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Low Level Laser Therapy (photobiomodulation) for Infertility Treatment

shutterstock_276627296Laser therapy is cutting edge application for rejuvenating the ovaries, reversing ovarian age, and treating infertility. In the past 50 years, low level lasers have been utilized to treat inflammation and pain in other parts of the body, specifically joints and muscles. However, research suggests that quality treatments administered to the ovaries and uterus can massively support your fertility.

Photobiomodulation will not harm you because it is not the same as a high intensity laser, as would be used for surgical procedures. Rather, photobiomodulation is the use of low intensity lasers to isolated parts of the body, effective to treat various conditions, characteristically caused by aging, inflammation, and oxidative stress. 

Low Level Laser Therapy (abbreviated LLLT) is widely used for anti-aging treatments and pain management today. This clinically proven method has been around for over three decades now, and has been a therapy applied to a variety of conditions that require stimulation of healing, relief from inflammation, and restoring vital function. The way in which photobiomodulation works is by mimicking how the cells communicate with each other and thereby, boosting the ability to produce ATP. It’s to be noted that ATP is the vital energy source that has to be given to each cell to carry out the regenerative and repair functions. By administering the low level laser light, the ATP is found to be increased by up to 150%.

As LLLT is found to be effective in anti-aging treatments, various researchers across the world are applying it for treating infertility. Surprisingly, the anti-aging concept with a low level laser is also effective in reversing ovarian age. Thus, this therapy can be used as an adjunctive therapy to holistic methods or in-vitro fertilization. This treatment, has a strong potential to help attain a woman’s highest fertility potential while trying to conceive naturally or artificially.

How does LLLT work?

LLLT helps to optimize fertility in women and men by 

  1. Activating mitochondrial function by stimulating the production of ATP in the cells — which serve to improve egg and sperm quality.
  2. Promoting the circulation of blood 
  3. Controlling inflammation (which is a key contributor to ovarian aging), 
  4. Softening scar tissue
  5. Reducing oxidative damage

Since these are some of the major causes of infertility today, LLLT is a safe and effective treatment for these root causes that contribute to lowered ovarian reserves, lowered sperm counts, and helping to improve egg and sperm quality. 

Ovarian Aging and Anti-Mullerian Hormone:

This, which is otherwise called AMH, is a substance that is being produced by the granulosa cells in the follicles of the ovaries. Anti-Mullerian Hormone is a frequently used barometer to measure the state of ovarian reserve in women. When these levels are low (especially in combination with increased levels of follicle stimulating hormone -FSH- levels), it suggests that the particular woman’s ovarian reserve is greatly decreased and hence, needs immediate attention if fertility is to be enhanced. 

What does the research suggest about LLLT for Infertility?

Increasing ovarian reserves (actively witnessed via increased AMH and decreased FSH) are intimately tied to optimizing fertility by increasing the number of follicles and increasing egg quality. There is preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of LLLT in treating infertility, with more research needed. A study that was performed in an IVF center in Japan, used LLLT in women with low or undetectable AMH levels. Out of 188 patients treated, almost 56% reported pregnancy and 38% reported live births. This study was conducted from April 2010 to November 2015 on patients with low or undetectable AMH levels. They were administered with low-level laser light for the neck and the abdominal-lumbar regions. For better understanding, out of thirteen patients with an AMH level of 0.1, six patients were found to achieve a clinical pregnancy and five patients gave birth. An extension of this study showed 50% pregnancy rates. 

A study in Denmark showed a 66% pregnancy rate in women who had struggled with infertility of 4 or more years with failure of ART procedures. 

Although there are only a few studies on the effectiveness of LLLT, several case studies have been reported that LLLT is effective in ovarian age reversal and thus, can be used effectively to treat infertility, especially in the patients with low AMH levels. More clinical research is needed, although the preliminary studies show high potential for LLLT to be a valuable method to optimizing fertility in women undergoing natural or artificial conception.

Specific patients who would most benefit from photobiomodulation therapies, for natural conception or in combination with assisted reproductive technologies (IVF):

~ Women with low ovarian reserves

~ Women of advanced maternal age

~ Men with low sperm count or quality

~ Women who have been through multiple cycles of IVF with high retrieval rates but low blastocyst rates

~ Women with PCOS, ovarian cysts, or fibroids 

~ Women with endometriosis

~ Women with poor egg quality 

~ Women with poor implantation rates, repeat pregnancy loss, or chemical pregnancies

Protocols for treating infertility 

At our clinic, we advise working with a fertility specialist for photobiomodulation, rather than a different type of practitioner, such as a Dermatologist or Chiropractor, who may have access to these technologies in his or her office. There are specific protocols for using this modality effectively for infertility, the same as there would be for anti-aging therapies of the skin, vs using laser for pain management. Over the years, we have had patients test out the use of low level lasers on their own and these patients have been highly unsuccessful in optimizing their fertility. This leads us to the conclusion that low level laser therapy for fertility enhancement should be attempted only by a trained fertility professional.

It should be noted, also, that the best outcomes for fertility are always when fertility optimization is supported from all different angles. In essence, it is important to address diet, lifestyle, nutritional levels, toxin load & detoxification, and hormonal balance as a holistic approach to fertility. 

 

References:

  1. Avci, Pinar et al. “Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring.” Seminars in cutaneous medicine and surgery vol. 32,1 (2013): 41-52.
  2. “Congress Abstracts .” J-STAGE, www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/islsm/25/3/25_16-AB-01/_pdf.
  3. Iwahata, Hidehisa, et al. “TREATMENT OF FEMALE INFERTILITY INCORPORATING LOW-REACTIVE LASER THERAPY (LLLT): AN INITIAL REPORT.” J-STAGE.
  4. Ohshiro, Toshio. “Personal Overview of the Application of LLLT in Severely Infertile Japanese Females.” Laser therapy vol. 21,2 (2012): 97-103. doi:10.5978/islsm.12-OR-05
  5. Lorne. “Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) in Our Infertility Clinic.” Acubalance Wellness Centre, 1 June 2017, www.acubalance.ca/resources/publications/low-level-laser-therapy-lllt-our-infertility-clinic.
  6. Lorne. “Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) in Our Infertility Clinic.” Acubalance Wellness Centre, 1 June 2017, www.acubalance.ca/resources/publications/low-level-laser-therapy-lllt-our-infertility-clinic.
  7. Avci, Pinar et al. “Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss.” Lasers in surgery and medicine vol. 46,2 (2014): 144-51. doi:10.1002/lsm.22170
  8. Sawhney, Mossum K., and Michael R. Hamblin. “Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT) for Cosmetics and Dermatology.” Mechanisms for Low-Light Therapy IX, 2014, doi:10.1117/12.2041330.
  9. Hasan, P. et al: “The possible application of low-reactive laser level therapy (LLLT) in the treatment of male infertility”. 1989.
  10. Bartmann, A. et al: “Why do older women have poor impanation rates? A possible role of the mitochondria”. 2004.
  11. Kara, T.: “Lasers in infertility treatment. Irradiation of oocytes and spermatozoa”. 2012.
  12. Firestone, R. et al: “The effects of low-level light exposure on sperm motion characteristics and DNA damage”. 2013.

 

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