Updated: 6 days ago
Study suggested that stress has negative impact on women’s fertility
In North America, 20%–25% of women and 18%–21% of men of reproductive age report daily psychological stress. A study has assessed the association of stress and fertility in couples from the general population.
The data used in this study was from Pregnancy Study Online, a web-based preconception cohort study of pregnancy planners from the United States and Canada (2013–2018), to examine the association between women’s and men’s perceived stress levels prior to conception and fertility. Women (aged 21–45 years) and their male partners (aged ≥21 years) who were attempting conception without fertility treatment were chosen.
Perceived stress was measured using the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Pregnancy information was checked using bimonthly follow-up questionnaires of female participants. 4,769 couples participated the study until self-reported pregnancy, initiation of fertility treatment, loss to follow-up, or 12 menstrual cycles of attempt time, whichever came first.
Higher PSS scores among the women, not men associated with slight reductions in fertility was found in this study.
Hormones are the driving force of fertility. There are mainly five hormones that are involved in fertility: gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are produced by hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis which refers to the complex interaction between hypothalamus, pituitary, and ovaries. This axis regulates reproductive cycles and fertility by producing those hormones. Disruption of any parts of this axis could lead to loss of hormone balance. As a result menstrual cycles and the fertility can be affected. The common symptom of imbalanced hormones is disturbed menstrual cycles. Physical and emotional stress can cause menstrual cycles changes such as irregular periods and it can affect fertility. Stress triggers the release of stress hormone cortisol, which changes the body metabolism. Cotisol is made from progesterone in female and testosterone in male. If under stress, the body keeps making stress hormone which would exhaust sex hormone and this compromise fertility. Research has suggested that high level of stress is associated with low level of conception.
Acupuncture can help to release stress andas a result, it can help improve the fertility. Here are some researches how acupuncture helps the fertility.
Acupuncture combined clomiphene citrate for anovulatory infertility
Acupuncture is a popular therapy for women fertility treatment which is supported by many researches. A recent review evaluated the comparative effectiveness of acupuncture or acupuncture combined with clomiphene citrate (CC) versus CC alone on the outcomes of anovulatory infertility. In this study 1441 women were included. They found that patients who received acupuncture as a separate treatment modality had higher pregnancy rate and larger the maximum follicular diameter when compared with CC alone. There was a reduction in the rate of pregnancy loss when acupuncture was used as a separate treatment compared with CC alone. They concluded that the use of acupuncture as a monotherapy significantly improved the rate of pregnancy among the study participants compared with the use of CC alone.
Acupuncture improves fertility for infertile women without undergoing assisted reproductive techniques (ART)
Acupuncture has been popular for decades to help women’s fertility, but the effectiveness is still in debate. What is the latest development of research on this aspect? A paper analysed data up to June 2018 to study the effectiveness of acupuncture for infertile women with natural conception.
22 trials with a total of 2591 participants were included. The participants included were women aged 20–40 years, a husband with semen of normal quality and shape, women who failed to conceive with unprotected sexual life for 1 year, women with a gynecological diagnosis of infertility, women not receiving treatment by assisted reproductive technology. The experimental group received acupuncture or its combined therapy, and the control group received other standard therapies, such as injected Western drugs and oral Western medication. They measured pregnancy rate, which was confirmed with a pregnancy test and ultrasound, ovulation rate, endometrial thickness, endocrine indexes, such as luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and adverse events.
The results show that
1, the pregnancy rate is significantly increased with acupuncture treatment with or without other intervention such as Chinese medicine or Western medicine; pregnancy rate is increased with all types of infertility such as ovulation disorders or other types of infertility.
2, ovulation rate is increased with acupuncture treatments.
3, the level of LH is significantly improved with acupuncture treatments.
4, the level of endometrial thickness is significantly improved with acupuncture treatments.
5, fewer side effects occurs with acupuncture treatments.
Successful acupuncture treatment for fertility case report
This is a case report of a young couple, 28 years old man and woman who were unable to conceive after trying for a year.
The female patient was diagnosed with endometriosis with chocolate cysts on both ovaries. Her menstrual cycles were regular with severe period pain. She also had bad acne too. The male patient’s sperm were in low mobility. Both patients were offered weekly acupuncture treatments. After 7 weeks of acupuncture, the female patient was pregnant without ovarian cysts. The blood tests after 7 weeks of acupuncture treatment showed normal hormone levels of Prolactin, Estradiol, TSH, LH, FSH and Testosterone, low tumour markers levels (CEA, OMMA, GIMA); increased HCG hormone level showed the pregnancy.
Amelia K Wesselink American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 187, Issue 12, December 2018, Pages 2662–2671
Yun L et al Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Jul;98(29):e16463. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000016463.
Gao et al Acupunct Med. 2020 Feb;38(1):25-36. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2017-011629. Epub 2019 Oct 3.
Zhu J etc Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2018 Sep 19;6(9):1685-1687. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2018.379. eCollection 2018 Sep 25.