The Science of Acupuncture
Cortisol levels and very early pregnancy loss in humans
Published online before print February 22, 2006
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 1.0.1073/pnas.0511183103, February 22, 2006
Physiology Anthropology-Social Sciences
Nepomnaschy, P., Welch, K., McConnell, D., Low, B., Strassmann, B. and England, B.
A 2006 study demonstrates that during the first three weeks of pregnancy women with high cortisol levels (cortisol is a hormone responsible for several stress related activities in the body) are nearly three times more likely to miscarry than women with normal levels of cortisol.
The study found that miscarriages were 2.7 times more likely among women with increased cortisol levels. Miscarriages happened after an average of about two weeks of pregnancy. 90% of women with high cortisol levels miscarried in the first three weeks of pregnancy. 33% of women with normal cortisol levels miscarried in the first three weeks of pregnancy.
To keep cortisol levels healthy and under control, the body's relaxation response must be activated. You can learn to relax your body with various stress management techniques, and you can make lifestyle changes in order to keep your body from reacting to stress in the first place. The following have been found by many to be very helpful in relaxing the body and mind, aiding the body in maintaining healthy cortisol levels:
• Guided Imagery
• Listening to Music
• Breathing Exercises
The Concerns During Assissted Reproductive Technologies (CART) scale and pregnancy outcomes
Fertility And Sterility, Vol. 81, Issue 4, Apr 2004, Klonoff-Cohen, Ph.D., Natarajan, Ph.D.
A study published in the April 2004 issue of Fertility and Sterility by Hillary Klonoff-Cohen, Ph.D. and Loki Natarajan, Ph.D. of UCSD examined patient questionnaires collected from seven fertility centers in Southern California from 1993 to 1998 and found that "the number of oocytes fertilized was negatively influenced by women's concerns about the ART procedure and missing work." While their study stops short of identifying a biological mechanism, education, counseling and stress reduction therapy may improve success rates. Acupuncture and massage are proven effective stress reducers.
Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproductive therapy
Fertility and Sterility, April 2002, Wolfgang E. Paulus M.D., et. al.
A study, published in the April 2002 issue of Fertility and Sterility by researchers in Germany and China, found that "acupuncture seems to be a useful tool for improving pregnancy rate after ART." (2) The study involved 160 patients undergoing ART (IVF and ICSI). Clinical pregnancy was achieved in 26.3% of the control group (21 of 80), whereas clinical pregnancy was achieved in 42.5% of the experimental group (34 of 80). The researchers concluded that "the results demonstrate that acupuncture therapy improves pregnancy rate." (2)
2 - Paulus M.D., Wolfgang E., et. al. "Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproductive therapy", Fertility and Sterility, vol. 77, no. 4, April 2002, Elsevier Science, Inc.
Substitution of Acupuncture for HCG in Ovulation Induction
Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Vol. 17-2 1997, Cai Xuefen.
A study, published in the 2nd quarter 1997 issue of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine by Cai Xuefen of the Obstetrical & Gynecological Hospital, Zhejiang Medical University, Zhejiang Province 310006, found that "acupuncture is effective in ovulation induction and also in the remission of OHSS [ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome] induced by HMG [human menopausal gonadotropin]" (3)
3 - Xuefen, Cai. "Substitution of Acupuncture for HCG in Ovulation Induction", Journal of Traditional Oriental Medicine, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 119-121, 1997.
Stress and Unexplained Infertility
Randine Lewis, Ph.D., L.Ac., Eastern Harmony Clinic, Houston, TX
Dr. Randine Lewis, Ph.D., L.Ac., residing acupuncturist at the Eastern Harmony Clinic in Houston, TX, is a leader in the field of acupuncture as it relates to gynecology and infertility. This article discusses the different approaches Chinese Medicine takes in treating "unexplained infertility" and how stress can effect our bodies and our ability to conceive. "Most women with irregular menstrual cycles who are unable to conceive are given the diagnosis of "unexplained infertility" because their laboratory blood analyses still show hormonal levels within the "normal" range." (4) Chinese medicine addresses imbalances in the body and is "particularly effective in treating this otherwise devastating diagnosis." (4)
4 - Lewis, Randine Ph.D., L.Ac. "Stress and Unexplained Infertility", Eastern Harmony Clinic, Medical Article #RL-07.