Poor Ovarian Reserve
Ovarian reserve is measure of the remaining number of eggs in the ovaries. As the women ages, ovarian reserve becomes depleted. Infertility specialists are not as interested in a woman’s chronological age (how old she is), but are more interested in her biological age (how many eggs are left in her ovaries). While there is a strong correlation between chronological age and ovarian reserve, the one does not necessarily follow the other. Many older women have a strong ovarian reserve, while some younger women do not.
Some women find it difficult to understand why FSH levels go up in women with poor quality eggs or a diminished ovarian reserve. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is produced by the pituitary. This is the hormone that is responsible for the growth of the egg within the ovaries each month. In younger women, who usually have a large reserve of good quality eggs, small amounts of FSH are sufficient to stimulate the eggs to grow. As women age, and egg quality and quantity decline, the pituitary needs to produce more and more FSH in order to stimulate egg growth. Simply put, the fewer eggs a woman has remaining in her reserve, the more FSH is needed to accomplish stimulation and growth. Thus, in women whose ovarian reserve has declined, FSH levels climb higher and higher.
For patients with poor ovarian reserve, the aim of Traditional Chinese Medicine for is to improve blood flow to the ovaries thereby increasing receptivity to stimulation by the pituitary gland, and thus lowering FSH. It is uncommon for patients at our clinic to have FSH levels that do not go down with a course of acupuncture and herbal treatment. When the ovaries age, their available blood flow decreases due to narrowing of the capillaries that supply blood.
A study on the effects of acupuncture on ovarian reserve by Dr. Paul C. Magerelli found that women who have poor ovarian reserve and elevated FSH and combine acupuncture treatment with their IVF cycle can expect about the same chance of success as women with normal ovarian reserve and FSH levels who undergo IVF without acupuncture. According to the research of Dr. Magarelli, “the use of acupuncture in patients with poor prognoses (elevated Peak FSH, longer history of infertility, poor ovarian reserve and poor sperm morphology) can achieve similar pregnancy rates to normal prognosis patients.”
If you have been diagnosed with poor ovarian reserve, advanced maternal age, elevated FSH or premature ovarian failure, or if you have had to cancel an IVF cycle due to poor response to stimulation, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine may offer a safe, natural, and effective solution to help you conceive. Call to schedule a consultation with one of our reproductive specialists to find out if acupuncture can make a difference for you.