Improving Fertility by Balancing Prolactin, Progesterone and Estrogens
Acupuncture helps regulate and balance women's hormonal levels, normalize the menstrual cycle, and improve rates of conception and pregnancy. Acupuncture has been found to be quite effective in improving fertility in both men and women.
The endocrine system, which today is subject to so many toxins and endocrine disruptors is probably the key to fertility/infertility problems. When your homonal balance is out of order then becoming pregnant becomes more difficult.
How do Hormones Affect Fertility?
Successful birth depends on a balance of hormones from conception all the way through to delivery. It depends upon a balance of five hormones: prolactin, progesterone and three kinds of estrogens.
Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. Prolactin plays an important role in ovulation as well as other reproductive functions. Too-high levels of prolaction disrupt the normal reproductive cycle and affect ovulation.
New research finds that acupuncture is more than twice as effective as fertility drugs in normalizing prolactin. Researchers in China investigated 60 women with too-high prolactin levels which disrupted their normal reproductive cycle and blocked fertility. In a year long study, women subjects received acupuncture for 30 minutes each day during their cycle. This was compared to a control group of women who took a drug to lower prolactin levels.
Results? The women were monitored for a year. 43% were more likely to conceive and had prolactin levels reduced in two weeks without side effects. In contrast it took four weeks for normization for the women taking bromocriptine or bromocriptine with clomiphene, and 63% of those women experienced side effects.1
Progesterone is produced during the second half of the menstrual cycle by a "temporary" endocrine gland called the corpus luteum. Progesterone is a form of steroid that prepares the uterus to receive a fertilized egg. It accomplishes this by causing the nutrient-rich uterine lining to thicken, and it limits muscle contractions of the uterus that might expel an egg. Women who have problems with their menstrual cycle such as irregular periods or who suffer miscarriages often have low progesterone levels.
Acupuncture has been found to improve the balance of prolactin and progesterone contributing to the ability of the uterus to safely receive a fertilized egg.2, 3
Estradiol, produced by the ovaries, is the most commonly measured type of estrogen. It is the hormone of the young woman who is ready to bear children. It is a steroid and female sex hormone that controls the menstrual cycle by inducing ovulation. It gradually increases and descreases during the menstrual cycle. After ovulation, estradiol cooperates with progesterone to prepare the uterus to receive a fertilized egg. Researchers find that acupuncture modulates estradiol and the effects of the acupuncture treatment endure for about three months after treatment.4
Estriol is the estrogen produced by the placenta and is only seen during pregnancy. It is thought to protect the hypothalamus of the fetus. Estriol is detectable by the 9th week of pregnancy and keeps increasing until the child is born. It is thought that when estriol levels are low in the mother that the female child is more likely to suffer from irregular periods and other women's health issues.
The third and least abundant estrogen is estrone which produced by the ovaries and by fat tissue. Although abundant during pregnancy, estrone levels drop off after menopause. Researchers find that estrone levels can be increased by acupuncture treatment.5 Another Chinese Herbal Medicine technique, moxibustion is also able to adjust estrone levels.6
Acupuncture Balances Hormonal Levels
Acupuncture is very effective at moderating, adjusting, balancing and improving hormonal levels without use of drugs that often have side effects. Its ability to accomplish this makes it one of the best tools for addressing women's issues of fertility, infertility and the complications during pregnancy that may arise due to hormonal imbalances.
1. Zhaguang Hu, et al, Mawangdui Hospital, Hunan Province, China, Journal of Clinical Acupuncture, 2016.
2. F. Xiong, et al, Effects of acupuncture on progesterone and prolactin in rats of embryo implantation dysfunction, Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, January, 2015.
3. B.Z. Yang, Effects of electroacupuncture intervention on changes of quality of ovum and pregnancy out- come in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome, Zhen Ci Yan Jiu, April, 2015.
4. Y. Wang, et al, Electroacupuncture for reproductive hormone levels in patients with diminished ovarian reserve: a prospective observational study, Acupuncture in Medicine, May, 2016.
5. J. Sun, et al, Effects of electroacupuncture of "Guanyuan" (CV 4)-"Zhongji" (CV 3) on ovarian P450 arom and P450c 17alpha expression and relevant sex hormone levels in rats with polycystic ovary syndrome, Zhen Ci Yan Jui, December, 2013.
6. Y. X. Ma, et al, Research of Herb-Partitioned Moxibustion for Primary Dysmenorrhea Patients Based on the LC-MS Metabonomics, Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, July, 2015.