This is the 27th installment of Barren Advice. You can ask questions that are fertility or non-fertility related.
Barren Advice is posted each Tuesday-ish. If you have your own question for Barren Advice, click here to learn how to submit. Please weigh in with your own thoughts in the comment section and indicate which question you're addressing if there are multiple questions in the post.
I am looking into acupuncture. It is pretty expensive, so I would like advice from you and others on the prospects of acupuncture working for me. I have been diagnosed with PCOS and Clomid has not been successful in making me ovulate. I will be moving on soon probably to injectables and IUI cycles. Any help, any pros/cons any success stories involving acupuncture, etc. would be great! Thanks!
--He Resoreth My Soul
Unlike other alternative therapies (rubbing yam cream on your inner thighs anyone?), acupuncture has been well-studied in regards to infertility. And that could be because while it's alternative for us, it is mainstream for a large portion of the world. And NIH simply cannot deny its success rate even though they state that it is "difficult to reconcile with contemporary biomedical information." In other words, American doctors can't figure out how it works based on our breadth of knowledge but they do know that it does work.
And, at the very least, it falls in the "can't hurt" category.
Most of the studies on acupuncture and infertility have focused on IVF rather than IUI. Fertility and Sterility has released articles on utilizing acupuncture to increase the success of IVF. Acupuncture benefits have been studied for cycles where treatment fell during the luteal phase (after ovulation) as well as on the day of transfer during IVF. In both cases, pregnancy rates were higher for those who utilized acupuncture over the control group who received a placebo (non-strategically placed needles? Ouch!).
Acupuncture has also been studied in regards to male factor infertility. A recent study reported through National Institutes of Health (NIH) saw significant increases in sperm production after acupuncture was used and concluded: "acupuncture may be a useful, nontraumatic treatment for males with very poor sperm density, especially those with a history of genital tract inflammation." Another study also reported by NIH found that not only sperm quality increased after acupuncture, but also fertilization increased.
So nothing specifically with PCOS and IUIs from a medical study, but certainly enough anecdotal evidence on the Web to warrant trying it.
All that said, just as you do diligence to find a good reproductive endocrinologist, make sure you're comfortable with your acupuncture practitioner. In other words, go with someone licensed. The best bet is to contact your local Resolve chapter because they have lists of recommended practitioners for everything from reproductive endocrinology to acupuncturists who specifically work with infertility.
If you've utilized acupuncture in addition to injectable with IUI cycles, share your story below.
No really, the beauty of a blog advice column is that you get to weigh in with your two cents too. Let the questioner know if you support the advice, add to the response, or dispute it completely.
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