fertility. It is believed to improve fertility by increasing sperm count, improving sperm motility and morphology, and reducing oxidative stress.
Increasing sperm count: Acupuncture can increase sperm count by improving blood flow to the testes and promoting the production of testosterone. Studies have shown that acupuncture can increase the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH), which are all involved in the production of sperm.
Improving sperm motility and morphology: Acupuncture can also improve sperm motility and morphology by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Oxidative stress and inflammation can damage sperm and reduce their motility and morphology.
Reducing oxidative stress: Acupuncture can reduce oxidative stress by increasing the production of antioxidants in the body. Studies have shown that acupuncture can increase the production of superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and catalase, which are all antioxidants that can protect sperm from oxidative stress.
A systematic review of 12 RCTs involving 2182 men found that acupuncture improved sperm motility and morphology and reduced the number of sperm with DNA fragmentation (3). Another review of 8 RCTs involving 587 men found that acupuncture improved sperm count and motility (4). These findings suggest that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for male infertility.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries to improve fertility, and recent studies have provided evidence to support its effectiveness for both male and female infertility. Acupuncture can regulate the menstrual cycle, increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, and reduce stress and anxiety in women, while improving sperm count, motility, morphology, and reducing oxidative stress in men. These effects can increase the chances of conception and improve pregnancy outcomes.
Acupuncture can be used as a stand-alone treatment for infertility or as a complementary therapy alongside conventional fertility treatments, such as IVF or ICSI. Some studies have suggested that acupuncture can enhance the success rates of IVF and ICSI, but more research is needed to confirm these findings.
It is important to note that acupuncture is a safe and non-invasive therapy when performed by a licensed and trained acupuncturist. Acupuncture has shown promising results in improving fertility for both men and women. Its ability to regulate hormones, increase blood flow, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sperm health makes it a valuable tool in the management of infertility.
Jo, J., Lee, Y. J., & Lee, H. (2017). The efficacy of acupuncture in improving pregnancy rates for women undergoing in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017. doi: 10.1155/2017/1580967
Lim, C. E., Wong, W. S., Lim, S. L., Low, W. Y., & Wong, F. W. (2018). Acupuncture for polycystic ovarian syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 11. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007689.pub4
Sheng, J., Liu, S., Wang, Y., Cui, R., Zhang, X., & Zhang, J. (2015). The effects of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males with infertility: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 23(3), 450-458. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2015.02.007
Qian, Y., Xia, X., Cui, Y., & Liu, J. (2017). The efficacy of acupuncture on improving the pregnancy rate of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Physiology, 8. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00984
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