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  • Writer's pictureClaire Norton MBaCC

Can Fertility Acupuncture Really Improve IVF Outcomes? New Study Unveils Exciting Results

A needle with a drawing of a small baby inside

Are you exploring the possibility of using in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to expand your family? If that's the case, you'll definitely want to learn of the groundbreaking findings from a recent study. This study reveals an exciting connection between fertility acupuncture and IVF success rates. Acupuncture is a tried and tested tool, significantly boosting the likelihood of successful pregnancies through IVF. The realm of research involving both IVF and acupuncture has grown immensely in recent years, with more couples turning to acupuncture during this process due to its increasingly promising results.


Let's delve into the study's revelations and explore how this increasingly popular method can truly elevate your IVF journey.


Enhancing IVF with Fertility Acupuncture-   The Science


From a scientific standpoint, the positive influence of fertility acupuncture on IVF outcomes becomes clearer when we consider its multifaceted effects. Acupuncture plays a role in regulating the nervous and endocrine systems, crucial for reproductive health. By stimulating specific acupuncture points, blood flow to the reproductive organs is enhanced, creating an ideal environment for egg development, implantation, and embryo growth during IVF.


Additionally, fertility acupuncture has the potential to reduce stress and anxiety levels, which are known to impact fertility and IVF success rates. Elevated stress can lead to hormonal imbalances that hinder conception. The modulating impact of acupuncture on the nervous system creates a more balanced hormonal environment, potentially enhancing the chances of a successful pregnancy. This makes acupuncture a sought-after treatment for couples navigating IVF, aiming to mitigate stress and achieve better outcomes.




Exploring Research Progress


A scientist conducting IVF research


In the realm of IVF, the significance of acupuncture has garnered increasing attention over recent decades. More and more couples are integrating acupuncture into their IVF journey to optimise their chances. With a surge in research efforts, the growing evidence is undeniably promising. In this piece, we delve into the findings of the latest study.


Remarkable Results of the New Study


The outcomes of this extensive study, which included 4,757 participants, are truly impressive. The researchers noted a substantial disparity in the clinical pregnancy rate (CPR) between those who underwent acupuncture and the control group. Remarkably, women who received fertility acupuncture achieved a CPR of 43.6%, significantly higher than the control group's CPR of 33.2% (with an astonishingly low P-value of less than 0.00001). This finding alone underscores fertility acupuncture's potential in elevating the success rates of pregnancy during IVF. (Xu et al., 2023)


Furthermore, the study delved into live birth rates (LBR) among participants. The fertility acupuncture group achieved an impressive LBR of 38.0%, while the control group reached 28.7%. Once again, this difference was statistically significant (P < 0.00001), further highlighting the capacity of fertility acupuncture to enhance the probability of a successful live birth post-IVF.


Variety in Acupuncture Approaches


Interestingly, the researchers explored different fertility acupuncture techniques and their effects on IVF outcomes. These techniques included manual acupuncture, electrical acupuncture, and transcutaneous acupoint electrical stimulation. The results indicated that each of these approaches positively influenced IVF success rates, instilling optimism and encouragement in couples undergoing fertility treatments.


In Conclusion


The evidence from this study is impressive, demonstrating the pivotal role fertility acupuncture plays in IVF outcomes. Whether the practitioner uses manual acupuncture, electrical acupuncture, or transcutaneous acupoint electrical stimulation, each approach has shown promise in recent studies.


For those contemplating IVF or currently navigating fertility treatments, integrating fertility acupuncture into the treatment plan could prove to be a strategic choice. With extensive experience supporting countless women through the IVF journey, I've witnessed acupuncture's far-reaching benefits extend beyond just the outcome for many of these women.


So, when should I start acupuncture?



Planning ahead is key, I recommend starting acupuncture a minimum of three months before the treatment cycle (and possibly longer in certain cases). This allows time for acupuncture and personalised guidance to influence the hormonal environment vital for egg development and recruitment. The significance lies in understanding the biological mechanisms at play—why the three months leading up to the cycle are pivotal. Acupuncture's benefits are dose dependant, meaning a course of treatment is required and not a singular treatment. Moreover, a minimum of 3 months preparation period offers room for further necessary testing. It makes little sense to me for a couple to proceed with expensive IVF treatments without doing a little bit of detective work to ensure you approach your treatment cycle knowing you have explored reasonable testing.


Frequently, individuals contact me in the final week or month of their IVF journey, and unfortunately, I'm unable to accommodate them at that point. I'm committed to our clients' results, and acupuncture's value is more substantial during the preparatory period rather than just around the transfer. Additionally, late appointments make it challenging to ensure that recommended patient-specific tests have been conducted before commencing an IVF cycle. Since many acupuncturists have waiting lists, it's advisable to reach out well in advance.


Tips for Finding a Fertility Acupuncturist


As for finding a fertility acupuncturist, I highly recommend seeking a Fertility Support Expert. We're trained to think out of the box, question a little more and dig a little deeper.

Each practitioner has been awarded an advanced postgraduate diploma in fertility, this is in addition to a 3-4 year full time acupuncture degree and a minimum of 5 years experience. Each practitioner is deeply committed to ongoing professional development specifically in fertility.


Another option is to seek a British acupuncture council member, I would then suggest selecting a practitioner from this register with extensive training and experience with fertility and IVF support.


Given that acupuncture isn't regulated in the UK, it's wise to ensure your chosen practitioner has comprehensive training in both acupuncture and fertility.


Let's work together!


A fertility acupuncturist in a blue shirt taking the notes of an IVF patient


For those keen to work with me, the fastest way is to join the waiting list and secure a spot as soon as one becomes available. I am working reduced hours and my waiting list can vary. I'll be concluding my last round of client intake for 2023 in September and I hope to reopen my waiting list in June 2024.



Resources


Fertility support experts (2023) Fertility Support Experts. Available at: https://www.fertilitysupport.expert/ (Accessed: 25 August 2023).


Infertility IVF (2019) (2023) BAcC. Available at: https://acupuncture.org.uk/fact-sheets/infertility-art/ (Accessed: 25 August 2023).


Xu, M., Zhu, M. and Zheng, C. (2023) ‘Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis’, Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics [Preprint]. doi:10.1007/s00404-023-07142-1.

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2 Comments


Trish O Hara
Trish O Hara
Aug 25, 2023

A 10% difference is so significant!

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Claire Norton
Claire Norton
Aug 26, 2023
Replying to

Thanks Trish. A great result, something we have seen clinically time and time again. Imagine if clinics could increase stats by 10 percent! A valuable treatment strategy that increases stats and makes you feel and function better, there’s huge value!

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