Acupuncture is a popular and natural way to complement fertility treatments, especially in vitro fertilization (IVF). Many people who want to have a baby are looking for alternative methods to improve their fertility, and acupuncture has proven to be effective in supporting and optimizing IVF results.
IVF is a hopeful option for many couples and individuals who face infertility issues, but it also comes with its own challenges. IVF can be stressful, exhausting, and costly, which makes people want to find additional ways to boost their success rate.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese technique that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to balance the energy flow and promote healing. When combined with IVF, acupuncture can have positive effects on fertility outcomes and enhance the overall IVF experience.
By choosing acupuncture as a complementary therapy, you can take charge of your fertility journey and potentially increase your chances of a successful IVF result. This holistic approach not only improves the physical aspects of fertility but also considers the emotional well-being of the individual, providing a complete support system throughout the IVF process.
At Metro Acupuncture, we are committed to helping you achieve your fertility goals through customized acupuncture treatment plans that suit your individual needs and preferences. Our skilled practitioners have assisted many individuals in improving their IVF experience and attaining successful outcomes through the combination of acupuncture and fertility treatments.
In this article, we will explore how acupuncture can enhance IVF outcomes and how our Atlanta acupuncture clinic can be your partner in this empowering journey. We will cover the benefits of acupuncture, share with you some of the latest research findings that support the effectiveness of acupuncture for IVF, and emphasize our personalized approach to treatment.
The path to parenthood can be both thrilling and challenging, but with the right support and complementary therapies such as acupuncture, you can improve your fertility journey and raise your chances of a successful IVF result. Let us discover the possibilities together and empower your journey towards parenthood at Metro Acupuncture.
What is Acupuncture and What are its Subtypes?
Have you ever wondered how inserting thin needles into your body can improve your chances of getting pregnant? Acupuncture is an ancient healing practice that aims to balance the flow of energy and blood in your body. By activating specific points on your body, acupuncture can affect various aspects of your health. For women who struggle with conceiving, acupuncture can offer many advantages. For instance, acupuncture can help regulate your menstrual cycles, reduce stress and inflammation, improve your ovarian function and egg quality, increase blood flow to your uterus, and support implantation and pregnancy. These are just some of the positive outcomes that acupuncture can bring to your reproductive health.
Subtypes of acupuncture include:
Traditional Acupuncture: Manual Stimulation of Needles
Traditional acupuncture (1) involves inserting needles into certain locations on the body, known as acupoints. These points are connected to different organs and systems in the body, and stimulating them can regulate their functions. Acupuncturists often use manual techniques, such as lifting, rotating, or inserting the needles, to increase the therapeutic effect. This manual stimulation activates nerve endings and generates electrical signals that modulate neural pathways.
Electroacupuncture: Electrical Stimulation of Needles
Electroacupuncture (EA) is a technique that combines acupuncture with electrical stimulation. EA involves attaching electrodes to the needles and applying microcurrent waves to them. EA can enhance the effects of acupuncture by increasing the intensity and duration of stimulation. EA has been found to release natural painkillers in the body and can modulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis, which controls female reproduction.
How Acupuncture Works to Boost Fertility in General
Acupuncture can help improve reproductive health (2) by regulating hormonal balance, enhancing ovarian function, and promoting embryo implantation.
Acupuncture and Reproductive Hormones
Reproductive hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, are key factors that affect fertility in women. They control the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and pregnancy. However, some women may have hormonal imbalances that can interfere with their fertility, such as too much or too little of certain hormones (GnRH, FSH, LH).
Acupuncture can help restore normal hormone levels by stimulating specific points on the body that are connected to the reproductive system. By doing so, acupuncture can help regulate the reproductive system and improve the chances of getting pregnant.
For example, acupuncture can help reduce the levels of GnRH, FSH, and LH, which can inhibit ovulation and cause irregular menstrual cycles. Acupuncture can also help increase the levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can promote ovulation and prepare the uterus for pregnancy.
