In approximately 40% of infertility cases the problem is a male factor (eg. sperm dysfunction), 40% is a female problem (eg. ovulation failure, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes) and the remaining 20% the cause is unknown (idiopathic). (1)
Good candidates for trying Acupuncture are people who have a functional, rather than a structural reason for infertility. (Eg: damaged fallopian tubes are structural). Men or women with functional infertility would be encouraged to try acupuncture.
Acupuncture can be used to encourage optimal sperm production and function in the male and adjusting endocrine function and balancing hormones in females. Some treatment principles would be to:
- Ensure all organs are nourished and meridians are balanced.
- Ensuring all aspects of health and wellbeing are addressed to make sure there is no external cause of a disharmony. This could include factors such as stress, diet and emotional issues.
- Identifying harmful environmental and occupational risk factors.
- Dietetics and herbs to correct any underlying nutritional or organ deficiencies.
Male Fertility: Studies confirm that environmental factors, such as pesticides, exogenous estrogens, and heavy metals may negatively impact male sperm count. A number of nutritional therapies have been shown to improve sperm counts and sperm motility, including carnitine, arginine, zinc, selenium, and vitamin B-12. Numerous antioxidants have also proven beneficial in treating male infertility, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, and coenzyme Q10. Acupuncture, as well as specific botanical medicines, have been documented in several studies as having a positive effect on sperm parameters. (2)
Female Fertility: Research has shown that acupuncture may adjust endocrine function of the generative and physiologic axis of women, thus stimulating ovulation. (3)
Research has also shown that auricular Acupuncture seems to offer a valuable therapy for female infertility due to hormone disorders. (4)
Treatment: There are many different treatment methods for infertility including Acupuncture needling, electronic stimulation of Acupuncture points, dietary therapy, herbal therapy, exercise therapy and of course general lifestyle advice. Your Acupuncturist will determine which method or combination of methods is best suited for your individual condition.
(1) 3 Access: Australia's National Infertility Network. (1996) Infertility: A Factsheet for Family and Friends
(2) Sinclair, S. (2000) Male infertility: nutritional and environmental considerations. Green Valley Health, Hagerstown, MD 21742, USA.
(3) Mo X, Li D, Pu Y, Xi G, Le X, Fu Z (1993) Clinical studies on the mechanism for acupuncture stimulation of ovulation. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine - June 13(2):115-9
(4) Gerhard I, Postneek F. (1992) Auricular acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Gynecology Endocrinology - Sep;6(3):171-81