Could Acupuncture Improve Your Fertility?

If you're trying to have a baby, acupuncture is one treatment you may never have considered to help increase your chances of conceiving.  The centuries-old Asian medical practice, in which sterile, ultra-thin needles are placed in various pressure points (or Qi, pronounced "chee" in the body), is believed to reduce stress and improve circulation. Acupuncture is thought to increase blood flow to the pelvic area, thus ensuring that the uterus has a thick, rich lining for a fertilized egg to implant, and it may have a beneficial effect on ovarian function as well, experts say.

It has been used for many centuries to treat certain causes of infertility and may be used with other fertility treatments. Note: it's not typically prescribed for endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.

The ancient art can be used with fertility procedures like intrauterine insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). A review of seven clinical trials of acupuncture for women undergoing IVF suggests that acupuncture increases the chance of a pregnancy, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the National Institutes of Health. The results of the review of studies are considered preliminary, and more clinical trials are needed to confirm the findings, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Some research appears to show that doing acupuncture about half an hour before and after IVF may increase the chance that the embryo will implant in the uterus successfully and that the chance of miscarriage may be reduced, according to a story in Fox News. It appears that the IVF drugs and procedures may be more effective when acupuncture is done once a week in the month or two before the start of IVF, and continued once or twice weekly throughout the whole cycle.

"There have been a few studies that say that acupuncture increases the pregnancy rate, yet some studies have not found that," says Jaou-Chen Huang, MD, professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT Health) Medical School. "The true answer is yet to be found."

But, he added, there is reason to believe that acupuncture could help since it may decrease a woman's stress level. "There is some solid, well-founded scientific data that shows that if appropriately administered, acupuncture is helpful for fertility," Huang says.

And, he adds, "The downside of acupuncture is really minimal. You only stand to gain, and you're not likely to sustain any kind of problem from acupuncture."


"Acupuncture shows promise in improving rates of pregnancy following IVF." 8 March 2008. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

"Acupuncture: a cure for infertility?"  26 April 2005. Fox News.,2933,154472,00.html

"Acupuncture for fertility." NYU Langone Medical Center. NYU Fertility Center.

"Treating infertility using acupuncture."  American Pregnancy Association.