The definition of infertility is the failure to conceive after 1 year of unprotected intercourse. Infertility can be primary, in women who have never conceived, or secondary, in women who have previously conceived. Some possible reasons include ovulatory failure (27%), tubal damage (14%), endometriosis (5%), low sperm count or poor quality (19%), or other causes (5%). Overall, about 10–20% of infertility cases are unexplained.
In developed countries, 95% of couples attempting to conceive are successful after 2 years. However, the chances of becoming pregnant vary with the cause and duration of infertility, the woman’s age, the woman’s previous pregnancy history, and the availability of different treatment options. For the first 2–3 years of unexplained infertility, cumulative conception rates are 27-46% but decrease a woman’s increasing age and longer duration of infertility.
The purposes of infertility treatment in conventional medicine are to achieve the delivery of one healthy baby and to reduce the distress associated with infertility, with minimal adverse effects. Depending on the cause of the infertility interventions include intrauterine insemination plus controlled ovarian stimulation, in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, gonadotrophin-releasing hormone agonists, medications, laparoscopic ovarian drilling, tubal flushing, and laparoscopic ablation of endometrial deposits.
Research has proven acupuncture treatments may improve infertility by:
- regulating fertility hormones to correct the menstrual cycle
- increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, which can improve the thickness of the endometrial lining, therefore increasing the chances of embryo implantation
- encouraging oocyte quality to increase the chance of fertilization
- promoting embryo implantation