Written by Eileen Park, MSc, IBCLC, ND
The use of acupuncture to improve the outcome of both natural and assisted fertility has become widespread over the years. In fact, many of our patients who are seeking fertility support have already heard about the benefits of acupuncture and request it. Acupuncture is a safe and relatively non-invasive treatment that has been a part of Asian Medicine for centuries. It involves the insertion of disposable needles into points on the surface of the skin, causing physiological changes. Acupuncture may be beneficial for both women AND men in improving fertility and its effectiveness is thought to be generally due to improved circulation to pelvic organs, restored hormonal balance, reduced inflammation and reduced mental/emotional stress.
Benefits for Men:
Several factors may interfere with male fertility, including low sperm count, structural abnormalities, and reduced motility. Acupuncture has been found to be effective in improving these qualities (Dieterle et al. 2009; Pei et al. 2005; Siterman et al. 2000; Siterman et al. 1997). One study showed that after only 10 sessions of treatments, the average percentage of healthy sperm had increased more than four-fold (Pei et al. 2005).
Benefits for Women:
Factors or conditions that may interfere with female fertility include hormonal imbalances and irregular menstrual cycles, poor egg quality/quantity, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and immunological factors. There is an abundance of research showing the benefits of acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment for improving rates of pregnancy and live births in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) regardless of the underlying causes (Manheimer et al. 2008; Rosenthal & Anderson, 2007). Even in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome who did not undergo any other fertility treatments, acupuncture was effective in improving hormone levels, promoting ovulation and regulating menstrual cycles (Jedel et al. 2011; Johansson et al. 2013; Stener-Victorin et al. 2000). Moreover, an 8 week acupuncture trial showed that women felt a sense of relaxation and calmness and felt like they could cope better with the stresses associated with their fertility (Smith et al. 2011).
Acupuncture with the Wylde Natural health Team:
As Naturopathic Doctors, we have received extensive training in Asian Medicine and acupuncture. Our fertility protocols for both men and women are individualized and based on an in-depth assessment of each person. The number of treatments and frequency of treatments recommended can vary depending on your specific case. For those who have a fast approaching IVF cycle, we do provide acupuncture treatments immediately before and after IVF transfer. If you have time to prepare for your cycle or are looking to boost your fertility naturally, we recommend that you begin your acupuncture treatments as soon as possible since follicles begin developing in the ovary 120 days before they are released and sperm also have a 120 day cycle. In these cases, treatments can range from twice a week to twice a month.
~ Eileen Park, MSc, IBCLC, ND
For Eileen’s Bio click HERE
Manheimer E, Zhang G, Udoff L, Haramati A, Langenberg P, Berman BM, Bouter LM. Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008, 8;336(7643):545-9
Pei J, Strehler E, Noss U, Abt M, Piomboni P, Baccetti B, Sterzik K. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertil Steril. 2005; 84(1):141-7
Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Lederman H, Bartoov B. Does acupuncture treatment affect sperm density in males with very low sperm count? A pilot study. Andrologia. 2000, 32(1):31-9
Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Zabludovsky N, Bartoov B. Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from subfertility related to low sperm quality. Arch Androl. 1997. 39(2):155-61
Dieterle S, Li C, Greb R, Bartzsch F, Hatzmann W, Huang D. A prospective randomized placebo-controlled study of the effect of acupuncture in infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia. Fertil Steril. 2009;92(4):1340-3.
Jedel E, Labrie F, Odén A, Holm G, Nilsson L, Janson PO, Lind AK, Ohlsson C, Stener-Victorin E. Impact of electro-acupuncture and physical exercise on hyperandrogenism and oligo/amenorrhea in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011; 300(1):E37-45
Johansson J, Redman L, Veldhuis PP, Sazonova A, Labrie F, Holm G, Johannsson G, Stener-Victorin E. Acupuncture for ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled trial. J Cell Biol. 2013; 1;304(9):E934-43
Smith CA, Ussher JM, Perz J, Carmady B, de Lacey S. The effect of acupuncture on psychosocial outcomes for women experiencing infertility: a pilot randomized controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2011;17(10):923-30.
Stener-Victorin E, Waldenström U, Tägnfors U, Lundeberg T, Lindstedt G, Janson PO. Effects of electro-acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2000; 79(3):180-8.