Acupuncture and Ovarian Function
The ovaries are the organs that produce and release eggs. They play a crucial role in fertility. However, some women may have problems with their ovarian function, such as poor egg quality, low ovarian reserve, or premature ovarian insufficiency (POI).
Acupuncture can help improve ovarian function by stimulating specific points on the body that are connected to the ovaries. By doing so, acupuncture can help protect the cells that nourish the eggs (granulosa cells) from dying, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the ovaries, and enhance blood supply to the ovaries.
These effects can help improve egg quality and quantity, and increase the chances of ovulation.
For example, acupuncture can help prevent granulosa cell apoptosis (cell death), which can impair egg maturation and quality. Acupuncture can also help reduce cytokines (inflammatory molecules) and reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the ovaries, which can damage the eggs and impair their function. Acupuncture can also help improve blood flow to the ovaries, which can provide more oxygen and nutrients to the eggs and improve their development.
Acupuncture and Embryo Implantation
Embryo implantation is the final step in achieving pregnancy. It is when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. However, some women may have difficulties with embryo implantation, such as poor endometrial receptivity, immune rejection, or abnormal embryo development.
Acupuncture can help promote successful embryo implantation by stimulating specific points on the body that are connected to the uterus. By doing so, acupuncture can help modulate the immune response of the mother to the embryo, making it more likely for the embryo to be accepted. Acupuncture can also help facilitate the invasion of the trophoblast cells (which form the embryo) into the uterine lining, establishing a physical connection. Lastly, acupuncture can help improve the development of the embryo within the uterus, increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy.
For example, acupuncture can help regulate cytokines (inflammatory molecules) and natural killer cells (immune cells) in the uterus, which can affect embryo implantation. Acupuncture can also help increase endometrial receptivity by increasing endometrial thickness and blood flow to the uterus. Acupuncture can also help stimulate trophoblast cell invasion by increasing matrix metalloproteinases (enzymes that break down extracellular matrix) and vascular endothelial growth factor (a molecule that promotes blood vessel formation) in the uterus. Acupuncture can also help improve embryo development by increasing growth factors (molecules that stimulate cell growth) and reducing oxidative stress (free radical damage) in the uterus. Acupuncture is a holistic approach to treating female infertility, addressing hormonal imbalances, improving ovarian function, and enhancing embryo implantation.
How Acupuncture Boosts IVF Success: A Scientific Explanation
If you are considering in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive a child, you may have heard that acupuncture can improve your chances of getting pregnant. But how does acupuncture work with IVF? What are the mechanisms behind this ancient healing art that can enhance your fertility? In the following sections, we will explore the scientific evidence (3) that supports the use of acupuncture for IVF. We will also explain how acupuncture can benefit you throughout the different stages of IVF, from ovarian stimulation to embryo transfer.
Acupuncture and the Hormonal Balance
One of the key factors that affects your fertility is your hormonal balance. Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate various functions in your body, including ovulation, menstruation, and implantation. Acupuncture can help restore the hormonal balance by influencing the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis, which is responsible for controlling the production and release of reproductive hormones. Acupuncture can also increase the levels of ß-endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers that can modulate the hormonal response.
Acupuncture can be especially helpful for women who have ovulatory disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or premature ovarian failure (POF). By stimulating specific points on the body, acupuncture can trigger the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which in turn stimulates the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones are essential for the development and maturation of follicles in the ovaries, which contain the eggs. Acupuncture can also help regulate the levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are important for preparing the endometrium (uterine lining) for implantation.
Acupuncture and the Blood Flow
Another way that acupuncture can improve your fertility is by increasing the blood flow to your reproductive organs. Blood flow is vital for delivering oxygen and nutrients to your ovaries and uterus, as well as removing waste products and toxins. By improving the blood circulation, acupuncture can enhance the quality and quantity of your eggs, as well as the thickness and receptivity of your endometrium.
Acupuncture achieves this effect by relaxing the nervous system and dilating the blood vessels. Acupuncture can also stimulate the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is a protein that promotes the formation of new blood vessels. This can improve the blood supply to your ovaries and uterus, as well as to the developing embryo after implantation.
