As many modern parents delay child-bearing until it’s economically feasible, the number of couples experiencing fertility issues has risen. While standard approaches work for many infertile couples, some would opt to start with non-traditional options, including acupuncture.

Acupuncture has helped many couples when trying to conceive, as it can impact many aspects of physiological health and the performance of the reproductive organs. While determining a direct link between acupuncture and fertility has proven difficult, some studies have shown that when combined with traditional fertility treatments, acupuncture can increase success rates by up to 50 percent. There are several ways in which acupuncture treatments can aid in conception.

  1. Regulation of the reproductive hormones: Conception relies on a delicate balance of many conditions, all of which must be optimal in order to conceive. To become pregnant, the female reproductive hormones, including the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), must be precisely balanced. If FSH is too high, the brain is working extra hard to grow ovarian follicles and eggs. A higher level may even indicate that the ovaries have stopped working or that the woman is in a perimenopausal state. Women with these high levels may not respond to ovarian stimulation medication, resulting in fewer eggs produced. Acupuncture positively alters how reproductive hormones are produced, making the body respond better to ovarian stimulation medication or natural stimulation by the brain from reproductive hormones.
  2. Increased embryo implantation: A recent study found that acupuncture significantly increased pregnancy rates for women with a history of two or more failed IVF cycles. As acupuncture increases blood flow to the reproductive organs, which is necessary for embryo implantation, it can help the embryo successfully implant. This good supply can also assist with better egg retrieval. Finally, acupuncture can improve immune system performance and may resolve immune system problems that can prevent the embryo from implanting.
  3. Management of stress and anxiety: Fertility problems can often increase stress levels in patients, which, in turn, also leads to greater reductions in the chances of conception. Stress can have a negative impact on the body’s ability to produce reproductive hormones. It may cause the menstrual cycles to become shorter, shortening the interval in which embryos can implant. Very high levels of stress can also increase the risk of miscarriages in women and reduce the quality and quantity of sperm for men. Several studies have shown that acupuncture for fertility can reduce anxiety and stress in patients unable to become pregnant.
  4. Improved sperm quality and quantity: Not all instances of infertility indicate an issue with the mother’s body. Up to 40% of infertility cases are caused, at least in part, by fertility issues in the father. When sperm quantity is a factoring problem, IVF can use a technique called intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, or ISI, in which a single sperm is injected into an egg. However, this process does not address sperm quality. The embryo will not implant or be otherwise viable if the perm quality is low. Some research focusing on the effects of acupuncture on male fertility has found that it can have a positive influence on sperm concentration, motility, vitality, and quantity. It can also help the body regulate testosterone, which must be optimal in order to have adequate sperm production. Ultimately, these benefits can increase IVF fertilization rates and may lead to a greater number of embryos after an IVF cycle.
  5. Improved blood flow and egg quality: Sufficient blood flow to the reproductive organs is associated with higher-quality eggs. If there is insufficient blood flow, the follicles and eggs within the reproductive organs will not have enough nutrients and oxygen to produce good eggs that may be used for IVF treatments. One of the most well-documented benefits of acupuncture is increased blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. This effect is achieved when acupuncture relaxes the walls of blood vessels, resulting in increased blood flow.

While the direct link between acupuncture and fertility is still somewhat of a mystery, there can be no denying that the ancillary benefits of acupuncture can certainly help physiological conditions and performance improve, which may lead to a more successful outcome. Another key benefit is that acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment. Before starting any treatment, discussing it with your OB/GYN is always a good idea. However, to learn more about acupuncture for fertility, contact MK Integrative today!

MK Integrative offers various natural and herbal health medicine options that use naturopathic medicine principles, from consultations, acupuncture, customized herbal formulations, natural pain management, and more. Our team can help you to manage your health and wellness through herbal medicine options proactively.