Does accupuncture help women having fertility treatment to have babies ?

A friend of mine who has recently been undergoing IVF has been having accupuncture to aid conception. When she told me I was initially surprised and maybe a tiny little sceptical, but I have since been researching it and found quite a lot of support for this alternative therapy.

A recent study at University of Southampton has discovered that one in three women given accupuncture alongside their IVF treatment successfully conceived. The success rate for those who did not combine fertility treatment with acupuncture was one in five.

When I read this the first question I asked was :How many women were in the study ?

The answer : more than 2000 women.

To me that seems a fairly significant number. The study discovered that the chance of the embryo implanting successfully & triggering pregnancy, increased if the patient was treated with acupuncture at about the same time as the embryo transfer. However if the acupuncture took place days after the fertility treatment the benefit was lost.

And how does the accupuncture help ?

No-one really knows how the accupuncture helps conception. One idea that has been put forward is that it may help to reduce the stress that the women is going through, and help her to cope with the treatment. Acupuncture appears to reduce stress by releasing endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are chemicals that the body releases that suppress pain naturally, as well as affect hormones that influence the menstrual cycle.

One thing is for sure in my opinion, anything that improves the outcomes from fertility treatments has to be a good thing. And the really good news is, my friend conceived in her first cycle of IVF coupled with accupuncture.

This subject has been covered quite a lot in the national press-here are some links below

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/health/3042006/Acupuncture-helps-women-have-babies.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/sep/21/medicalresearch.health/print

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1059549/Acupuncture-helps-IVF-women-babies.html

Here is some older research finding on the same subject

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1933901.stm

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2002/jul/07ivf.html

Anti-depressant drug may affect fertility, says study

Just read this very interesting article online and wanted to share it with you.

 It is by Ian Sample from The Guardian Thursday September 25 2008.

 Antidepressant drugs taken by tens of thousands of British men may damage sperm quality and harm fertility, researchers at the Cornell Medical Centre in New York have found.

The doctors examined the effects of paroxetine (Seroxat) on men taking the drug over five weeks. Four weeks into the trial, tests revealed the men had sperm showing more than twice as much genetic damage as at the start of the study.

The findings remain tentative but pose a problem for GPs, who fear patients benefiting from anti-depressants may stop taking the drugs. NHS figures show that during 2006 GPs in Britain wrote nearly 2m prescriptions for paroxetine and the brand Seroxat.

The research team, led by Professor Peter Schlegel, showed that the amount of genetic fragmentation in sperm rose from an average of 13.8% before the trial to 30.3% after a month of the drug. The trial results will be presented in November at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in San Francisco.

Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said the results should not cause alarm: “Patients shouldn’t stop their antidepressants, but those who are depressed and experiencing fertility difficulties may wish to discuss this with their GP.”

Click here to read the rest of the article online

How much sex is enough sex when your trying to conceive, & when am I most fertile ?

Whenever I am trying to conceive I try and make sure we have lots of sex just before , during and after ovulation. Generally this has meant we have unprotected sex 2-3 times over a 3 day period in order to maximise our chances of conceiving.  I read that it is best to have some sperm waiting for the egg as it is released, which is why we do it just before ovulation, as well as during and after.

 I am lucky in that for most of my life I have had a fairly regular cycle of about 27-28 days and find it easy to predict when I will ovulate. This is not as easy if your cycle is erratic.

On a very regular cycle you usually ovulate about 14 days before your period is due 

ie

 if your cycle is 28 days long you ovulate around day 14

if your cycle is a very regular 34 days you ovulate around day 20

if your cycle is a very regular 24 days long you ovulate around day 10

You get the general point

 Unfortunately many of us have erratic cycles & lifestyles ! My cycle has been different at different stages of my life.

In my twenties when I was young and carefree, it was a very regular 27-28 days every month. In my early thirties (before kids) it went down to a very short but thankfully regular 24 days. It was as if my body was trying to increase the chances of me conceiving. Three pregnancies later and in my forties, my cycle is now erratic & anything between 24 days and 34 days. I don’t even bother to write it down any more. It is so unpredicable now.

Fertility Advice-when do I ask for help ?

At what point do I ask for help, is a common question amongst women trying to conceive. I have been researching this, and the common consensus seems to be, that if a couple have been trying to conceive for 12 months without success, they should seek the advice of their doctor.

 However I have also found that there are some exceptions to this-the age of the women is very significant-how long should we leave it if the mother is over a certain age and what is the age ?

From my research, the consensus seems to be, that if the women is over 35 years, and the couple have been trying for 6 months without success, it is advisable to see the GP.

If possible go to see your GP as a couple, and book an appointment for each of you. GP’s are usually quite happy to discuss fertility concerns.