If you are looking for a natural and effective way to improve your fertility and IVF results, you may want to consider acupuncture as a complementary therapy. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese technique that uses thin needles to stimulate specific points on the body and balance the energy flow. Acupuncture can enhance IVF outcomes by improving the physical and emotional aspects of fertility, such as blood flow, hormone levels, stress, and anxiety.

At Metro Acupuncture, for over twenty years we have helped many people achieve their fertility goals through personalized acupuncture treatment plans that match their individual needs. Our experienced practitioners have combined acupuncture while patients are undergoing IVF treatments to support and optimize their treatment outcomes.

In this article, we will show you how acupuncture can boost your IVF success rates by improving your ovarian function, enhancing your uterine receptivity, reducing your stress levels, and balancing your hormones. We will also share with you some of the latest research findings that support the effectiveness of acupuncture for IVF.

At Metro Acupuncture, we understand that every fertility journey is unique and personal. That’s why we offer a customized approach to acupuncture treatment that is tailored to your specific needs and goals. Our experienced and compassionate acupuncturists will work with you to create a holistic plan that supports your physical, mental, and emotional well-being throughout your IVF cycle.

If you are ready to take the next step in your fertility journey and increase your chances of a positive IVF outcome, contact us today and let us help you explore the benefits of acupuncture at Metro Acupuncture. We are here to support you every step of the way.

Understanding IVF and its Challenges

Many couples around the world face the challenge of infertility, which is the inability to conceive a child after one year of regular unprotected intercourse. It affects about 8 to 12% of couples globally, and it is more prevalent among women, with about 15% of women experience infertility.

For about a hundred years researchers and clinicians have been developing various methods to help women overcome infertility and achieve their dream of motherhood. These methods are called assisted reproductive technologies (ART), and they include intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF). Even though ART success rates having continued to improve over time we are not at a 100% success rate yet, meaning that some women still fail to conceive even after undergoing these treatments.

That’s why some researchers are exploring the possibility of combining ART with Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), which are natural and holistic approaches that aim to improve the overall well-being and balance of the body. By using CAM along with ART, they hope to enhance the effectiveness of the existing treatments and increase the likelihood of conception.

One of the most popular CAM methods that women are opting for is acupuncture, which is an East-Asian medical technique that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy and promote healing. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat various health conditions, including infertility.

Surprisingly, surveys have shown that between 8% and 47% of women who undergo IVF also have acupuncture sessions (2). So, if you are struggling with infertility and undergoing fertility treatments, you might want to consider adding some complementary approaches like acupuncture to boost your chances of having a baby.

What You Need to Know About IVF

IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. This means fertilizing an egg in a lab. IVF is a fertility treatment that helps people who want to have a baby but cannot get pregnant naturally. It involves creating embryos outside the body by combining eggs and sperm, and then transferring them into the woman’s uterus.

  • How IVF works

IVF usually consists of several steps that take place over a few weeks:

  • Ovarian stimulation: The woman takes hormones to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This increases the chances of getting viable embryos.
  • Egg retrieval: The eggs are collected from the ovaries using a needle guided by ultrasound. The woman may be sedated or anesthetized during this process.
  • Sperm collection: The male partner provides a semen sample, which is processed to separate and select the best sperm.
  • Fertilization: The eggs and sperm are combined in a lab, either by conventional insemination or by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected into each egg.
  • Embryo culture: The fertilized eggs (embryos) are cultured in a lab, where they are monitored for development and quality.
  • Embryo transfer: One or more embryos are transferred into the woman’s uterus using a thin catheter. The number of embryos transferred depends on the age of the woman, the quality of the embryos, and the preference of the couple.
  • Pregnancy test: About two weeks after the embryo transfer, a blood test is done to measure the hormone hCG, which indicates if pregnancy has occurred.

Benefits and challenges of IVF

IVF can offer hope to many people who want to have a baby but face infertility issues. Some of the benefits of IVF (3) are:

  • It can overcome various causes of infertility, such as blocked fallopian tubes, low sperm count, endometriosis, or ovulation disorders.
  • It can allow genetic testing of the embryos before transfer, which can prevent certain inherited diseases or chromosomal abnormalities.
  • It can give the couple more control over the timing and number of children they want to have.
  • It can use donated eggs, sperm, or embryos if the couple cannot use their own gametes or if they want to avoid passing on genetic conditions.

