Posted on September 15, 2023
Acupuncture for fertility is becoming increasingly popular with individuals and couples struggling with infertility. Acupuncture aims to enhance reproductive health by regulating hormonal balance, reducing stress, and improving blood circulation to the reproductive organs.
Many individuals turn to acupuncture as a natural and non-invasive way to support their fertility journey. This is either as a standalone treatment, or in conjunction with assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF). With its potential to improve fertility outcomes and overall well-being, acupuncture offers a promising avenue for those seeking to achieve their dream of starting or expanding their family.
In the UK, a range of common fertility issues affects many couples trying to conceive.
Unexplained infertility accounts for approximately 25% of cases, where no specific cause can be identified despite extensive testing.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is another widespread condition, affecting about 20% of women of reproductive age and often leading to irregular ovulation.
Male factor infertility is also significant. This contributes to roughly 30-40% of all fertility problems, with issues such as low sperm count and poor sperm motility.
Endometriosis affects around 10% of women and can lead to pelvic inflammation, scarring, and fertility challenges.
Acupuncture offers several potential benefits for fertility, making it an attractive option for individuals and couples struggling to conceive:
Regulates hormonal imbalances, promoting a more regular menstrual cycle and improving ovulatory function, which is crucial for conception.
Reduces stress and anxiety levels, both of which can adversely affect fertility by disrupting hormone production and menstrual regularity.
enhances blood flow to the reproductive organs, which can improve the quality of the uterine lining and increase the chances of successful implantation.
Enhances the effectiveness of assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), by optimising the body’s response to fertility treatments.
While individual results may vary, these combined benefits make acupuncture a valuable adjunctive therapy for those wanting to increase their chances of achieving a successful pregnancy.
When used in conjunction with Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) like in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI), acupuncture can be a valuable complementary therapy for individuals and couples facing fertility challenges.
Research suggests that acupuncture may enhance the success rates of ART procedures by improving blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, optimizing the response to fertility medications, and reducing stress and anxiety associated with fertility treatments.
Many individuals choose to incorporate acupuncture into their ART protocols, receiving sessions before and after key procedures such as embryo transfer. This combination of modern medical interventions with traditional acupuncture techniques offers a holistic approach to fertility enhancement, potentially increasing the likelihood of a successful pregnancy while also providing emotional and physical support during the often stressful journey of assisted reproduction.
A recent study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has shown that acupuncture may increase the success rate of implantation and pregnancy during IVF by as much as 65%.
The BAcC also provides more information on research into acupuncture and ART.
Lifestyle and diet play crucial roles in maximising the benefits of acupuncture for fertility.
Diet and exercise: Eating a balanced diet and regular exercise is an essential first step towards pregnancy. Incorporating nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, can help support overall reproductive health. Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake while quitting smoking can also have a positive impact on fertility.
Stress: Stress management techniques, including yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises, can complement acupuncture’s stress-reduction effects.
Sleep: Moreover, getting adequate sleep and staying hydrated are essential for optimal reproductive function.
Start as soon as you can, ideally giving yourself at least three-months of regular treatment before starting any assisted fertility treatment. This is especially the case for men as it takes up to 90 days for sperm to mature so you won’t experience the full benefits prior to that.
Frequency of treatment will always depend on individual circumstances but in general, I recommend weekly acupuncture sessions for the first cycle, moving to every two-weeks after that to coincide with day 2-3 and day 15 of your cycle.
If applicable, I time treatment specifically around assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures such as IVF or IUI. These more frequent sessions are typically designed to optimize hormone balance, improve uterine blood flow, and reduce stress in preparation for conception. After successful implantation, the frequency of treatments may decrease but is often continued throughout the first trimester to support a healthy pregnancy. Ultimately, I will tailor the treatment to your specific fertility challenges and goals.
But remember, some acupuncture is better than none so start as soon as you can and come as often as you can.
Want to know more? Then why not book in a free 30-minute telephone consultation to see how acupuncture can help you with your fertility journey.