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Boosting Your Chances with Acupuncture

Several studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of acupuncture. One such study, conducted in Germany by Dr. Wolfgang Paulus and published in ASRM's (American Society for Reproductive Medicine) "Fertility and Sterility" in April 2002, followed 80 women who underwent IVF and received acupuncture. Thirty-four of those women got pregnant (42.5 percent), while only 21 of those who received IVF and no acupuncture became pregnant (26.3 percent). In a similar study in the United States by Paul C. Magarelli, an infertility doctor at the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Dr. Diane Cridennda, a licensed acupuncturist, followed 114 women who underwent IVF and acupuncture. Fifty-one percent of the women who received acupuncture became pregnant, compared with just 36 percent of those who received only IVF. This study also showed that 20 percent of the IVF-only women miscarried, as compare to only 8 percent from the acupuncture group. The women who received acupuncture also had lower rates of ectopic pregnancies.

A study by Dr. Stener-Victorin et al. at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fertility Centre, Goteborg University, Sweden, showed that receiving acupuncture treatments before and after IVF embryo transfer may increase the chance that the embryo will be implanted successfully and reduce the chance of miscarriage. The effectiveness of IVF drugs and procedures may also improve if acupuncture is done about once a week in the month or two leading up to the start of IVF and then continued regularly during the cycle.

Acupuncture has also been successful in treating male infertility (due to low sperm counts, morphology problems (misshapen sperm) or sperm motility problems). Dr. Jian Pei, from Christian-Lauritzen-Institut in Ulm, Germany, and colleagues assessed the benefits of acupuncture therapy in 28 men with unexplained sperm abnormalities. They found acupuncture led to a significant increase in the percentage and number of sperm without structural defects.

If you are interested in trying acupuncture as part of your fertility treatment, see a traditional fertility specialist first to determine your underlying fertility issues. In addition, tell your fertility specialist that you are receiving acupuncture as part of your fertility treatment. And if you suspect you have conceived, stop acupuncture immediately. Some of the same points used to stimulate the uterus and increase fertility may also cause a miscarriage - your acupuncturist should not place needles in the abdominal area after insemination or transfer, or during pregnancy.

Different states require different levels of practitioner certification, so find out what level of training your state considers sufficient. The National Institutes of Health Website offers tips on finding a licensed acupuncturist. Many modern medical practices can refer you to a reputable acupuncturist in your area, or you can find one using The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture database of licensed acupuncturists around the country or on the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Website.

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