Many of our patients ask us about trying acupuncture for fertility treatments. Can acupuncture help with infertility? How does it work?
We support our patients in pursuing integrated, holistic care from a variety of traditions. While more research is needed on the exact benefits of acupuncture and infertility, studies do suggest that acupuncture can assist with reducing stress and increasing overall health. If you’re interested in exploring acupuncture, we can refer you to board-certified fertility acupuncturists.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and East Asian medicine (EAM) that has existed for thousands of years. Practitioners of acupuncture use a holistic approach that examines and treats the whole body. The acupuncturist places very thin needles at specific points on the body, depending on the particular treatment. In the United States, the most common form is traditional Chinese acupuncture, which may also involve nutrition and lifestyle recommendations and the use of traditional herbs.
Does Acupuncture for Fertility Work?
Studies have shown that acupuncture helps with relaxation and stress management. Some studies also suggest that acupuncture can increase blood flow to the endometrium, where an egg implants during pregnancy. Supporters of acupuncture recommend it for various fertility conditions, such as fibroids, endometriosis, and low ovarian reserve or egg quality. Currently, scientific evidence shows mixed results as to whether acupuncture helps with infertility. Some studies show a positive effect, while others do not show any results. Part of the challenge is that it’s very difficult to perform a controlled study on acupuncture, as it is personalized to each patient and challenging to create a control group.
With that said, plenty of patients feel that acupuncture helped their fertility journey. In addition, acupuncture does not seem to have any negative effects. For this reason, we support patients in exploring acupuncture if they feel interested.
When Should I Start Acupuncture for My Fertility Treatments?
Many acupuncturists recommend starting sessions three months before trying to conceive or beginning Western fertility treatments. Some studies support this, by indicating that the fertility benefits of acupuncture increase with more sessions. However, you may still have a positive response to acupuncture even when starting it alongside other fertility treatments. Talk with your doctor and acupuncture specialist about their recommendations for timing.
What Should I Expect From My First Acupuncture Appointment?
At your first session, your acupuncturist will ask you for a detailed health history, including questions about your concerns, sleep patterns, stress levels, diet, relationships, and physical health. They may also perform a physical exam, which often includes looking at your tongue. The actual acupuncture treatment itself typically takes around thirty minutes. The specialist will place very thin needles into specific areas of your body, and then leave you to relax. Some people feel a slight pinch or dull ache when the needles are inserted, but many patients feel little to no pain or discomfort.
After your session, your specialist may provide a treatment plan, including lifestyle and dietary recommendations and the suggested number of sessions.
How Do I Find a Good Acupuncturist?
When seeking acupuncture for fertility treatment, it’s important to find someone who specializes in fertility and reproductive health. We recommend working with a board-certified acupuncturist. You can find board-certified fertility acupuncturists here.
If you have additional questions about acupuncture and fertility, ask your doctor about it at your initial consultation. We collaborate with patients to create a holistic treatment plan that meets your needs, and are happy to work with trained acupuncturists to coordinate treatments. To begin, schedule your first appointment today.