Case Studies

Acupuncture and Fertility: Case Studies with Stress Response(HRV)

Kristen Sparrow • March 17, 2015

pregnant girlThe point of my research is to try to capture the healing “shift” that can occur with acupuncture.  Heart rate variability (HRV) could be uniquely well suited to this since it reflects very subtle physiological changes. Since I don’t really know what I’m looking for exactly, I try to look in depth at the HRV data (stress response during treatment) in patients who have dramatic and rapid response.
One such patient was a 39 year old patient from last year who after 2 to 3 treatments became pregnant after having been unable to conceive for years.  These cases are great and it is what I want for each and every patient (not for them to get pregnant of course, but quick and rapid response).  So in this patient,  on the very first visit this is what we see according to my published protocol.  Basically, I look at the first to second 5 minute segment of HRV data.  So with my standard protocol, we see this.ving 2.27.14 5m
Stress level goes up slightly after needling, but then comes down by more than 50%.  From this data you would expect the patient to be a responder, as she proved to be.
But now, I’m starting to look at even shorter time frames.  Sometimes the relaxation response can be quite profound even sooner after needling.  Some patients can really feel it (I am one).    So look at this dataving 2.27.14 3m
This is the same treatment but looking at 3 minute increments. After needling, her stress level went up to 2.5 and then within 3 minutes dropped to .7.  So the decline was even more dramatic when you look at it more closely.  I have looked at a lot of this data, and you will have to believe me that this is a big shift.  And a big shift may be what is called for in acupuncture for it to really work and work well and fast.
Finally, I will show you data from a new patient who is also seeking treatment for fertility. Cha 5m 3.9.15
You see that she had no drop at all from 1st to 2nd 5minute increment and in fact her stress level increased slightly.
When we look at a finer time scale of 3 minutescha 3m 3.9.15
We do see a drop.
When we look at what actually  happens during needling, then it’s interesting too.
chang 3.9.15 with needling 5m
Stress level goes up to 1.27 during needling,  not unexpected since needling is a slight insult to the system.  But look how within 5 minutes it drops to .27.  A five fold decrease in 5 minutes below baseline.
Looking at the 3 minute data, the stress level goes to 1.69 and then drops to .43 within 3 minutes, a fourfold decrease.  Baseline is .48 so a bit below baseline within 3 minutes!  One way to look at this is that it may remarkable resilience, or responsiveness in the system, which could lead to a good acupuncture response.  We will see!!
chang 3.9.15 with needling 3m