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Can acupuncture improve infertility?

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August 16, 2006
Dr. Max Gomez

About one in every seven couples in this country has trouble conceiving a child.    Fortunately, these days there are very effective infertility treatments but doctors are always looking for ways to improve on these high tech ways to have a baby.   

Now, they've turned back in time, to the ancient art of acupuncture. So what does acupuncture have to do with infertility? Well it turns out it may help women get pregnant.   

Dr. Richard Scott of Reproductive Medicine Associates said, "Several years ago a group in Germany actually studied acupuncture and felt like they had higher implantation rates when they used acupuncture."   

Here implantation means embryos that come from in vitro fertilization are transferred into the womb where they attach to the uterine wall to begin a pregnancy.    

Dr. Scott, a nationally known infertility expert, says that's where acupuncture comes in.    "Western trained scientists have been able to demonstrate that when you do acupuncture that the uterus relaxes. Contractions decrease, blood flow increases, and those are all changes that we consider more favorable."   

But none of this proves that acupuncture is what made the difference, so Dr. Scott is doing a study that scientifically compares cold needle and laser acupuncture against sham acupuncture and no treatment.     

Even if acupuncture doesn't actually make the womb more receptive directly, it often has a secondary effect.  "There's a lot of emotional and physical stress involved with IVF treatments and a lot of women find that acupuncture helps them deal with that, manage that stress," acupuncturist Marc Passman says.     

Acupuncture is not meant as a replacement for proven fertility treatments, but as an additional therapy as a way to further improve the pregnancy rate for IVF.   

While the study is not complete yet, Dr. Scott says  that a preliminary analysis shows the needle acupuncture group is getting more successful embryo implantations.

Website: http://www.rmanj.com/index.html

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