More often than not, when people want to have children, and they can’t conceive, they begin to panic and turn to medical doctors. While finding out what may be the cause of not being able to become pregnant can be useful, medical doctors soon refer their patients to in vitro fertilization, a costly, invasive procedure, which may be unnecessary. The best time to do acupuncture for fertility is right after the visit to the physician when you find out what may be wrong. Patients choose to do acupuncture to try to correct the hormonal imbalance and then go back to the doctor to repeat the tests, but the woman becomes pregnant during the course of the treatment. (Oftentimes, tests show no abnormalities, but still the couple can’t get pregnant.) Curiously and importantly, research has also shown that when acupuncture is combined with in vitro fertilization, it results in greater number of live births and fewer miscarriages (Rubin et al., 2020).
What Does Acupuncture Do for Fertility?
On one hand, scientists don’t know how acupuncture helps fertility, but on the other hand research has demonstrated several mechanisms that may play roles in acupuncture’s effectiveness. For example, research studies have shown that acupuncture has anti-inflammatory effects (Jin, Jin, & Jin, 2019). Considering that such common conditions as endometriosis, endometritis, and pelvic inflammatory disease (Kitaya, Takeuchi, Mizuta, Matsubayashi, & Ishikawa, 2018; Ravel, Moreno, & Simón, 2021) often cause infertility, even temporary reduction of inflammation can be enough to conceive a child. At the same time, traditionally, acupuncture is a holistic approach, and treats each patient by restoring the optimal balance among his or her organ systems, rather than addressing a health issue directly (Wei-Xing, 2019).
How Effective Is Acupuncture for Fertility?
According to one study’s conclusion, “Acupuncture as a treatment for infertility shows great results both in man and women” (Zhu, Arsovska, & Kozovska, 2018), but many other studies are more specific in their conclusions. For example, the authors of one study wrote, “Acupuncture can affect β-endorphin production, which may, in turn, affect gonadotropin-releasing hormone secretion and affecting ovulation and menstrual cycle” (Chen & Lim, 2019), which is why “Referrals from Western medical practitioners were more common for maternity acupuncture than for fertility or menstrual health” (Betts, Armour, & Robinson, 2019).
- Chen, H., & Lim, C. E. D. (2019). The efficacy of using acupuncture in managing polycystic ovarian syndrome. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 31(6), 428-432.
- Jin, B. X., Jin, L. L., & Jin, G. Y. (2019). The anti-inflammatory effect of acupuncture and its significance in analgesia. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion, 29(1), 1-6.
- Kitaya, K., Takeuchi, T., Mizuta, S., Matsubayashi, H., & Ishikawa, T. (2018). Endometritis: new time, new concepts. Fertility and sterility, 110(3), 344-350.
- Betts, D., Armour, M., & Robinson, N. (2019). UK support network for maternity acupuncture: survey of acupuncturists on the acupuncture (for conception to) childbirth team. Medical Acupuncture, 31(5), 274-280.
- Ravel, J., Moreno, I., & Simón, C. (2021). Bacterial vaginosis and its association with infertility, endometritis, and pelvic inflammatory disease. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 224(3), 251-257.
- Rubin, L. H., Sgarlata, C. S., Hogue, M., Pate, L., Richards, E., Tongel, L. K., & Jin, H. (2020). Impact of acupuncture and traditional chinese medicine (TCM) on frozen embryo transfers (FET) of autologous embryos with comprehensive chromosomal screening (CCS): a retrospective cohort STUDY. Fertility and Sterility, 114(3), e450-e451.
- Wei-Xing, P. (2019). Bidirectional regulation of acupuncture and its plausible mechanisms. Acupunct. Res, 11, 843-853.
- Zhu, J., Arsovska, B., & Kozovska, K. (2018). Acupuncture treatment for fertility. Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences, 6(9), 1685.