Homerton University Hospital in London carried out a clinical trial during 2014-2016 that included 160 infertile couples undergoing IVF. Half had 4 sessions of acupuncture during their IVF cycle while the other half did not have any acupuncture. After 18 months, pregnancy rates were 46.2% for the acupuncture group and 21.7% for the untreated group.
Fifty-two overweight patients with a BMI of 25 or above, who were being treated for infertility, were referred to weight loss counseling. An endocrinologist monitored patients providing diet and exercise recommendations, metabolic screening and pharmacologic intervention when indicated.
- 32% of patients achieved meaningful weight loss (10% or more)
- Those who shed 10% or more body weight had dramatically improved fertility outcomes compared to patients who did not lose weight:
- 34% higher conception rates (88% vs. 54%)
- 34% more live births (71% vs. 37%)
It might be hard work to lose weight, but totally worth it, so get moving!
Fertility and Sterility Vol 101, Issue 5, pg 1400-1403, May 2014
Acupuncture is among the most reliable forms of alternative medicine. It has been around for almost 3,000 years and its benefits continue to please many people, especially pregnant women or those who are planning to get pregnant. If you want to find out why, we’ve listed a few interesting points that you might find beneficial:
Trying to Conceive
Unsuccessful attempts of trying to conceive can be an emotional roller coaster, which could put stress into your relationship. About one in six Australian couples, or approximately three million Australians, are infertile. If you’re among them, don’t lose hope yet. There are still ways to help you get pregnant.
Acupuncture helps increase fertility by improving blood flow to the ovaries and uterus. This thickens the lining of the uterus and can increase the possibility of embryo implantation. It also improves the function of the neuroendocrine system, which promotes the release of hormones that stimulate the adrenal glands, ovaries, and reproductive organs.
Preparing for Labour
Many pregnant women become anxious at the thought of childbirth because it is often a long and painful process that doesn’t always go to plan. It’s important however, to relax and feel as comfortable as possible before your due date. Research shows that women who fear childbirth tend to have longer and more complicated labours.
Acupuncture involves the use of needles at certain points on the body. It stimulates energy throughout your system to soften pelvic ligaments and increase blood flow for dilation. It can also reduce your sensitivity to pain by increasing the ‘feel good chemicals’ endorphins.
Coping with Pregnancy Blues
Being pregnant means carrying additional weight, making it difficult to move and maintain proper posture, so muscular aches and pains are common. It also causes morning sickness and increases the incidence of constipation, fatigue, heartburn, and preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension. Acupuncture can help ease such conditions by targeting specific points in the body, so your system is balanced.
Pregnancy is probably among the best things that can happen to a woman. Don’t let certain issues get in the way. Contact us for natural therapies like acupuncture that promote conception and worry-free pregnancy.
Not if you’re under 44yrs of age! A recent study looked at birth outcomes for women using fresh donor eggs from IVF cycles in relation to their age as recipients. This means eggs were grown using an IVF protocol in one woman, retrieved and donated for fertilization, before being transferred into another female recipient with the hope of pregnancy and a live birth. The good news is that results only started to decline if the recipient woman was 45yrs or older. Here is a summary of the outcomes:
- Nearly 28,000 fresh donor egg IVF cycles carried out between 2008-2010 were analysed
- Female recipients were separated into five different age brackets:
- 34yrs or younger
- 50yrs or older
- All women from the first 2 age brackets (39 years and under) had similar rates of implantation, clinical pregnancy and live births
- Recipient women over the age of 45 had significantly worse results for implantation, pregnancy and live births
- Women over 50 had the worst outcomes (implantation, pregnancy, live births) demonstrating progressive decline with age.
- All results were compared to a reference group of women aged between 40-44yrs
Fertility and Sterility, Vol 101, Issue 5, pg 1331-1336.e1, May 2014
Interesting new research has looked at the long-term relationship between breast cancer and the use of fertility drugs. The study focused on clomiphene citrate (clomid) used to stimulate ovulation and gonadotophins (FSH, LH, hCG) used to promote and control egg production in IVF procedures.
Follow up data was collected for an average of 30 years until 2010, for almost 10,000 infertile women diagnosed between 1966-1988. The average age of women was 30yrs at infertility evaluation and 53yrs at breast cancer diagnosis.
The good news is that when compared to women who did not use fertility drugs, there were no overall increased risks of breast cancer with the use of clomid or gonadotrophins, including combined/sequential use. This is most likely due to the breadth of parameters that need to be considered in a long-term follow up study. When analysed more closely however, trends were observed;
- The risk of developing breast cancer was significantly increased for women who were 35 years and older using clomid for the first time.
- Using clomid for 12 or more cycles showed the highest correlation to breast cancer (age unrelated), particularly invasive cancers.
- When a high cumulative dose (2251mg or more) was combined with a high number of cycles (12 or more) the risk was also elevated.
It is worth noting that this type of exposure far exceeds current practices.
A slight increase in risk was observed between gonadotrophin use and invasive breast cancers, but this became significant if women remained infertile and never had children. This finding most likely reflects the resistant nature of a subset of infertility inherently linked with higher cancer risks.
Acupuncture is known to illicit its effects by stimulating the nervous system. Little is understood though, about how the physical stimulation of an acupuncture needle turns into a neurological signal in the body.
A recent study (March 2014) uncovered more answers in this area and identified what makes acupuncture points so special. Layers of mouse tissue from a commonly used acupuncture point stomach 36 (ST36) were analysed and compared to tissue from a non-acupuncture point.
A high concentration of mechanosensitive proteins (TRVP1, TRVP4, ASIC3) were detected throughout tissue at ST36. TRVP1 was the main protein found to regulate pain relief. Mechanosensitive proteins in cells detect mechanical deformation of the cell membrane caused by changes in tension, thickness or curvature (ie. caused by an acupuncture needle).
Nerve signals from acupuncture are thought to occur via calcium wave propagation (CWP). For the first time this study identifies the link between CWP and the presence of TRVP1. Components of CWP were detected in tissue containing high levels of TRVP1.
This means in comparison to a non-therapeutic point, tissue at the acupuncture point ST36 contains a high level of unique mechanosensitive proteins that respond to changes caused by an acupuncture needle. This then initiates a neural signal via the calcium wave propagation pathway.
This summary may be a little technical but results from this study have helped us to understand, how a needle used in acupuncture can generate nerve signals that lead to hormone regulation, increased blood flow, pain relief and the sense of relaxation.
Whether you are in the two-week wait, about to have the first ultrasound scan or preparing for labour, every stage of foetal development can be seen here! The miracle of life, see what happens inside the uterus from conception to birth!
Thought you knew everything about fertilisation? Think again! See just how resilient sperm are to overcome the odds and reach an egg during fertilization. Covering the body’s physical, chemical and genetic processes that both help and hinder the amazing process that is responsible for the creation of us all.
This animation describes normal ovulation and then what occurs during PCOS, caused by an imbalance in reproductive hormones. Having PCOS also predisposes a woman to other health risks such as type II diabetes (non insulin dependent, controlled by weight), heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems and endometrial cancer.
Captured by chance during a routine hysterectomy procedure, see a real follicle protrude from the ovary during ovulation and releases an egg. From these photos it was discovered that ovulation occurs gradually over a 15min period rather than the original theory of the egg ‘bursting’ from the follicle.