Pam’s Blog – Acupuncture and the Relationship between FSH and Ovarian Reserve

What's the relationship between FSH and Ovarian Reserve?

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 gland.  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 egg growth.  As women age and egg quality and quantity decline, the pituitary gland needs to produce 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 are high.

How can Acupuncture help?

For patients with poor ovarian reserve, the aim of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to improve blood flow to the ovaries thereby increasing receptivity to stimulation by the pituitary gland, thus lowering FSH.  It is uncommon for my patients to have FSH levels that do not go down with a course of acupuncture and herbal treatment.  A study on the effects of acupuncture on ovarian reserve by Dr. Paul Magerelli found that women who have poor ovarian reserve and elevated FSH who 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. Magerelli, "the use of  acupuncture in patients with poor prognosis(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.

Pamela Policastro, MSOM,Dipl.OM, L.Ac

Source: Paul C. Magarelli, M.D., Diane K. Cridennda, L.Ac., Mel Cohen, Ph.D., Changes in serum cortisol and prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer treatment, Fertility and Sterility, Volume 92, Issue 6, December 2009, Pages 1870-1879, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.10.067
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