Acupuncture has gained an increased interest and popularity recently as a method of supporting natural fertility and as a gentle therapy with a low side effect profile.
Let’s be real for a second: acupuncture is NOT a magical cure for infertility. This unfortunately doesn’t exist. Acupuncture is however beneficial at increasing the rates of pregnancy and live births, and numerous clinical studies have shown this.
How it works is that acupuncture helps remove the obstacles that might be preventing someone from conceiving and holding a viable pregnancy. It helps you bring your body in balance and restores a healthy state of being. Because it works on all levels to ensure that everything is functioning well it means that acupuncture will not only be used to support fertility and regulate cycles, but may be used to support sleep, digestion, decrease stress and anxiety, and much more!
Some of the benefits of acupuncture include:
- Helps regulate menstrual cycles
- Improves quality of the lining of the uterus
- Increases blood flow to the pelvic organs
- Relieves side effects of fertility medications
- Helps maintain a healthy pregnancy
- Reduces stress and anxiety associated with infertility
- Releases natural endorphins to increase feeling of wellbeing.
Another benefit of acupuncture is that it allows you to come in for a treatment during which we get to chat and continue working on optimizing fertility through other means such as nutrition, supplements, herbs. In addition, most extended health benefits cover acupuncture treatments for fertility.
Evidence for Acupuncture and IVF
Research looking at the effects of acupuncture on the outcomes of IVF found that women receiving acupuncture treatment immediately before and after embryo transfers and 2 days later had 20% more success than women who did not receive treatment.
A typical acupuncture schedule depends on many factors and every person’s treatment plan will be individualized to their needs. Generally speaking, acupuncture treatments would happen:
- 1-2 times per week before IVF/IUI cycle
- within 24 hours before egg retrieval
- directly before embryo transfer (same day)
- directly after embryo transfer (same day)
- 2 days after embryo transfer
Paulus WE. et al. “Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy”. Fertil Steril. 2002; 77(4): 721-724. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11937123
Westergaard LG et al. “Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial”. Fertil Steril 2006; 85(5): 1341-1346. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16600232