Acupuncture & Fertility Research
Improve Blood Circulation to Ovaries and Uterus
Relieve Stress and Promote Relaxation
Manage Side Effects of ART Medications
Acupuncture is part of the ancient Chinese medical system that has evolved into an effective treatment with many modern
applications. In recent years, acupuncture has been used together with modern Assisted Reproductive Medicine, and there are many studies that show how it affects outcomes. Study conclusions vary [i], but the take-home message is that best results from acupuncture with InVitro Fertilization treatment are seen with early preparation and regular treatment that includes Chinese nutrition and lifestyle advice. Studies also agree that acupuncture provides an increased sense of well-being for patients undergoing western medical fertility treatment.
Acupuncture in conjunction with IVF became popular after a 2002 research study reported that receiving acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer increased the rate of pregnancy by 50%[ii]. This protocol consists of two acupuncture treatments, one immediately preceding the embryo transfer, and one upon completion of the transfer. The treatment stimulates the autonomic nervous system, relaxes the muscles of the uterus, calms the mind, and increases the flow of energy and blood in the uterus and ovaries[iii][iv].
Studies show a correlation between increased levels of stress and a lower number of fertilized eggs, successful pregnancies, and live births[v]. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins[vi] the body’s natural pain relief hormones, and regulates the nervous system to reduce the “fight or flight” response and relieve anxiety.
Acupuncture has also been found to help regulate hormones, and can stimulate follicular development[vii]. Other studies show that acupuncture can increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, increase uterine lining thickness, and may improve the response to the IVF medications.
In a 2015 study of IVF patients [viii], an average of 14 acupuncture sessions (including the two sessions on the day of embryo transfer and an additional session 5-7 days after transfer) was associated with more live births and fewer biochemical pregnancies. This study, involving 1,069 women who did acupuncture while undergoing IVF, found that acupuncture for IVF significantly increases the chances of live birth when used during an IVF cycle when compared to those who did IVF alone. Those who received an average of 12 acupuncture treatments in addition to the acupuncture treatments on the day of embryo transfer were significantly more likely to get pregnant and deliver a baby than those who did the IVF process without any additional acupuncture, 61.3% vs 48.1%, respectively. Acupuncture pre-treatment was also superior to acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer alone, 61.3% vs 50.8%, respectively.
Hence, research has shown that acupuncture and Chinese medical counseling on diet and lifestyle during your fertility treatment can help you feel well, and may increase your chances of success. At ICRM, you may begin this treatment as soon as you know you will be planning an IUI or IVF cycle, and continue through your entire cycle for best results. Or you may choose to do acupuncture on the day of your transfer only.
For further information on research, or on the acupuncture process at ICRM, contact the acupuncturist or your ICRM case manager.
Naomi Jankowitz, LAc, MSOM email@example.com & 208.860.4278
[i] Xie, Zheng-yun & Peng, Zhi-hang & Yao, Bing & Chen, Li & Mu, Yan-yun & Cheng, Jie & Li, Qian & Luo, Xi & Yang, Peng-yan & Xia, You-bing. (2019). The effects of acupuncture on pregnancy outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 19. 10.1186/s12906-019-2523-7.
[ii] Paulus, WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K..Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertil Steril. 2002 Apr;77(4):721-4.
[iii] Patton PE, Eaton D, Burry KA, Wolf DP. The use of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist to regulate oocyte retrieval time. Fertil Steril. 1990; 54:652-655.
[iv] Stener-Victorin E, Waldenstrom U, Andersson SA, Wikland M. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Hum Reprod. 1996;11:1314-1317.
[v] Cohen Klonoff-Cohen H, Natarajan L. The concerns during assisted reproductive technologies (CART) scale and pregnancy outcomesFertil Steril. 2004 Apr;81(4):982-8.
[vi] Chang, R., Chung P.H., Rosenwaks Z. Fertil Steril. 2002 Dec; 78 (6): 1149-1153.
[vii] Emmons, S., Patton, P. Acupuncture treatment for infertile women undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Medical Acupuncture Journal. Spring/Summer 2000-Vol. 12 / Number 2.
[viii]Reprod Biomed Online. 2015 Jun;30(6):602-12. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2015.02.005. Epub 2015 Feb 24.
[ix]A pilot study evaluating the combination of acupuncture with sildenafil on endometrial thickness
Yu W et.al. Presented at the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society Annual Conference 2007