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TCM & IVF
In relation to IVF, in a study of 160 women, published in April 2002 in the reproductive journal, Fertility and Sterility, a group of German researchers found that by adding acupuncture to the standard IVF treatment protocols substantially increased pregnancy success.
“When you compare the pregnancy rates for egg producing drug such as Clomid to acupuncture alone, they are equal –a 50% chance of becoming pregnant in 3 months for general patients- to those not undergoing IVF”, says Dr Chang, the medical director of Meridian Medical(US) and a classically trained acupuncturist as well as a western trained medical doctor.
Increasing the odds of IVF is not the only way acupuncture can help. It can also work to stimulate egg production in women who can’t, or don’t want to, use fertility medications to help them get pregnant.
It enhances follicular development in order to improve egg quality and thickens the lining of the uterus so when fertilisation of an egg has occurred, the embryo can implant more easily.
Currently, in developed countries, about 17% of couples seek medical advice for infertility.
IVF has a live birth rate of between22% and 25% per treatment cycle depending on the woman’s age. This may take 5 attempts and costs approximately $4,000 per cycle.
Tubal surgery has between 5 and 50% success depending on the extent of the blockage, while drug therapy such as clomiphene citrate, when it achieves 3 consecutive ovulatory cycles, gives between 40 and 50% chance. The latter involves the woman giving herself daily injections and often causes side effects of nausea and fatigue.
However, clinical studies conducted in China indicate that about 70% of all cases of infertility (male and female) treated with Chinese medicine resulted in pregnancy or restored fertility, with success rates ranging from about 50% up to more than 90%. (Source: Dharmananda, S. Chinese Herbs and Fertility. From ITM Online, Article)
In systematic reviews of TCM it was shown that -compared to clomiphene -it significantly increased the pregnancy rate and reduced the miscarriage rate; and also increased the ovulation rate and improved the cervical mucus score.
TCM can be effective in treating infertility with anovulation (no signs of ovulation) and has no significant adverse effects. Ref: Tan, L., Tong S, Sze S, Xu M, Shi Y, Song,X, Zhang T. (2012)from ‘Chinese herbal medicine for infertility with anovulation: a systematic review’.