Acupuncture has been well established to help support fertility and hormone balance in the last 10 years or so. However, its main focus right now is in helping support implantation during an IVF, ICSI, or IUI procedure, or simply supporting menstrual regularity and hormone balance.
Women who have decided to pursue fertility treatments after the age of 35 or Women who genetically have lower amounts of eggs are affected by Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR). The remaining amount of eggs in this population has significantly decreased, and in addition to having a lower amount of eggs, the quality of those eggs can decline as well. This is because the hormone FSH from the brain increases significantly, and accelerates the follicular maturation process, which can increase the room for error. A decline in another hormone, AMH, also contributes to the acceleration of the follicular development, and therefore increases the chances of having declining egg quality.
One of the more well-known hormones, Estrogen, will start to decline as well. This can contribute to vaginal dryness, decreased uterine lining thickness (which on its own can contribute to lower success rates as well), and decreased cervical mucus production.
A group of researchers investigated if the use of Acupuncture could support these patients in trying to reverse or slow down the hormone changes associated with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR).
They treated a group of with DOI for 3 months, with acupuncture treatments 3x a week. At the end of the 3 months they checked to see how the hormone levels had changed, if at all. What they observed was a decrease in the amount of FSH hormone and an increase in the Estrogen levels. More importantly, they saw a significant increase in the Antral Follicle Count (the amount of follicles/eggs they can count on the surface of the ovary from an ultrasound).
But does this actually affect the pregnancy rate? The natural pregnancy rate after the 3 months of treatment was 15%. And as this may seem like a low number, it is rather high for Women with DOR. And probably just as important, was the finding that the acupuncture was safe and did not result in any infection or injuries.