Acupuncture and the Immune System
Your immune system is also involved in your fertility. A healthy immune system is necessary for protecting your body from infections and diseases, as well as for recognizing and accepting a foreign entity, such as an embryo. However, sometimes your immune system can become overactive or imbalanced, leading to inflammation, allergies, or autoimmune disorders. These conditions can impair your fertility by causing damage to your reproductive tissues or interfering with implantation.
Acupuncture can help modulate your immune system by balancing the levels of T-helper cells, which are a type of white blood cell that coordinate the immune response. There are two main types of T-helper cells: Th1 and Th2. Th1 cells are responsible for fighting off intracellular pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. Th2 cells are responsible for fighting off extracellular pathogens, such as parasites and allergens. Ideally, you want a balanced ratio of Th1 and Th2 cells in your body. However, some people may have a dominance of either Th1 or Th2 cells, which can cause inflammation or hypersensitivity.
Acupuncture can help restore the equilibrium between Th1 and Th2 cells by stimulating specific points on the body. This can reduce inflammation and allergic reactions, as well as promote tolerance and acceptance of the embryo. Acupuncture can also increase the levels of natural killer (NK) cells, which are another type of white blood cell that eliminate abnormal or infected cells. NK cells play a crucial role in eliminating defective embryos or preventing implantation of chromosomally abnormal embryos. However, too many NK cells or too aggressive NK cells can also harm healthy embryos or prevent implantation altogether. Acupuncture can help regulate the activity and function of NK cells, ensuring that they do their job without harming your fertility.
Acupuncture and the Stress Response
Last but not least, acupuncture can improve your fertility by reducing your stress levels. Stress is a common factor that affects many couples who are undergoing IVF. Stress can have negative impacts on your physical and mental health, as well as on your reproductive function. Stress can disrupt your hormonal balance, impair your ovulation, reduce your blood flow, alter your immune system, and lower your libido. Stress can also affect your mood, emotions, cognition, behavior, and relationships.
Acupuncture can help you cope with stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for inducing relaxation and calmness. Acupuncture can also increase the production of ß-endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers that can counteract the effects of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Acupuncture can also regulate the levels of neuropeptide-Y (NPY), which is a neurotransmitter that modulates the stress response in the brain. By reducing stress, acupuncture can improve your physical and mental well-being, as well as your fertility.
Acupuncture points used for in vitro fertilization.
What the Research Shows
The research on acupuncture for IVF is still evolving and sometimes produces conflicting results. However, there is established evidence that acupuncture can increase your chances of getting pregnant with IVF. Here are some of the studies that support this claim:
- A study conducted in 2019 found that acupuncture therapy during IVF resulted in higher positive pregnancy rates and live birth rates compared to a control group. The acupuncture sessions were performed at specific points on the body before and after embryo transfer, as well as during the follicular phase (4).
- A retrospective study in 2017 showed that acupuncture therapy on the day of embryo transfer resulted in higher pregnancy rates and live birth rates compared to a placebo group. The acupuncture sessions were performed before and after embryo transfer, and they also helped reduce pregnancy complications (5).
- A randomized controlled trial in 2017 explored the effects of transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) on IVF success. They found that TEAS at a specific frequency increased the success of IVF by influencing the levels of certain substances in the follicular fluid (6).
- A systematic review and meta-analysis in 2017 concluded that acupuncture could increase clinical pregnancy rates in patients undergoing IVF. Electroacupuncture (EA) showed better results in increasing IVF success compared to other forms of acupuncture.
- A systematic review in 2012 found that acupuncture increased clinical pregnancy rates and live birth rates in women undergoing IVF (7).
The Timing of Acupuncture for IVF
Acupuncture can be performed at different stages of IVF, depending on your individual needs and preferences. Manual acupuncture, electroacupuncture (EA), and laser acupuncture are the common modalities used. Research suggests that EA may have a slightly higher success rate compared to other forms of acupuncture. The specific acupuncture points chosen depend on the stage of the IVF procedure. For example:
- During controlled ovarian stimulation (COS), acupuncture points like ST 29, CV 4, CV 6, SP 6, SP 10, and additional points based on individual needs can be used. These points can help stimulate ovulation, improve egg quality, and prepare the endometrium for implantation.
