Acupuncture May Help Women Conceive
A recent scientific review shows evidence that acupuncture might increase the odds of conceiving when done right before or right after embryos are placed in the womb.
Acupuncture, or placing very thin needles at specific points on the body, has already been used to control pain and stress. Eric Manheimer, a researcher at the University of Maryland?s School of Medicine, led the recent analysis. He claims that in fertility treatment, acupuncture is thought to increase blood flow to the uterus, relax the cervix and inhibit stress hormones that make it difficult for an embryo to implant.
The review is a collection of results from seven studies in 1,366 women in the US, Germany, Australia and Denmark who are undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization). IVF involves mixing sperm and eggs in a lab dish and creating embryos, which are then placed in the womb.
While some studies suggest that the odds of conceiving go up about 65% when women are given acupuncture, experts warn that this number is not certain. More conservative numbers suggest that while IVF results in pregnancy about 35% of the time, adding acupuncture might increase this to 45%.
Among experts, there are very mixed opinions on the topic. Dr. Ann Trevino, a 37-year old family physician, believes that acupuncture does help women to conceive. After three unsuccessful attempts with IVF alone, she tried acupuncture with IVF at a fertility clinic in San Antonio, Texas, and is now pregnant.
When treating fertility patients, acupuncturist Kirsten Karchmer says she places about a dozen needles in the ears, hands, feet, lower legs, abdomen and sometimes the lower back. It costs $500 a month for twice-weekly treatments and her patients usually receive treatment for three months.
As IVF costs around $12,000 per attempt, a treatment that increases its effectiveness, such as acupuncture, may save money, along with some of the struggle of those who are trying to conceive.