A women’s follicular development is very much influenced by the endocrine system. The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries cooperative function greatly impacts our follicle quality, number of follicles produced, and ovulation. The hypothalamus produces GnRH (Gonadatropin-releasing hormone) to stimulate the pituitary to release FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). In conjunction, the developing follicle produces estrogen, which signals an increase in the production LH from the pituitary gland. The release of these hormones stimulates the follicle in the ovary to mature and triggers ovulation.
Our hypothalamus, pituitary, and ovarian function can change or be interrupted in function due factors such as preexisting conditions, age, toxins, poor diet, and stress. However, the balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and ovaries can also be positively influenced to help prepare the body and reproductive organs for good quality follicular development, ovulation, implantation, and pregnancy.
Ovarian factors are the leading cause of infertility. Some of the conditions that are linked to ovarian dysfunction are polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), premature ovarian failure (POF), diminished ovarian reserve, and elevated FSH levels (due to POF, PCOS, or diminished ovarian reserve).
What acupuncture can do for egg quality and ovarian health
There is hope! Clinical research has proven that acupuncture & Chinese Medicine can successfully improve blood flow to the ovaries and uterus. Through improving blood flow, acupuncture helps to improve ovarian function, follicular development, and endometrial development. Shannon has treated many women who have had diminished ovarian function or reserve, PCOS, and or elevated FSH levels. Women have seen improved follicular development, improved overall egg quality and maturation, and timely ovulation.
Acupuncture and TCM can also help regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. Through working on the HPO axis, acupuncture helps to regulate the hormones responsible for increasing the number of follicles, improving follicular development, and initiating ovulation.
Research on follicular development and ovulation and acupuncture
The study measured a control group of 19 women and an acupuncture group of 17 women. The control group received 50mg of oral clomiphene at a rate of once per day for a total of 50 menstrual cycles. The acupuncture group received the clomiphene at the same dosage and rate plus regular acupuncture treatments. The researchers measured changes in ovulation, endometrial thickness, cervical mucus, pelvic fluid, and follicular development. The acupuncture group showed a significantly higher rate of both ovulation and conception than the group receiving medication only.
The researchers measured the effects of acupuncture and moxibustion on anovulatory infertility, a type of infertility caused by the lack of ovulation. Following the treatment regime, FSH, LH and E2 levels improved. In addition, the thickness of the endometrium increased and the follicle diameter increased. The higher pregnancy rates and objective testing resulted in the research team finding acupuncture and moxibustion successful in enhancing fertility for women with anovulatory infertility.
XU, Yin, and Miao ZHANG. “Efficacy observation on 40 cases of anovulatory infertility treated by acupuncture and moxibustion.” World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion 23, no. 1 (2013): 40-43.
Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist
Shannon attended the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine where she earned a Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine and Bachelors in Nutrition. She is nationally board certified acupuncturist through NCCAOM and is a state certified acupuncturist. Shannon is deeply dedicated to helping couples facing fertility challenges to achieve and maintain pregnancy. She has witnessed the profound effect acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can have on regulating the bodies functions from a hormonal, emotional, and physical standpoint. It is with great joy and presence that Shannon works with women and couples through their own unique journey with fertility.