- Before oocyte retrieval, different points like SP 10, SP 8, LR 3, ST 36, Ex-CA 1, CV 4, PC 6, and CV 12 are targeted. These points can help reduce pain and bleeding during oocyte retrieval, as well as enhance blood flow to the ovaries and uterus.
- On the day of embryo transfer (ET), specific points are used before and after the procedure to support implantation and overall success. These points include PC 6, SP 8, LR 3, ST 29 before ET; and GV 20, KI 3 after ET.
Metro Acupuncture: Your Trusted Partner in IVF Success
If you are looking for a reputable and experienced acupuncture clinic in the Atlanta area that specializes in fertility acupuncture, look no further than Metro Acupuncture. For over twenty years we have dedicated to helping individuals who are undergoing IVF treatment and other assisted reproductive technologies to enhance their chances of achieving their fertility goals. We offer personalized and holistic acupuncture treatments and complementary therapies that are tailored to your specific needs and concerns. Our team of acupuncturists are experts in the field of fertility acupuncture, with a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with individuals who are facing various fertility challenges. We understand the intricacies and complexities of fertility treatments and we are trained to provide you with the support and guidance you need throughout your fertility journey.
What to Expect from Our Fertility Acupuncture Treatments
At Metro Acupuncture, we take a personalized approach to fertility acupuncture treatments, recognizing that each individual’s situation is unique. We work closely with you to develop a customized treatment plan that aligns with your specific needs and fertility goals. We consider factors such as your age, overall health, medical history, and any underlying conditions that may affect your fertility to create a comprehensive and effective treatment plan.
Our process starts with an initial consultation, where we gather detailed information about your fertility journey, goals, and expectations. This information helps us design a personalized treatment plan that is specifically suited for you. During your acupuncture sessions, you will be comfortably positioned on a treatment table. We will then gently insert thin, single use, sterile needles into specific acupuncture points on your body. These needles will be left in place for around 30 minutes while you relax. Many of our patients find the experience to be calming and even enjoyable, often reporting a sense of deep relaxation during the treatment.
We strive to create a relaxing and comfortable environment for our patients. Our clinic is designed to provide a serene and welcoming atmosphere, promoting a sense of tranquility during your treatment sessions. Our acupuncturists are attentive and compassionate, ensuring that you feel supported.
Contact Us Today
How can Metro Acupuncture be your trusted partner in IVF success? Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation and discover the unwavering support and expertise we offer throughout your fertility journey. Take the first step towards achieving your fertility goals and let us guide you on your path to parenthood. We eagerly await your call and the opportunity to empower you in your pursuit of becoming a parent.
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3. Djaali W, Abdurrohim K, Helianthi DR. Management of Acupuncture as Adjuvant Therapy for in Vitro Fertilization. Med Acupunct. 2019;31(6):361–5.
4. Smith CA, Grant S, Lyttleton J, Cochrane S. Using a Delphi consensus process to develop an acupuncture treatment protocol by consensus for women undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatment. BMC Complement Altern Med [Internet]. 2012;12(1):1. Available from: ???
5. Seto MTY, Cheung KW, Lo TK, Ng EHY. Pregnancy outcomes of women randomized to receive real versus placebo acupuncture on the day of fresh or frozen-thawed embryo transfer. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol [Internet]. 2017;218:119–22. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2017.09.021
6. Qu F, Wang FF, Wu Y, Zhou J, Robinson N, Hardiman PJ, et al. Transcutaneous Electrical Acupoint Stimulation Improves the Outcomes of In Vitro Fertilization: A Prospective, Randomized and Controlled Study. Explore [Internet]. 2017;13(5):306–12. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2017.06.004
7. Qian Y, Xia XR, Ochin H, Huang C, Gao C, Gao L, et al. Therapeutic effect of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2017;295(3):543–58.