Acupuncture helps the body relax and also helps to balance internal systems and boost the effectiveness of standard infertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI).
It may treat thyroid problems that lead to difficulty conceiving, regulate hormone levels and increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, which may increase the chances of an embryo implanting. It’s especially useful when it’s done when you’re undergoing IVF—before and after embryo transfer and IUI.
Acupuncture enables patients to feel calmer prior to their procedure and has been shown to relax the uterine wall, which decreases spasms and cramping that often occur. It also seems to help prevent discomfort 24 to 48 hours after IVF.
In a German study, women who underwent acupuncture and in vitro fertilization (IVF) achieved nearly a 43 percent pregnancy rate after just six weeks. Those who didn’t undergo the technique experienced a 26 percent success rate.
A 2006 study found that when acupuncture was done during the second half of the menstrual cycle, it more than doubled pregnancy rates among women undergoing fertility treatments. About one-third of those who received acupuncture became pregnant, while just 15.6 percent of those who didn’t undergo the technique were successful. Another study found that administering acupuncture to women undergoing IVF on the day of embryo transfer boosted pregnancy rates from 26 percent to 39 percent.
Research also indicates that acupuncture may help men with fertility problems. The technique appears to increase the number of normal sperm and decrease the number of defective sperm.
If you’re undergoing in vitro fertilization, experts suggest having acupuncture close to the office where the IVF takes place. That way, you can minimize the amount of stress surrounding the treatment.