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How Does Electroacupuncture For Fertility Work?

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Research suggests that electroacupuncture may help to boost fertility rates in couples undergoing IVF/ET. Learn how it may help and what's involved!

It has been substantiated in a number of studies that an adequate blood supply to the endometrium is essential for implantation and improved pregnancy outcomes in In-vitro fertilization/embryo transfer (IVF-ET).

The importance of both sub-endometrial and endometrial blood flows is directly correlated with a receptive endometrium, which consists of an endometrial thickness greater than 7mm and less than 14mm, a triple line pattern, and uninhibited blood flow.

Successful implantation depends on these minimal requirements, along with a quality embryo and open communication between the two.

What Causes The Endometrial Blood Flow To Become Inhibited?

Endometrial blood flow can be interrupted for many different reasons; here are a few common ones:

  • Poor Diet and Lifestyle
  • Stress
  • Uterine Fibroids
  • Uterine Fibroid Embolization Procedure

How Can Electroacupuncture Increase Pelvic Blood Flow?

In 1996, a Swedish study, involved 10 healthy women with infertility who had reported to a fertility center with a pulsatility index (PI) score of >3.0 in the uterine arteries.

They were down-regulated with a gonadotropin releasing hormone analogue (GnRHa) in order to prevent any inhibiting effects of endogenous hormones. A baseline was taken of the PI after establishing estradiol levels less than 0.1nm.

The patients were treated with electroacupuncture (EA) 8 times, twice a week for 4 weeks. Directly after the eighth EA session the PI was measured again, and then another time 10-14 days after the EA regimen was finished.

The results of the study showed that the PI taken after the eighth treatment, as well as, at the 10-14 day follow-up was significantly reduced compared to the mean baseline PI.

The researchers concluded that EA was able to reduce the impedance in the uterine arteries, most likely by inhibiting sympathetic activity.1

In 2009, a comparable Taiwanese study found similar results reflecting the ability of EA to manipulate the sympathetic nervous system, and therefore increasing blood flow to the endometrium.2

Note: The Swedish study did have some design deficits not limited to – prospective study, short duration, small sample size, and non-randomized.

References   [ + ]

1.Stener-Victorin, Elisabet, Urban Waldenstrom, Sven A. Andersson, and Matts Wikland. “Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture.” Human Reproduction 11, no. 6 (1996): 1314-1317.
2.Ho, Ming, Li-Chia Huang, Yin-Yi Chang, Huey-Yi Chen, Wei-Chun Chang, Tung-Chuan Yang, and Horng-Der Tsai. “Electroacupuncture reduces uterine artery blood flow impedance in infertile women.” Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 48, no. 2 (2009): 148-151.
Scott Stewart

Scott is a licensed & board certified (NCCAOM) acupuncture specialist who believes in treating the whole person (body, mind, and spirit). He achieves this through an integrative approach that combines Eastern & Functional medicine, both of which focus on exposing the root of disease. His ultimate goal for patients is to have the ability to make healthier choices, in order to support their improved quality of life.

Scott Stewart

Scott is a licensed & board certified (NCCAOM) acupuncture specialist who believes in treating the whole person (body, mind, and spirit). He achieves this through an integrative approach that combines Eastern & Functional medicine, both of which focus on exposing the root of disease. His ultimate goal for patients is to have the ability to make healthier choices, in order to support their improved quality of life.