How Does Fertility Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture is an Ancient Tool which has gained a significant amount of recognition from the scientific community as it has proved useful in improving success rates for pregnancy if used concurrently during Assisted Reproductive Techniques (In Vitro Fertilization-IVF, Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection -ICSI, and Intrauterine Insemination-IUI). Acupuncture is utilized at various stages of the procedure to help support the likelihood of success. During the controlled ovarian hyper stimulation phase Acupuncture is utilized to help optimize egg quality, egg development, improve hormone production and reduce the likelihood of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Acupuncture should be performed immediately before and after the transfer to help reduce uterine spasms, improve blood flow to the uterus, increase relaxation, and decrease stress. Lastly, acupuncture may be beneficial when performed during the implantation phase, a couple days after the transfer, to improve blood flow to the uterus and decrease uterine spasms, supporting implantation.
Fertility Acupuncture may also be used when trying to conceive naturally by helping to balance hormones, supporting ovulation and ovarian health, improving blood flow to the reproductive organs, supporting follicle development, balancing the immune system, and more.
Scientific Review on Fertility Acupuncture for IVF Success
Zheng et al  in a meta-analysis of 24 Clinical Trials found that the use of Acupuncture from the period of Controlled Ovarian Hypserstimulation up to the time of Oocyte Aspiration improved IVF results. The Clinical Pregnancy Rate was increased during IVF by an odds ratio of 1.34 (34% Increase in Likelihood of Pregnancy) and Live Birth Rates were improved by and odds ratio of 1.63 (63% Increase in Likelihood of giving Birth). Overall, the use of Traditional Needle Acupuncture (but not Laser Acupuncture, Acupressure, and other forms of Acupuncture) is found to show improvements IVF outcomes when correct and inert control groups are used in Clinical Trials.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many Acupuncture Treatments are Recommended?
A minimum of 6 sessions, and ideally 7-8 sessions is recommended during an IVF/ICSI/IUI cycle.
Do the Needles Hurt?
The sensation felt during Acupuncture Treatments can vary from a light pinch to a dull ache and rarely a transient pang that dissapears once the needle is in. An experienced Naturopath utilizes the best technique possible to minimize pain when inserting the needle.
Why Should I see a Naturopathic Doctor for Acupuncture?
Naturopathic Doctors are licensed Primary Health Care Providers in Ontario and are trained to utilize a combination of techniques to help fertility patients. Their 7-8 year Post-secondary education includes, but is not limited to, extensive training in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture as well as Botanical Medicine, Clinical Nutrition (Including Prescribing of Pharmaceutical strength nutritional supplements), Pharmacology, Healthy Diet & Lifestyle, Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment, and Medical Sciences. This allows them to offer a comprehensive treatment protocol that includes more than Acupuncture alone.
1. Zheng, C. H., Huang, G. Y., Zhang, M. M., & Wang, W. (2012, March). Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Fertility and Sterility, 97(3), 599-611.