Having acupuncture has been shown, in some studies, to have a positive influence on pregnancy outcomes, as it improves blood flow and can reduce stress and anxiety in both men and women. 

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of complementary medicine, which involves puncturing the skin with needles at specific points, in order to alleviate pain or to treat physical, mental and emotional conditions. The practice originated in China, but it is now used more widely in the western world too. 

The importance for IVF of improving blood flow 

Like any other organs in the body, the reproductive organs need nourishment. Blood flow can decline with age and stress and as many women undergoing IVF are older and/or struggling with fertility issues, this can have a negative impact on their ability to conceive. 

Acupuncture can increase blood flow to the ovaries and uterus and improve the environment, ready for the embryos to be implanted. 

Acupuncture can also increase blood flow to the male reproductive organs and can increase sperm count and improve sperm morphology and motility. 

Acupuncture for relaxation

Stress alone is unlikely to cause infertility, however, infertility can cause stress and it’s possible that that stress can have a negative impact on a couple’s chances of conceiving. 

Acupuncture is a holistic treatment that has helped people to manage their stress levels for thousands of years. The process of inserting needles into acupuncture points on the body, releases tension and stimulates energy flow. Having acupuncture can also lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase ‘feel good’ hormones. 

It can help both men and women who are trying to conceive, by helping their muscles to relax and their mind to feel calmer, in turn reducing their stress levels.

How long do you have to do acupuncture for to increase fertility?

As acupuncture is a complementary treatment, it’s difficult to find evidence to prove conclusively the impact of acupuncture on IVF success.

However, for people who want to try acupuncture, it’s recommended that it can be used prior to starting IVF treatment and before and after the embryo transfer.  

How can I find a trusted acupuncturist?

Your doctor or fertility specialist may be able refer you to someone who is used to working with IVF patients. It’s always advisable to ask the acupuncturist about their general experience and their experience in the field of working with patients with infertility. 

The UK has its own regulatory body called the BAC (British Acupuncture Council). Other countries also have regulatory bodies, if you are looking at having your IVF treatment overseas.

What will an acupuncture consultation look like?

As acupuncture is a holistic treatment and often used alongside conventional medicine, your acupuncturist will want to know your full medical history and talk to you at length about your fertility journey so far.

They will set up a personalised, individual plan for your treatment, explain what they will be doing and why, tell you how many sessions they would recommend and try to put you at ease before you get started. While many people are nervous prior to starting acupuncture sessions, people often relax into it very quickly and some patients relax so much, that they even fall asleep during acupuncture treatment. 


How can the IVF Network help you on your fertility journey?

Here at the IVF Network, we understand the emotional and physical challenges that IVF can present, as well as the monetary costs and decisions about finding the right clinic (for patients who don’t qualify for NHS treatments). 

That’s why we provide a wide range of information and advice about all aspects of the IVF process, through our dedicated channel, on our website and in our regular blog posts, to help you to make informed choices about your treatment.