However, with IVF not being a 100% guarantee of success and it comes with several challenges and risks that need to be considered before undergoing treatment. Some of the challenges associated with IVF are:

  • Success rates: Success rates continue to improve but there are not at 100%. Many factors can influence the outcome of IVF, and some couples may need several cycles to get pregnant.
  • Multiple pregnancies: IVF can lead to more than one baby in the same pregnancy, especially when transferring multiple embryos. This can cause health problems for the mother and the babies, and emotional stress for the parents.
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): IVF involves stimulating the ovaries with drugs, which can sometimes cause them to swell and leak fluid. This can cause serious symptoms such as pain, nausea, weight gain, and breathing difficulties.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: IVF can result in the fertilized egg implanting outside the uterus, usually in the tube. This can cause bleeding, pain, and damage to the tube. It may require surgery or medication to treat it, and it can affect future fertility.
  • Psychological stress: IVF can be emotionally challenging for both partners, as they face uncertainty, disappointment, frustration, guilt, anxiety, depression, isolation, and financial burden. They may need professional counseling or support group to cope with IVF.

IVF is a powerful and hopeful option for many people who want to have a baby, but this does not mean it always works. IVF can be physically demanding, emotionally draining, and financially stressful. It can also take multiple cycles and years of trying before achieving a positive outcome. Therefore, it is important to consider other ways to support your IVF journey and increase your chances of conceiving.

What are adjunctive therapies and how can they help IVF patients?

Many patients who undergo IVF treatment look for additional interventions that may increase their chances of conceiving. These interventions, known as adjunctive therapies or complementary therapy, include various modalities such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary supplements, and others (4). Acupuncture is one of the most popular and promising adjunctive therapies for IVF. Acupuncture have several benefits for IVF patients, such as:

  • Improving ovarian function and blood circulation to the uterus
  • Regulating hormone levels and reducing stress and anxiety
  • Enhancing pregnancy rates and live birth rates

Acupuncture can be performed at different stages of the IVF process, depending on individual needs and practitioner recommendations. It is important to consult with a qualified acupuncturist experienced in fertility treatments to ensure proper care.

How Acupuncture Works and Its Benefits for Health

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that originated in China thousands of years ago. It involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the nerves and restore the balance of energy and blood. Acupuncture has been proven to have various clinical benefits, such as relieving pain, reducing stress, and improving reproductive health. In this article, we will explore how acupuncture works, what are its benefits, and what are some of the modern techniques that enhance its effects (5).

  • The Principles of Acupuncture

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the body is governed by a vital force called qi (pronounced “chee”), which flows through channels called meridians. When the flow of qi is disrupted or blocked, it can cause illness and disease. Acupuncture aims to restore the harmony of qi by stimulating specific points on the meridians, called acupoints. By inserting needles into these points, acupuncturists can activate the sensory nerves in the skin and muscles, which send signals to the brain and spinal cord. These signals can regulate the activity of the nervous system, which controls various functions and organs in the body (5).

Acupuncture points used for in vitro fertilization.

The Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used to treat a wide range of conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraines, nausea, sinus congestion, infertility, addiction, and skin problems. Research has shown that acupuncture can have significant effects on the body and mind (5), such as:

  • Relieving pain: Acupuncture can stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by the body. Acupuncture can also reduce inflammation and swelling, which are common causes of pain.
  • Reducing stress: Acupuncture can lower the levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that is released in response to stress. Acupuncture can also increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that are involved in mood regulation and happiness.
  • Improving reproductive health: Acupuncture can influence the secretion of hormones that affect fertility and menstrual cycles. Acupuncture can also improve blood circulation and oxygen delivery to the reproductive organs, which can enhance their function and quality.
  • Boosting immunity: Acupuncture can modulate the immune system by increasing or decreasing the production of antibodies and cytokines, which are molecules that fight infections and inflammation. Acupuncture can also stimulate the lymphatic system, which is responsible for removing toxins and waste from the body.
  • The Modern Techniques of Acupuncture

Traditional acupuncture requires skilled practitioners who can manipulate the needles manually to achieve optimal results. However, modern techniques have been developed to overcome some of the limitations and challenges of traditional acupuncture. One of these techniques is called electro-acupuncture:

  • Electroacupuncture (EA): This technique involves attaching electrodes to the needles and applying microcurrent waves to them. This enhances the stimulation of the nerves and increases the effects of acupuncture. EA has been shown to be effective for conditions such as anovulation, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hormone imbalance, immune dysfunction, oxidative stress, and cell regeneration.

