For thousands of years the Chinese have used fertility treatments based on acupuncture and natural herbs. This tradition is rooted in the predominantly patriarchal culture, where the lack of an heir was considered to be catastrophic for a monarch or person of importance.
We asked Dr. Jennifer Rayward, Director of ProcreaTec, her opinion regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture as part of fertility treatments. “There have been numerous studies conducted to see whether acupuncture increases pregnancy rates in fertility treatments. As there is no fixed protocol, it is very difficult to compare studies using detailed and reliable results, to verify whether pregnancy rates are increased or not. My personal opinion is that when patients take a proactive role in their fertility treatments, looking after themselves, exercising, trying to decrease their stress levels, eating healthily and making time to see an acupuncturist, overall treatment usually goes better.”
Traditional Chinese medicine has also been practiced for many years in western society. One particular technique is acupuncture, which consists in inserting ultra-fine needles in different parts of the body that are on the body’s energy lines or meridians. From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, women or men suffering from fertility problems have an energy imbalance; applying needles stimulates recovery of the energy flow. From a Western point of view, doctors see acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. Stimulation appears to increase the activity of natural neurotransmitters for reducing pain, and increases blood flow.
“There are patients who only request treatment on the day of embryo transfer and others who begin much earlier,” states Dr. Rayward. “Miosotys Escalona, the acupuncturist at ProcreaTec, always says that before transferring embryos we have to get their new home ready, creating balance between physiological and emotional aspects. To do this, the patient can opt to undergo acupuncture which aims to prepare the body so that it is in an optimum balanced state. “
“As regards the effectiveness of acupuncture in improving pregnancy rates, we began a study of our patients. However, dates on which treatment was started differed so much from one case to the next that we were unable to draw conclusive results,” the doctor explains.
Should acupuncture be used in fertility treatments, yes or no? “There’s no doubt that if acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years, positive effects do exist. In coming years there is bound to be more scientific data available to calculate its effect with certainty within the framework of Western medicine,” concludes Dr. Rayward.