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We already know that infertility causes stress. We also know that stress can have a major impact on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which decreases the reproductive function.

Stress reduction may improve fertility (Domar et al, 1990) and can be achieved through a variety of means. Acupuncture works by inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system and increases the beta-endrophin levels, bringing down the blood cortisol concentrations (Harbach et al, 2007), a marker for stress. It can consequently be beneficial in improving reproductive function. Whilst acupuncture in reducing stress are often view as a placebo effect, many investigators had already done coherent studies to counteract its true efficacy. It was deduced that sham electroacupuncture did not prevent elevations of adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol whereas true acupuncture was effective. The testing reveals that electroacupuncture at a single acupoint is likely to act through the central regulation of corticotropin-releasing hormone and not directly through cortisol nor ACTH  feedback. ACTH is produced in the pituitary gland in response to CRH, which is released by the hypothalamus.

Sources:

  1. Mahlstedt PP, Macduff S, Bernstein J, “Emotional factorsin in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer process,” J In Vitro Fert Embryo Transf 1987;4:232-5.
  2. Domar AD, Zuttermeister PC, Friedman R, “The psychological impact of infertility: a comparison with patients with other medical conditions,” J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 1993;14:45-52.
  3. Dong JT, “Research on the reduction of anxiety and depression with acupuncture,” Am J Acupunct 1993;21:327-30.
  4. Eugster A, Vingerhoets AJ, “Psychological aspects of in vitro fertilization: a review,” Soc Sci Med 1999; 48:575-89.
  5. Eshkevari, Ladan, Susan E. Mulroney, Rupert Egan, and Lixing Lao. “Effects of Acupuncture, RU-486 on the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in Chronically Stressed Adult Male Rats.” Endocrinology (2015): EN-2015. School of Nursing and Health Studies (L.E.), Department of Pharmacology and Physiology (L.E., S.E.M., R.E.), Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007; and School of Chinese Medicine (L.L.), The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.