What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture for Fertility?

By BSc, MSc (embryologist), MD, PhD (gynecologist), BSc, MSc (embryologist), BSc, MSc (embryologist) and (invitra staff).
Last Update: 02/05/2019

Acupuncture is a characteristic procedure of traditional Chinese medicine through which many diseases are treated and prevented.

In patients suffering from infertility, it has been seen that combining acupuncture with assisted reproductive treatments can help achieve pregnancy.

Specifically, acupuncture provides benefits in cases of functional sterility, such as anovulation, endometriosis, implantation failure or other hormonal disorders.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Oriental technique that is based on the circulation throughout the body of vital energy or "chi", which flows through channels called meridians.

Thanks to the insertion of fine needles in certain points of the body, such as the skin of the head, wrists, feet, legs and abdomen, acupuncture is able to eliminate energy accumulations and improve their flow through the meridian system. Chi liberation is what we call this.

In conclusion, acupuncture aims to restore the flow and balance of the body's vital energy, thereby boosting its natural healing capacity.

What is an acupuncture session like?

An acupuncture session lasts about 45 minutes.

First, the acupuncturist makes a diagnosis and then inserts about 5-10 needles into the patient's body, which remains lying down and relaxed.

The acupuncture needles are very thin, single-use and sterilized, so the patient has no risk of infection.

These needles remain inserted for about 30 minutes, but are painless because they are inserted at a very superficial level of the skin, between 1 and 3 mm.

Needles are usually used cold, although they can also be heated.

Benefits for the body

Acupuncture therapy is designed to stimulate the central nervous system, so used to relieve multiple disorders.

Between its many benefits, doctors point out that acupuncture:

  • Improves blood and lymphatic flow
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Provides energy to the body
  • Helps eliminate toxins
  • Boosts hormone production and regulation
  • Increases endorphin production, decreasing stress and anxiety
  • Helps relax the body and mind

That is why acupuncture is a good complementary treatment for both physical and emotional problems. In addition, its only side effects are a feeling of calm and deep relaxation.

How can acupuncture help with infertility?

Although no scientific evidence exists that acupuncture increases pregnancy rates in infertile patients, it is true that it can provide additional benefit and improve the efficacy of assisted reproductive treatments when used as adjuvant therapy.

More specifically, the following are indications for attending acupuncture sessions while a couple is in fertility treatment::

Clearly, acupuncture will not cure structural problems such as polyps, uterine malformations, or blocked fallopian tubes, among others.

Where indicated, specialists recommend starting acupuncture sessions about 3 months before fertility treatment to improve reproductive prognostics.

Acupuncture and female fertility

As mentioned above, traditional Chinese medicine has multiple benefits on the body thanks to the release of universal energy and its liberation by all meridians of the body.

In terms of restoring female fertility, micropuncture with acupuncture needles has the following positive effects on a woman's body:

Stabilization of hormone levels
so that menstrual cycles are more regular and spontaneous ovulation can take place.
Increased blood flow to the pelvic organs
this improves blood supply to the uterus, which improves the receptivity of the endometrium and facilitates embryo implantation. Some experts say that performing an acupuncture session before and after the embryo transfer helps prepare the womb and achieve pregnancy.
Decreased Side Effects
the hormonal medication used in ovarian stimulation causes adverse effects such as abdominal swelling, headache, etc. which can be very uncomfortable for women. Acupuncture helps to reduce inflammation, eliminate toxins and increase body well-being.
Reduction of stress levels
not getting pregnant, the costs of treatments and the assisted reproduction technique used are factors that produce anxiety and fear of failure, reducing the chances of conception by stress itself. Acupuncture manages to reduce these levels of stress and anxiety, generating a positive environment much more conducive to achieving gestation.

Due to all these benefits that acupuncture brings to fertility, many assisted reproduction clinics already include a specialized unit of this millenary technique.

Assisted procreation, as any other medical treatment, requires that you rely on the professionalism of the doctors and staff of the clinic you choose. Obviously, each clinic is different. Get now your Fertility Report, which will select several clinics for you out of the pool of clinics that meet our strict quality criteria. Moreover, it will offer you a comparison between the fees and conditions each clinic offers in order for you to make a well informed choice.

Acupuncture and male fertility

Acupuncture also provides benefits on men's fertility.

