What Is Ovarian Reserve?
An ovarian reserve means the amount of eggs stored in a woman’s ovaries which can be stimulated with drugs for IVF treatment. As women age their ovarian reserve shrinks. This is because women are born with all their eggs; none are created through growth or puberty to replenish the store.
What Are The Problems Encountered With Ovarian Reserve?
Not all eggs are created equal; some are genetically abnormal or unbalanced. The healthy eggs are released first when the woman is younger and as she ages there are less healthy ones available. From the age of 35 older women are less fertile than their younger peers and women over the age of 40 may only have a 20% chance of delivering a baby through IVF.
Stimulating this egg reserve is an important part of IVF, so researchers are investigating new methods to create a higher yield of healthy eggs.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a method of treatment where fine needles are placed under the skin. The method was drawn from ancient Chinese medicine and Western research has shown that acupuncture can stimulate nerves beneath the skin. It’s often used to treat pain, but is increasingly under the microscope for its influences on fertility treatment.
How Does Acupuncture Improve Pregnancy Rate?
Studies into acupuncture’s influence on ovarian reserve have produced some encouraging results. Here are the findings.
A study group of 56 patients was split into four sections. The first received transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) - a needle-free acupuncture method, the second group received a placebo acupuncture method, the third group received artificial endometrial cycle treatment (AEC) - an existing fertility treatment, and the fourth group were set as a control group.
These were the results:
In the TEAS group
↑ The antral follicle count was increased - antral follicle count refers to the number of eggs available.
↑ The anti-mullerian hormone levels were increased - anti-mullarian hormone levels indicate the presence of a hormone produced by cells lining the egg sacs.
↓ The estradiol levels were decreased - estradiol levels indicate how well the ovaries are working.
↓ The follicle-stimulating hormone level/ratio was deceased - follicle-stimulating hormones are produced by the pituitary gland and regulate egg production.
↑ After receiving treatment women receiving TEAS had a higher yield of oocytes (immature eggs) and also had a higher average number of embryos transferred than the other groups.
↑ The live pregnancy rate for the TEAS group was higher than the other three groups.
Researchers believe that TEAS and AEC treatments improve hormone levels, the number of eggs and the number of viable embryos. They concluded that TEAS could also improve the current pregnancy rate during in vitro fertilisation (placing a fertilised egg directly into the womb) and embryo transfer.
Currently acupuncture is not a popular treatment in the western world, but that looks set to change. It’s non-invasive and according to this study it produces results. No doubt we’ll be seeing more of it in the future.
See other articles on Fertility:
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