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Laser Acupuncture for Fertility in Ottawa

Laser acupuncture for fertility ottawa naturopathic medicine

What is Laser Acupuncture?

Laser Acupuncture is an innovative complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatment that has garnered attention in the medical community with over 1000 research papers published on its application for various health conditions. As interest has grown in the use of light therapy, or photobiomodulation, the use of laser acupuncture has become a clear leader among various types of light therapies.

Laser therapies amplify light at a very specific wavelength and emit the light in an incredibly narrow beam. This process of light amplification differs from, for example, LED light therapies which have a much lower output power and are emitted in all directions (omnidirectional). For this reason, laser therapies can penetrate deeper to reach target tissues in the body versus LED therapies.

Why Medical Grade Lasers are Superior to Commercially Available Acupuncture Lasers

Power (measured in Watts), time (measured in seconds) and ultimately energy (measured in Joules). In order for laser acupuncture to have clinical efficacy it has to be able to achieve delivery of a specific dose of energy to the tissue. The dose of energy delivered is calculated by multiplying the power of the laser by the amount of time the laser is held over the treatment area (see equation below). In various research studies they found that the minimum dose needed for laser acupuncture to have clinical efficacy was at least 3 Joules.

Systematic reviews that evaluated for laser strength in relation to clinical outcomes from various studies found that studies that found no clinical benefit often used very low powered lasers that delivered nowhere close to the minimum effective energy dose. The studies that found clinical efficacy often used lasers that were much more powerful (over 100x higher powered in some cases) compared to the low powered lasers. Treatments provided at our clinic achieve an energy dose of 3 to 5 Joules per targeted point.

Energy Dose (Joules) = Power (Watts) x Time (Seconds)

What is the Optimal Wavelength for Fertility Laser Acupuncture Therapy?

Radiation absorption graph .jpg

One of the central pitfalls for most laser acupuncture therapies relates to the wavelength of the laser treatment provided. There are multiple medical grade lasers available for healthcare providers to choose from for providing acupuncture treatments and their wavelengths can range somewhere from 600 nm to 1000nm or higher. An essential consideration for choosing an appropriate wavelength for treatments is based on its absorption (or lack thereof) by the three main superficial barriers: water, hemoglobin and melanin. If the laser energy is efficiently absorbed in the surface then less of the laser treatment will reach the targeted tissue (i.e. nerves, tendons, ligaments, etc.) as a result. Many popular medical acupuncture lasers use a wavelength below 900 nm and as a result a portion of the energy is transferred to melanin (the skin pigment). Since many research papers did not share ethnicity of the Patient treatment group, it is unclear if the efficacy of laser treatments using wavelengths below 900nm would be reduced in Patients of colour with higher melanin content in the skin. Similarly, using wavelengths above 900nm would lead to a portion of the laser energy being transferred to water on the surface. 

Treatments provided at our clinic selectively utilize a wavelength of 905nm which has very low absorption by all of the three surface barriers mentioned above. 

Laser Acupuncture Safety

The laser acupuncture treatment provided uses a non-ionizing radiation, meaning it does not damage cellular DNA. Additionally, the laser acupuncture treatment used at our clinic is considered a "Cold" laser, meaning it does not cause thermal destruction of any tissue. Studies found that laser therapy may cause temporary paresthesia (changes in sensation on the skin) localized to the treatment area for upwards of 24 hours. In rare cases the laser treatment may cause temporary discolouration of the treatment area but is self-resolving. 

What are the Clinical Benefits of Low Level Cold Laser Acupuncture Therapy?

Laser acupuncture therapy has been researched in the treatment of various health issues. Ranging from osteoarthritis, migraines, acute low back pain, asthma, soft tissue injuries, post-menopausal disorders, overactive bladder, labour induction acupuncture, metabolic disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, mood disorders, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and various reproductive conditions.

IVF Fertility Treatments and Embryo Transfer: Laser acupuncture treatment was found to increase implantation rates by 6.9% during embryo transfer compared to placebo acupuncture, 8.8% compared to relaxation treatment and 4.8% when compared to traditional acupuncture. Clinical pregnancy rate was found to be increased by laser acupuncture therapy by 10.6% when compared to placebo acupuncture, 9.2% when compared to relaxation treatment, 3% when compared to traditional acupuncture. Larger studies are needed to confirm findings.  

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Acupuncture Laser therapy was found to reduce insulin resistance and improve hormone levels in Patients that received laser acupuncture versus Patients that received placebo laser acupuncture. One weekly treatment was provided over a period of 12 weeks.

Endometriosis: fertility laser acupuncture treatment for endometriosis has been studied to alleviate pelvic pain, reduce adhesions (scar tissue) and improve quality of life in Patients suffering from endometriosis when compared to the control group that received placebo laser acupuncture only.

Labour induction: Providing laser acupuncture in Patients past 40 weeks gestation (1 treatment per day for 3 consecutive days) was found to increase likelihood of normal vaginal delivery by 66.6% compared to placebo acupuncture laser treatments. Laser acupuncture treatment was found to have no harmful effects on the baby.

Postpartum Weight Reduction: Laser acupuncture treatments were provided for a total of 12 sessions for Patients seeking care for postpartum weight reduction. Treatment with cold laser acupuncture therapy was shown to significantly reduce body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage (BFP) compared to placebo laser acupuncture.

Sperm-factor infertility: 10 
laser acupuncture treatments over a 5 week period were shown to significantly increase sperm concentration (15 million/mL increase) and motility (16% increase) when compared to Patients that only received placebo laser acupuncture. 

Chronic or Acute Inflammation of Ovaries and Fallopian Tubes: Patients that presented with chronic or acute inflammatory conditions of the ovaries or fallopian tubes were observed to have a quicker reduction in pain and, on average, were hospitalized for 3 days less when compared to Patients that received standard care. Low level laser acupuncture was concluded to be beneficial in the treatment and management of inflammatory conditions of the adnexa.

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