Since it helps stabilize hormone levels, acupuncture contributes to the stimulation of spermatogenesis, the process of sperm formation.

Thus, men with oligozoospermia or any other sperm alteration may benefit from acupuncture and improve their seminal quality.

Acupuncture improves the concentration and mobility of sperm, increasing the chances of achieving pregnancy.

On the other hand, acupuncture also helps reduce oxidative stress levels in men, which results in DNA fragmentation and irreparable damage to sperm.

Dr Juan Carlos Castillo about acupuncture & Fertility Treatment

In this interview, Dr Juan Carlos Castillo discusses the effects of acupuncture on assisted reproduction treatments.

We know that Assisted reproduction techniques generate a lot of stress in patients, especially during the egg collection and then during the embryo implantation. Studies have shown that performing acupuncture sessions at these specific times significantly improves women's predisposition to perform these operations by reducing body tension.
[...] Acupuncture can also be beneficial for men, in fact, it benefits anyone who enters into assisted reproduction treatment.

FAQs from users

Does acupuncture cure oligospermia?

By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Some research claims that acupuncture may be beneficial in treating infertility in men with low sperm count, especially in cases of idiopathic oligospermia where the cause is not known.

Is it possible to have acupuncture sessions during pregnancy?

By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes, acupuncture is not dangerous for gestation. However, it is necessary to use a specialist in this area to know which are the exact points to treat, since the insertion of needles in some specific points of the abdominal area could stimulate contractions in the uterus and induce labor.

Is acupuncture effective for the treatment of endometriosis?

By Sarai Arrones BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Acupuncture helps regulate hormonal imbalances and relieve pain. According to some experts, acupuncture, accompanied by phytotherapy (medicinal plants) and dietary supplements, is very useful for treating endometriosis naturally.

Suggested for you

If you want to learn more about the types of female infertility that exist and which would be the most appropriate treatment for each of them, you can continue reading in the following post: What Causes Female Infertility?

On the other hand, you will find all the problems that cause male sterility in the following article: What Causes Male Infertility?

Our editors have made great efforts to create this content for you. By sharing this post, you are helping us to keep ourselves motivated to work even harder.

References

Anderson B, Rosenthal L. Acupuncture and in vitro fertilization: critique of the evidence and application to clinical practice. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013 Feb;19(1):1-5.

Lim CE, Ng RW, Xu K, Cheng NC, Xue CC, Liu JP, Chen N. Acupuncture for polycystic ovarian syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 May 3;(5):CD007689.

Nandi A, Shah A, Gudi A, Homburg R. Acupuncture in IVF: A review of current literature. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2014 Oct;34(7):555-61.

Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS). Estrategia de la OMS sobre medicina tradicional 2002–2005. (ver)

Zhou W, Benharash P. Effects and mechanisms of acupuncture based on the principle of meridians. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2014 Aug;7(4):190-3.

Zhu J, Arsovska B, Kozovska K. Acupuncture Treatment for Fertility. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2018 Sep 19;6(9):1685-1687

Video in Spanish from Dr Juan Carlos Castillo about benefits of acupuncture during fertility treatment: here.

FAQs from users: 'Does acupuncture cure oligospermia?', 'Is it possible to have acupuncture sessions during pregnancy?' and 'Is acupuncture effective for the treatment of endometriosis?'.

Read more

Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
Cristina Mestre Ferrer
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information about Cristina Mestre Ferrer
 Juan Carlos Castillo
Juan Carlos Castillo
MD, PhD
Gynecologist
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine and Surgery, with specialty in Gynecology and Obstetrics. Master's Degree in Human Reproduction and PhD in Medicine from the University of Valencia with a distinction cum laude. Since 2013, he is part of the medical team of Instituto Bernabeu Group, and one of the specialists that takes care of international patients. More information about Juan Carlos Castillo
License: 034620564
 Sarai Arrones
Sarai Arrones
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biomedicine and Biomedical Sciences from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Specialist Training Course of gamete, embryo, and animal tissue cryopreservation. Embryologist specializing in the field of Assisted Procreation. More information about Sarai Arrones
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Marie Tusseau
Marie Tusseau
inviTRA Staff
Editorial Director of Babygest magazine in French and English More information about Marie Tusseau

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