Acupuncture and physiotherapeutic TENS increase the success rate of IFV

During the last years the use of acupuncture in female infertility as complementary therapy to conventional treatmenthas increased in popularity. Infertility in Traditional Chinese Medicine is defined as stop of Qi and blood in the pelvis. In Western medicine, research shows that increased resistance to uterine blood flow may be important contributing factor to unexplained infertility (Steer,Tan, Mason, and Campbell, 1994).
In conventional medicine in vitro fertilization (IVF) is considered as the next choice of treatment for unexplained infertility when other therapies such as timed intercourse, ovarian superovulation, intrauterine insemination and gamete intrafallopian transfer had failed (Sutter, 2006). During the last decades, the rate of success in the treatment of unexplained infertility has increased largely because of advances in IVF (Reindollar et al, 2009). However, 83–89% of the embryos grown in vitro achieve unsuccessful implantation following IVF and embryo transfer (Steck et al, 2004).

In a case study conducted in Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran, a 30 year old woman with long-standing infertility who was scheduled to undergo ovarian stimulation for IVF and embryo transfer,underwent physiotherapeutic TENS treatment as an adjunct therapy. Before, during and after the course of TENS treatment,transvaginal ultrasonography was performed to measure the uterine artery impedance indices. It was concluded that the addition of physiotherapeutic TENS resulted in remarkable reduction of uterine artery indices and a successful pregnancy after IVF for this woman was achieved (Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 27(2):155–159, 2011).

Other studies also concluded that a good blood supply to the endometrium is an essential requirement for implantation (Ng et al, 2009).In a study in 2007 – Ng et al, has been reported that good uterine blood flow has been correlated with conception following IVF.

Based on the above, it seems logical to conclude that improvement in pelvic blood circulation might be beneficial in the treatment of unexplained infertility. Noninvasive ways to improve pelvic blood flow are as follow:

  • pelvic floor muscle training, performed by a pelvic health physiotherapist
  • digital myofascial and trigger points release of the pelvic floor muscles
  • acupuncture point combination to improve the flow of blood and Qi in the pelvis