Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have received a lot of press in recent years, as they have been shown to significantly improve clinical pregnancy and live birth rates in women undergoing IVF treatment (1,2,3). There are many ways in which acupuncture can support you as you undertake fertility treatment, and two of these include reducing stress, and increasing blood flow to the pelvic area.
It’s well known that stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol have a destructive effect on fertility – and with 73% of Australians admitting stress impacts their everyday lives, it’s a pretty big problem (4,5). Stress hormones inhibit the release of hormones such as FSH, LH and progesterone, all of which are paramount to ovulation, conception and pregnancy. Acupuncture helps to lessen the body’s “fight or flight” response that stress enables, and in turn acupuncture helps to reduce the levels of these hormones circulating around the body. This allows for the fertility hormones to be released(6).
Acupuncture also stimulates the release of endorphins (your body’s own painkillers) and neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine (your body’s own happy hormones), which increases feelings of happiness and relaxation.
Acupuncture helps to regulate blood flow to the uterus and ovaries by regulating the responses of the ovarian and uterine nerves. This in turn encourages a thicker uterine lining, and also helps to increase the receptivity of that lining, which helps to make implantation of an embryo more likely to be successful(7).
Incorporating Acupuncture into your Fertility Treatment
For best results, acupuncture treatments are undertaken weekly in the lead up to your IVF cycle, and during the cycle. Whilst there is no absolute guarantee it will lead to a pregnancy in your individual case, it can (at the very least) make the process less stressful and more easily manageable – in short, it’s worth giving it a go.
About the Author:
Dr Grace Jones is a Nationally Registered Acupuncturist based on the Sunshine Coast. Grace has undertaken extensive clinical training in natural fertility, IVF support and pregnancy support with Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, and is passionate about integrating traditional medicine with modern complimentary care, in order to improve and maintain life-long health in her patients. Grace is available for appointments in Maroochydore, Buddina and Buderim.
- Cui Hong Zheng, C.H., Huang, G.Y., Zhang, M.M., & Wang, W., Effects of Acupuncture on pregnancy rates in Women undergoing In-vitro fertilization: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Fertility and Sterility. 1-11-2012 (Link to research)
- Macaldowie A, Wang YA, Chughtai AA & Chambers GM 2014. Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2012. Sydney: National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, the University of New South Wales (Link to research)
- Dalton-Brewer N et al, Hum Fert 2010 Vol 12 No 4 212 – 255 Human Fertility (abstracts from UK Fertility Societies Conference 2009)
- Gallinelli, A., Roncaglia, R., Matteo, M., Ciaccio, I., Volpe, A., and Facchinetti, F.Immunological changes and stress are associated with different implantation rates in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer. Fertil Steril. 2001; 76: 85–91
- Stress and Australians (2016), URL: https://wayahead.org.au/stress-and-australians/
- C. Magarelli, D. K. Cridennda and M. Cohen, Changes in serum cortisol and prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer treatment., Fertil. Steril., 2009, 92, 1870–1879.
- Cochrane, S., Smith, A., Possamai-Inesedy, A., Bensoussan, A. Acupuncture and women’s health: an overview of the role of acupuncture and its clinical management in women’s reproductive health. International Journal of Women’s Health. 2014, 6, 313–325.