Infertility and Erectile Dysfunction
Infertility in Women
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy could be helpful in the treatment of female infertility, particularly where the problem is the quality, specifically the thickness, of the endometrium lining. The endometrium is the mucous membrane lining the uterus, which, when not compromised due to injury or lack of oxygen, thickens during the menstrual cycle in preparation for possible implantation of an embryo.
Hyperbaric oxygen treatments oxygenate the organs and promote the growth of stem cells. This helps increase endometrium thickness and ripens the tissue for fertility in patients with a thinner, non-receptive endometrium. Hyperbaric oxygen also helps eliminate toxins from the body, which are greatly increased in patients with inadequate fertility responses.
According to an Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society case report illustrating the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for secondary infertility, there’s evidence hyperbaric oxygen may improve the condition of the endometrium for in-vitro fertization (IVF) implantation in women who may have uterine scarring causing chronic hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and/or an absence of the normal endometrial thickening during IVF treatments and natural menstrual cycles.
Theoretical reasons for the investigative use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in this case report for infertility treatment include (1) the improvement of tissue oxygenation from scarring and endometrial hypoxia and (2) the possible correction of reproductive hormone level abnormalities in patients who have experienced multiple miscarriages. It’s well documented that IVF implantation will usually only take place if the endometrium has reached a certain stage of vascularization and development which adjunctive hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help accomplish.
“Just as hyperbaric oxgyen therapy works to heal chronic wounds from the lack of oxygen, we believe it also can promote womb healing in infertility patients,” said Dr. Richard W. King, medical director, HyOx Medical Treatment Center. “By prescribing oxygen as a drug to starved, non-viable endometrial tissue and restoring its function and thickness for embryo implantation, we can enhance a fertility specialist’s protocol and increase the chances for a successful pregnancy with a healthier and thicker uterine wall.”
The quantitative guide to measure the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen treatment is the ability to use a trans-vaginal ultrasound with color Doppler features to measure the endometrial thickness after hyperbaric oxgyen treatment. It’s well documented that endometrial thickness is a predictor of an optimal outcome in IVF patients.
Another study indicated an excellent response by the endometrium after hyperbaric oxygen treatments were administered. It states “if endometrial receptivity is conditioned by adequate vascularization and oxgyenation, then hyperbaric oxgyen therapy is the treatment of choice.” An implantation failure factor includes the quality of blood flow to the endometrial tissue lining the uterus. The power of hyperbaric oxygen as a drug on tissues and cells, especially those devoid or lacking adequate oxygen, is well-documented.
Male Infertility Factor and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Not only does hyperbaric oxygen therapy improve the production and development of mature sperm by increasing male genital microcirculation, it also helps promote better sperm motility. Hyperbaric oxgyen therapy in patients with male factor infertility showed sperm samples exposed to oxygen under pressure had better motility which help in a better quality IVF treatment.
High tissue levels of oxygen, induced by hyperbaric oxygen treatments, stimulate growth of new blood vessels in poorly vascularized tissues, increasing motor activity of both sperm and the penis. This increases the blood flow to the penis, also improving sexual function in impotent men.
In a recent study designed to evaluate the effects of hyperbaric oxygen on sexual function and penile vascular bed (measured with a perfusion MRI) in non-surgical, chronic ED patients showed hyperbaric oxygen therapy improved erectile function in 88 percent of the men after 40 hyperbaric treatments.
Findings showed hyperbaic oxygen can “induce penile angiogenesis and improve erectile function in men suffering from chronic ED. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy reverses the basic common pathophysiology, atherosclerosis and decreased penile perfusion responsible for most cases of ED.”