Updated: May 11
Struggling with fertility? Discover how acupuncture can help to Overcome Infertility Challenges and Enhance Your Reproductive Health.
As a fertility acupuncturist, I have seen firsthand the positive impact that acupuncture can have on fertility. I have had the privilege of supporting many couples and individuals in their unique fertility journeys. Acupuncture is a safe, natural, and effective way to support the body's natural fertility function, and it can be used alone or in combination with other fertility treatments.
If you're struggling with fertility, you may be wondering how acupuncture can help. Here are some of the ways that acupuncture can support your fertility naturally:
1. Regulating Fertility Hormones
Acupuncture can help regulate the hormones that are essential for ovulation and fertility. It does this by stimulating the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis (HPA). By stimulating the HPA axis, acupuncture may help regulate the levels of hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH), estrogen, and progesterone, all of which play important roles in the menstrual cycle and fertility. By balancing these hormones, acupuncture can help improve the quality and regularity of your menstrual cycles.
According to a 2022 review, clinical research shows in patients with PCOS, acupuncture can help control hormone levels, enhance ovulation, and reduce insulin resistance. Acupuncture may also influence the production of β-endorphin, which could stimulate the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone and subsequently impact fertility, menstrual cycle, and ovulation.
2. Improving Blood Flow
Blood flow plays a crucial role in fertility as it ensures the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to reproductive organs. Adequate blood flow to the uterus and ovaries is necessary for healthy reproductive function. Poor blood flow can result in a variety of fertility issues such as egg quality.
Acupuncture can help improve blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, which can enhance follicular and endometrial development, and increase the chances of successful fertilisation.
3. Reducing Stress
It's completely understandable that trying for a baby and facing fertility struggles can be incredibly stressful in itself. Acupuncture can play a role in managing stress levels to improve both the negative experience of stress and treatment outcomes. The negative impact of stress on fertility can cause hormonal imbalances, including suppressing fertility hormones and elevating hormones such as Follicle stiumating hormone (FSH), stress can also lead to reduced blood flow to reproductive organs.
Acupuncture offers a potential solution by regulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which governs vital functions such as digestion, heart rate, and reproduction. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest, digest and procreate) can reduce stress and anxiety, whereas the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the "fight or flight" response, can interfere with reproductive health by redirecting resources away from non-essential functions.
4. Male factor infertility
Research shows promise for supporting sperm health with acupuncture, however it’s important to acknowledge that this will greatly depend on the individual presentation and the underlying cause. In 2005, a study showed that acupuncture could be helpful in treating male infertility with no known cause. The study revealed a noticeable enhancement in sperm quality, particularly in the ultrastructural integrity of spermatozoa, after receiving acupuncture twice weekly for 5 weeks.
A 2002 study demonstrated that Acupuncture can improve sperm quality and fertilisation rates in assisted reproductive technology. A 2022 literature review concluded that existing literature demonstrated that acupuncture can effectively treat male infertility.
In a casestudy of severe oligoasthenoteratozoospermia, acupuncture improved motility from 25% to 33% after 2 sessions and then to 67% after the first and second serial therapies, concluding acupuncture with medication improves male fertility, especially sperm motility.
5. Supporting IVF and Other Fertility Treatments
By having acupuncture in the 3 months before the treatment cycle, research demonstrates that you can enhance their effectiveness and improve your chances of conceiving.
According to a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis conducted in 2018, acupuncture has demonstrated a significant treatment impact on live birth rates, suggesting that it may serve as a complement to an IVF or ICSI cycle for sub-fertile women. The study examined the effects of acupuncture on women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) who were experiencing sub-fertility.
A 2022 randomised control trial concluded that Electroacupuncture improves the endometrial receptivity and IVF-ET pregnancy outcomes in the patients of diminished ovarian reserve.
It’s important to note that the research is most supportive of acupuncture when used in the months prior to treatment cycle.
6. Acupuncture can support overall health and well-being
Acupuncture can support overall health by strengthening the immune system, improving sleep, digestion, and promoting relaxation, which can all contribute to optimal fertility.
How do I find a fertility acupuncturist?
Finding a qualified acupuncturist can be challenging, but it's essential to work with someone who has experience and adequate training in fertility acupuncture. Here are some tips for finding a qualified acupuncturist:
Fertility Support trained experts, not only have a degree-level education and training in acupuncture but also hold a postgraduate advanced diploma in fertility acupuncture. They also have a minimum of 5 years of experience in the field and have a commitment to fertility CPD.
The Acupuncture Fertility Network is also a great register for licensed acupuncturists specialising in fertility
Look for someone who is licensed and certified by the The British Acupuncture council
Ask the acupuncturist about their experience and training in acupuncture as well as fertility acupuncture.
What to Expect During an Acupuncture Session
During an acupuncture session, your acupuncturist will insert fine, sterile needles into specific points on your body. These points are selected after an assessment and are based on your individualised constitution. Here’s what you can expect during an acupuncture session:
You'll lie down on a comfortable table, and your acupuncturist will insert the needles into specific points on your body, which may include the hands, feet, torso or ears.
You may feel a slight sensation when the needles are inserted, but it should not be painful.
You'll lie still for about 20-30 minutes while the needles are in place.
Sometimes your acupuncturist may use moxibustion, by lighting a herb called mugwort on acupuncture points prior to needling, or they may use a TDP lamp which increased microcirculation and oxygen and nutrients to the treatment area.
Your acupuncturist may use gua sha or cupping, a technique that stimulates the production of Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an inflammation busting enzyme for the entire body.
After the needles are removed, you may feel a sense of relaxation
Acupuncture can be an effective, natural solution for fertility support, and it can be used alone or as an adjunct to other fertility treatments. By regulating hormones, improving blood flow, reducing stress, and supporting other fertility treatments, acupuncture could help improve your chances of conceiving. According to research, the efficacy of acupuncture may depend on the dosage, therefore an appropriate number of acupuncture sessions are necessary over a suitable duration. This is worth bearing in mind if you would like to start acupuncture in preparation for IVF. If you're interested in trying acupuncture for fertility, be sure to work with a qualified acupuncturist who has experience in this area.
If you are looking for fertility acupuncture in leicester, you can get in touch by leaving your details here.