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Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc.
It has been substantiated in a number of studies that an adequate blood supply to the endometrium is essential for implantation and improved pregnancy outcomes in In-vitro fertilization/embryo transfer (IVF-ET). The importance of both sub - endometrial and endometrial blood flows is directly correlated with a receptive endometrium, which consists of an endometrial thickness greater than 7mm and less than 14mm, a triple line pattern, and uninhibited blood flow. Successful implantation depends on these minimal requirements, along with a quality embryo and open communication between the two.
What causes the endometrial blood flow to become inhibited?
How can electroacupuncture increase pelvic blood flow?
In 1996, a Swedish study, involved 10 healthy women with infertility who had reported to a fertility center with a pulsatility index (PI) score of >3.0 in the uterine arteries. They were down-regulated with a gonadotropin releasing hormone analogue (GnRHa) in order to prevent any inhibiting effects of endogenous hormones. A baseline was taken of the PI after establishing estradiol levels less than 0.1nm. The patients were treated with electroacupuncture (EA) 8 times, twice a week for 4 weeks. Directly after the eighth EA session the PI was measured again, and then another time 10-14 days after the EA regimen was finished.
The results of the study showed that the PI taken after the eighth treatment, as well as, at the 10-14 day follow-up was significantly reduced compared to the mean baseline PI. The researchers concluded that EA was able to reduce the impedance in the uterine arteries, most likely by inhibiting sympathetic activity.[i]
In 2009, a comparable Taiwanese study found similar results reflecting the ability of EA to manipulate the sympathetic nervous system, and therefore increasing blood flow to the endometrium.[ii]
Note: The Swedish study did have some design deficits not limited to: prospective study, short duration, small sample size, and non-randomized.
[i] Stener-Victorin E, Waldenström U, Andersson SA, Wikland M. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Hum Reprod. 1996 Jun;11(6):1314-7.
[ii] Ho M, Huang LC, Chang YY, Chen HY, Chang WC, Yang TC, Tsai HD. Electroacupuncture reduces uterine artery blood flow impedance in infertile women. Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Jun;48(2):148-51. doi: 10.1016/S1028-4559(09)60276-X.
Image: See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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