A diagnosis of Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) can feel like a huge roadblock in trying to conceive. However, while certain bloodwork and biomarkers (AMH and FSH) provide good insight into the patients anticipated response to IUI or IVF stimulation it does not indicate egg or oocyte QUALITY which is a huge (and more important) factor in your ability to become pregnant and deliver a healthy baby. With regular treatment, acupuncture has been shown to improve egg QUALITY in women diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve.
It is discouraging to learn that all women are born with a finite supply of eggs that gradually dwindles with age. Women who are diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve have a lower than average amount of eggs left in their “reserve” compared to other women their age. The good news is that women with test results indicating low ovarian reserve were no less likely to conceive within six to 12 months of trying to conceive than women whose lab tests didn’t point to a limited egg supply.
So how does acupuncture work to improve egg quality in women diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve?
Acupuncture works to improve follicle AND oocyte quality which in turn results in better egg and embryo quality. The follicle is the “house” of the oocyte. It is considered a microenvironment and a reflection of the mother’s overall health. Acupuncture focuses on restoring balance to the mother’s internal environment and improving all aspects of her her overall health, including her reproductive system.
Maternal mitochondrial DNA from the follicle travels to the egg. This plays an important role in embryonic development. With acupuncture, we can have a direct impact on the mitochondria and communicate with the nervous system to help regulate hormones, promote maturation of follicles and induce ovulation.
Acupuncture needles placed over a woman’s lower abdomen in specific locations are able to influence the mitochondria to release more energy to the cell, in this case the follicle and oocyte. The more energy the cell receives the better able it is to multiply and divide which results in better egg quality, cellular growth and development.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, diminished ovarian reserve often indicates a deficiency in the kidneys, specifically kidney-jing (which is considered your essence). Your Jing (essence) is similar to your DNA is the sense that this is what is passed on from generation to generation. So with acupuncture, we focus on strengthening your kidney-jing to increase your reproductive potential.
All acupuncture treatments are holistic in nature which means that we will do an assessment of your overall health and may find imbalances in other organs systems in addition to your kidneys. The more focused and precise our TCM diagnosis is, the better you will respond to treatment.
How long does it take for acupuncture to help improve egg quality?
Generally, 3 months of pre-conception care is needed to improve follicle and egg quality, as well as addressing any other imbalances that may be present at the same time. A customized fertility acupuncture treatment plan created by Registered Acupuncturist will be your best chance a success.
Like anything, we focus on treating YOU as a whole person. So even though fertility is your main reason for coming in, we will also address any other imbalances we see such as poor sleep, digestive complaints, migraines, back pain etc.
If you are working with a fertility clinic and using any assisted reproductive technologies such as IUI or IVF, we will work simultaneously with your treatment plan from your reproductive endocrinologist. Together we will track your cycles and sync our acupuncture treatments to correspond to the treatment plan from your fertility clinic. In this case, 3 months of pre-conception care is still ideal for best treatment outcomes, but has still shown positive outcome for those who do not have enough time to complete a full 3 months of care before undergoing an IUI or IVF. Bottom line, it’s never too late to start and we will work with you wherever you are at on your journey.
Clinical trials and research on the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of diminished ovarian reserve
Acupuncture has been used for the treatment of female infertility for thousands of years in China. A prospective observational study  reported significant decrease of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels and increase of estradiol (E2) level among diminished ovarian reserve patients treated with acupuncture. Similar results were observed in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for women with premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), a condition showing a more serious decline of ovarian function than diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). In recent years, acupuncture has gained worldwide popularity as an adjunct to assisted reproductive technology. A higher clinical pregnancy rate was reported in patients receiving acupuncture prior to and post-embryo transfer during IVF-ET cycles [16, 17]. In this trial, a prospective randomized sham-controlled study will be conducted to investigate the effect of acupuncture for women with diminished ovarian reserve. Click HERE to read the full research article.
Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation
If you have any questions about how acupuncture can help you conceive with diminished ovarian reserve, please feel free to give me a call for a free 15 minute phone consultation 905.553.9255
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Amanda Barone has been working as a fertility-focused acupuncturist since 2011. She has years of experience helping the Vaughan community build their families and over come hurdles when it comes to reproductive health. Give us a call today to discuss your specific needs and see how we can help.
I look forward to working with you!