Light therapy uses either red light, near infrared light, or a combination of both. The ideal type of light for a specific purpose varies based on the part of the body.
When looking at female fertility specifically, the primary targets are the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and general hormonal systems (thyroid, brain, etc.). All of these tissues are inside the body (unlike male reproductive parts), and so the type of light with the best penetration is necessary, as only a small percentage of the light hitting the skin will penetrate down into tissues like ovaries. Even with the wavelength that gives the optimal penetration, the amount that penetrates is still very small, and so a very high intensity of light is required as well.
Near infrared light at wavelengths between 720nm and 840nm have the best penetration into biological tissue. This range of light is known as the ‘Near Infrared Window (into biological tissue)” because of the unique properties of passing deep into the body. Researchers looking at improving female infertility with light have overwhelmingly selected the 830nm near infrared wavelength for study(1-6). This 830nm wavelength not only penetrates well, but also has potent effects on our cells, improving their function.
The protocol used in this study from Denmark(7) involved 3 near infrared light therapy sessions per week, with the light being directly applied to the abdomen, at quite a large dose. If the woman did not conceive during the current menstrual cycle, treatments continued into the next. Out of a sample of 400 previously infertile women, a whopping 260 of them were able to conceive following near infrared light treatments. Declining egg quality is not an irreversible process, it would seem. This research raises questions over the ART process of removing a woman’s egg nucleus and inserting it into the egg cells of a donor (known as mitochondrial transfer, or 3-person/parent babies) – is it really necessary when a woman’s own egg cells can be potentially restored with a non-invasive therapy.
Using light therapy directly on the abdomen (to target the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, egg cells, etc.) is thought to work in 2 ways. Firstly is optimizes the environment of the reproductive system, ensuring egg cells are released during ovulation, can travel down the fallopian tubes, and can implant into a healthy uterus wall with good blood flow, a healthy placenta can form, etc. The other mechanism involves improving the health of the egg cell directly. Oocyte cells, or egg cells, require huge amounts of energy compared to other cells for the processes related to cell division and growth. This energy is provided by mitochondria – the part of a cell affected by light therapy. Declining mitochondrial function can be seen as the key cellular cause of infertility(8). This may be the key explanation for most cases of ‘unexplained’ fertility and why fertility declines with advancing age – the egg cells just can’t make enough energy. Evidence that they require and use so much more energy is found by the fact that there are 200 times more mitochondria in egg cells when compared to other regular cells. That’s 200 times more potential for effects and benefits from light therapy relative to other cells in the body. Of every cell in the entire human body, male or female, the egg cell may be the type that receives the most drastic enhancements from red and near infrared light therapy.