By Cristina Mestre Ferrer BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 04/15/2014

Acupuncture is a characteristic procedure of traditional Chinese medicine and through this technique many illnesses are treated and prevented. In the past, this technique has had a positive effect when treating male and female infertility, so many clinics recommend their patients to undergo an acupuncture treatment at some stage during the fertility treatment.

The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture consists of a series of actions where very thin needles are used to stimulate certain points on the body, such as the skin of the head, wrists, feet, legs and abdomen in order to improve the flow and the balance of the vital energy.

On many occasions have acupuncture and fertility been related to each other. For this reason, it has been proved that acupuncture has been really useful when treating functional infertility caused by the irregular function of the menstrual cycle, for example. However, that is not the case when the cause of infertility is structural.

Acupuncture and fertility

How can acupuncture help with infertility?

According to experts in acupuncture, infertility caused by functional reasons are the result of a ‘Qi’ blockage in the liver, also known as biliary congestion, which affects the blood flow to the pelvic cavity leading to problems with the embryo implantation and the development of the pregnancy.

It could be said that, perhaps, acupuncture helps the blood flow to get to the pelvic cavity and improves the ovarian function. In this way the there is a stimulation in the production of follicles and a thickening in the endometrial lining. Furthermore, it has been proved that the acupuncture sessions help to reduce the stress level, which is a very important factor that can have a negative effect on reproduction.

All these factors make acupuncture a secondary treatment that can be of some help if it is applied when undergoing a fertility treatment because it may regulate the hormones, stimulate the endometrium and prepare the patient for the embryo transfer.

Acupuncture and male fertility

It is more and more frequent nowadays that couples experiencing problems to conceive a child turn to the assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Acupuncture is usually presented as another helpful tool to make these assisted reproductive procedures to be successful. According to the American Pregnancy Association, more than 3 million of couples suffer from infertility.

Despite the fact that the aforemetioned study is focused on female infertility, acupuncture can also be applied in those cases of male infertility. As it has already been mentioned, the acupuncture technique can impove the blood flow in our body and channel that vital energy to the parts where there is a problem. For this reason, this process is as acceptable for women as for men.

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Authors and contributors

 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
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