So many patients come into the Domar Center stressed about infertility and “stressed” about “being stressed,” — and it is rare for me to see a fertility patient who won’t fess up to feeling some level of disruption to their peace of mind.
Research shows that acupuncture can address both aspects of that gloomy vicious circle of infertility and stress. It helps reduce anxiety and depression as well as common symptoms of a revved up nervous system: headaches, racing thoughts, irritability, muscle tension and sleep problems. Many of my patients opt to come for regular acupuncture treatments in preparation for an IVF or IUI cycle as well as during the stimulation phase of the cycle. They are relieved that they can do something that makes them feel better. IUI and IVF cycles are easier to get through when those stress symptoms are kept at bay.
A new study* supports that these visits before the IVF embryo transfer may have positive effects on their fertility. Instead of just using acupuncture before and after embryo transfer, treatments were performed twice a week using electro acupuncture for the 4 weeks leading up to egg retrieval. Electro acupuncture is the addition of a mild comfortable electric current, similar to that used in physical therapy, to the needles. The before and after embryo transfer treatments that have been so well studied were included in the treatment group.
34 women were in the acupuncture group and 33 women were in the control group. The acupuncture group had a higher pregnancy rate – 51% vs 37% in the control group – and lower miscarriage/ectopic rate – 1 ectopic in the acupuncture group vs 2 miscarriages and 3 ectopics in the control group. They also looked at the stress hormones cortisol and prolactin and found that the profile of these hormones in the acupuncture group more closely matched those of a normal fertile cycle when compared to the control group.
Bottom line: Less stress and more success!
*Magarelli et al, Fertility and Sterility, vol.92 no.6, December 2009
ABOUT KRISTIN WISGIRDA, MPH
Kristin, a senior staff acupuncturist at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, graduated in 1999 from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego with a Masters degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine. She is a Diplomate in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology with the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
She has extensive experience supporting women and men struggling with infertility. She maintains a private practice in Brockton, MA. Her expertise lies in the areas of fertility, gynecological problems, digestive disorders, stress management, and pain.