Acupuncture for Fertility: Does It Work?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of traditional Chinese medicine, and it was practiced as far back as 2500 years ago. In general, acupuncture is based on the idea that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) in the body that are essential for health. When these patterns are disrupted, it’s believed that it can cause illness or disease. Acupuncture involves placing thin needles in specific spots on the body to correct imbalances in energy flow, with the goal of stimulating the body to heal naturally and function better. Acupuncture can improve general health and natural healing and treat injuries and illnesses.
Research suggests that acupuncture also may enhance fertility treatment. With acupuncture infertility treatment, women’s chances of getting pregnant increased by 65 percent. This therapy also may help with other pregnancy and reproductive problems.
A complementary reproductive therapy
Acupuncture is an effective form of assisted reproductive technology (ART). Also known as fertility treatments, ART is used with procedures like artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy to help couples get pregnant.
Besides being safe and effective, acupuncture can be used effectively with other ART procedures. This usually involves the blending of modern medicine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, which involves using supplements and various mind and body practices to treat or prevent health problems.
How acupuncture helps with fertility
With acupuncture infertility treatment, needles are inserted in a woman’s body to connect with certain areas in the pelvis such as the uterus or ovaries. Stimulating these areas improves reproductive health. But, it also boosts blood flow to the lining of the uterus, which makes pregnancy healthier for women. Women were more likely to get pregnant when they had acupuncture infertility treatment within one day of embryo (fertilized egg) transfer during IVF, than women who did not receive it.
In addition, acupuncture causes the body to release natural opioids (pain relievers) within the brain and spinal area. This assists in regulating hormones and other body systems. But, it can result in relaxation and stress relief and a reduction in the anxiety and depression that can accompany infertility issues, as well.
Effective treatment for other reproductive conditions
Acupuncture encourages the restoration of body systems. And beyond fertility, it can be used to treat other related conditions, including:
- Fibroids: Non-cancerous tumors that grow on the inside or outside of the uterus
- Endometriosis: A condition in which the tissue that usually lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it causing pain and heavy bleeding
- Amenorrhea: The absence of menstruation
- Dysmenorrhea: Painful menstruation, typically involving cramping
- Pelvic inflammatory disease: An inflammatory infection that affects the pelvis, ovaries and uterus
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): A hormone disorder that causes ovarian cysts, facial hair growth, acne and weight gain
- Tubal spasm: Occurs when the fallopian tubes’ muscles contract, blocking the tubes
- Recurrent miscarriage and infertility with an unknown cause
- Male factor infertility issues
- High follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels: Hormones help maintain menstrual cycles. They’re responsible for the growth of ovarian follicles. The follicles produce the female hormones called estrogen and progesterone. Women with high FSH levels may have fewer high-quality embryos and eggs for fertilization, ovarian problems, genetic problems, PCOS and menopause.
Updated April 10, 2017