Acupuncture for Fertility: Does it Work for Getting Pregnant?

One treatment that may help with improving fertility is acupuncture. Discover what studies have shown about the effectiveness of acupuncture for infertility.

The Promescent Team
Hands on, practical experience – this is our expertise
by The Promescent Team Last updated 12/11/2023
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Infertility is a fairly widespread problem, and in the US alone, nearly 20% of women experience infertility while trying to get pregnant.

In clinical terms, infertility is defined as being unable to get pregnant within one year of trying.

Quick FAQs

Studies have shown that long-term acupuncture treatment helps women have higher live birth rates.

While there's no specific time to start treatment, it may be best to begin when you've decided to get pregnant or received an infertility diagnosis.

A majority of research has shown that acupuncture is generally safe for pregnant women. The main side effect that may be experienced is needling pain.

However, there are treatments that can help. While in vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the more well known procedures, research has shown that acupuncture can be surprisingly helpful for increasing fertility.

In this guide, we’ll look at how acupuncture can increase fertility, along with its many other benefits from improving embryo transfer success rates to reducing other ailments that can lead to infertility.

Does Acupuncture Work for Fertility?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been around for nearly 2,500 years, and it's a practice where thin needles are placed carefully in the skin to help resolve a number of ailments.

In theory, these needles can help to stimulate blood flow into the affected areas, and they may also release endorphins throughout the body to aid in pain relief or to provide a temporary euphoric sensation.

Research has shown that acupuncture may help to relieve:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Arthritis pain
  • Migraines
  • Sciatica nerve pain
  • Inflammation
  • Chronic pain

Research has also shown that acupuncture and fertility have a strong connection, and that it can be very beneficial for those struggling with infertility.

Large-scale studies have shown that women who have regular acupuncture sessions for increased fertility have higher live birth rates than those who do not.

Researchers also found that those using electroacupuncture, which has micro-electric currents running through the needles at a rate of 2/100 Hz, had the highest live birth rate of all studied groups. 

Electroacupuncture was also noted as a method that could highly improve the outcomes of embryo transfer during in vitro fertilization (IVF) as well. 

So how does acupuncture help fertility? For now, researchers are not able to concretely state why acupuncture works for fertility.

During the treatment, an acupuncturist will place needles on the stomach and close to the reproductive organs, which are considered acupuncture points for fertility. Various needles may also be placed on the arms, shoulders, and other spots depending on the treatment.

While patients may feel a slight pinch at times, the treatment itself is not supposed to be painful. In fact, it's designed to be relaxing and peaceful.

Some of the potential benefits of acupuncture for fertility include:

  • Regulating the menstrual cycle
  • Increasing blood flow towards reproductive organs
  • Stress-relief
  • Mood improvement

Acupuncture may also help with certain ailments that can lead to infertility, such as:

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Ovulation difficulties

When to Do Acupuncture for Fertility

Many acupuncturists recommend starting acupuncture treatment at least three months before you wish to conceive.

While there's no concrete, scientific timeframe, it's likely best to start acupuncture to get pregnant when you:

  • Decide to get pregnant
  • Receive an infertility diagnosis
  • Begin a separate, concurrent treatment for infertility

As some studies have shown, more acupuncture treatments correlated with more successful birth rates, with some people receiving three or more treatments a week. However, even fewer total treatments still showed benefits overall.

Is it Safe to Do Acupuncture While Pregnant?

Research has shown that acupuncture in pregnancy is generally safe for women. In this analysis of 105 studies, researchers found that the main side effect of having acupuncture and pregnancy at the same time is simply needling pain. 

This side effect is a standard and common occurrence during any sort of acupuncture treatment.

If the needling pain persists or becomes too uncomfortable, you may be advised to stop or limit your treatments. Of course, always speak with your doctor before trying acupuncture or other treatments while pregnant.

Along with being relatively safe, getting acupuncture while pregnant may have some great benefits, including:

  • Stress Reduction
  • Insomnia Relief
  • Nausea Relief
  • Reduced Pain and Inflammation

Acupuncture for Embryo Transfer

Embryo transfer is the final step of in vitro fertilization (IVF) which can help women to have a successful pregnancy. During this process, a fertilized egg (embryo) is placed into a woman’s uterus through a catheter, where it can then develop fully during the pregnancy.

Researchers have found that acupuncture for egg quality can greatly benefit an embryo transfer during IVF, although only when done before the transfer takes place.

In a study, it was concluded that women who had acupuncture 25 minutes before an embryo transfer had a higher chance of success than those who did not. In comparison, those who had acupuncture immediately after the embryo transfer had no noticeable increase in success.

Even outside of the studied 25-minute window, the researchers theorized that multiple acupuncture treatments before an embryo transfer can help by:

  • Increasing blood flow throughout the region
  • Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Improving the immune system
  • Reducing uterine motility (or contractions that lead to discharge)

With these apparent benefits, plus no noted contradictions, acupuncture for implantation may be a great option for those undergoing IVF.

Benefits of Acupuncture for Women

Acupuncture has a number of well-researched benefits for women, and some of these more generalized benefits may even aid in fertility as well.

Some acupuncture benefits specifically for women include:

  • Reduced Menstrual Pain
  • Menstrual Regulation
  • Potential Hormone Regulation
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Symptom Reduction

Beyond these female-specific benefits, acupuncture has also been shown to potentially help with:

  • Migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Depression, Stress, and Anxiety
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Seasonal Allergies
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Postoperative Pain

Many of these conditions may cause infertility if left untreated. Stress, anxiety, and depression have all been shown to lead to higher infertility rates in women. 

Researchers believe this is likely due to the hormonal effect that long-term stress has on the body. Since acupuncture has an often profound effect on stress reduction, it may help to balance out hormones and lead to higher fertility rates as well.

In some cases, supplements may also work alongside acupuncture to increase fertility rates and improve reproductive functioning in women. 

Supplements like Fertility Support for Her utilize high-quality and well-researched ingredients that may aid in women's reproductive health. However, it’s always important to talk with your doctor before trying any new treatments. 

What to Wear for Acupuncture

It’s best to wear loose-fitting clothing for any acupuncture session so that the needles can be left in place without interference.

In many cases, acupuncture for fertility will require needles to be placed around your midsection and groin. To stay comfortable and prevent interference, choose clothing that can be pulled up easily without getting too tight.

In some cases, your acupuncturist may recommend treatment elsewhere to address related problems, such as stress or insomnia. To allow more spontaneity during your session, try to wear clothing that can be removed or changed easily so that you can remain comfortable without interfering with the session.

Most of the time, a loose tank top or shirt and a loose pair of shorts will be perfect for any acupuncture session.

Takeaways

Infertility is a fairly common problem, with nearly 1 in 5 women experiencing it at some point when trying to get pregnant.

However, acupuncture may be a great aid in increasing fertility and encouraging a healthy pregnancy.

Research has also shown that it can potentially help with other fertility treatments, such as embryo transfer.

Additionally, studies suggest it might be effective for reducing stress, anxiety, and other conditions that can cause fertility issues.

Remember to always talk with your doctor before trying acupuncture or any other treatments to ensure you have the safest and highest-quality care.

The Promescent Team

The Promescent Team

Our team has over a decade of experience in the sexual wellness field and are experts in sexual dysfunctions, like premature ejaculation. We help couples and individuals better understand treatment options available for different types of sexual needs and educate the public on all things related to intimacy. All of our authored content is medically reviewed for accuracy and reliability.

Sources:

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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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