Clinical Research: How Acupuncture Can Improve IVF Outcomes

IVF is a common assisted reproductive technology. Acupuncture has been proposed as a way to increase the chances of IVF success by improving the quality of eggs and embryos, increasing hormone levels necessary for pregnancy, enhancing the blood flow to the uterus, reducing the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), and alleviating anxiety in IVF patients.

Several randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (6) have shown that acupuncture can increase the clinical pregnancy rate in IVF patients. For example, a meta-analysis of seven trials involving 1,366 women found that acupuncture performed on the day of embryo transfer was associated with statistically significant improvements in the rates of clinical pregnancies, ongoing pregnancies, and live births (7). The researchers estimated that 10 women would need to be treated with IVF and acupuncture to see one additional pregnancy.

EA has also demonstrated positive effects on IVF patients. EA treatment has been linked to an increase in high-quality embryos and live birth rates (6). However, the duration of EA treatment may influence its effectiveness, with longer treatment cycles showing better results.

Transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS), another form of electrical stimulation, has been investigated in IVF patients as well. TEAS has shown promising results in increasing the clinical pregnancy and live birth rates (8).

Clinical Research: How Acupuncture Can Help Women with PCOS

PCOS is a common endocrine disorder that affects up to 10% of women of reproductive age. PCOS is characterized by irregular or absent ovulation, high levels of male hormones, and multiple cysts on the ovaries. PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. Acupuncture has been suggested as a way to improve ovulation function, hormone levels, and endometrial morphology in women with PCOS (6).

RCTs have reported an increase in the clinical pregnancy rate in PCOS patients who received acupuncture as an adjuvant treatment (8,9). Acupuncture has been found to improve ovulation rates, hormone levels, and endometrial morphology in PCOS patients. However, the therapeutic effects of acupuncture before pregnancy may not necessarily translate into improved live birth rates.

Animal Studies: How Acupuncture Can Affect Fertility-Related Factors

Animal studies have provided further insights into the mechanisms behind acupuncture’s effects on fertility. In PCO rats, repeated EA stimulation has been shown to regulate the release of certain substances in the hypothalamus and ovaries, leading to improved ovulation function. EA treatment has also been found to enhance the ovarian neuroendocrine function and reduce testosterone levels in PCO rats (10).

Acupuncture has been shown to regulate hormone levels, improve ovarian function, and promote follicular development in rats with premature ovarian failure (POF). It has also been associated with increased litter size and improved fertility in POF mice (11).

Acupuncture and IVF: How It Works and Why You Should Try It

Acupuncture aims to restore the balance and flow of qi by stimulating certain points on the meridians with needles. By doing so, acupuncture can affect various physiological systems in the body that are involved in reproduction (12), such as:

  • The hormonal system: Acupuncture can regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis, which is responsible for controlling ovulation, menstruation, and pregnancy. By modulating this axis, acupuncture can help women with anovulatory infertility to ovulate naturally or respond better to fertility drugs. Acupuncture can also balance the levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are essential for a healthy endometrium and embryo development.
  • The circulatory system: Acupuncture can improve blood flow to the uterus and ovaries by relaxing the muscles and nerves around them. This can help improve the quality of the eggs produced by the ovaries and increase the chances of implantation by creating a more hospitable environment for the embryo. Acupuncture can also reduce uterine contractions, which can interfere with implantation or cause miscarriage.
  • The immune system: Acupuncture can modulate the immune response by promoting the production of T-helper cells, which are important for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. These cells can prevent inflammation, infection, and rejection of the embryo by the mother’s body.  Acupuncture can also reduce the levels of Natural Killer (NK) cells, which are known to be elevated in women with recurrent pregnancy loss.
  • The psychological system:  Acupuncture can reduce stress and anxiety associated with IVF by triggering the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers. Endorphins can lower the levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that can negatively affect fertility. Acupuncture can also calm the mind and induce a state of relaxation and well-being.

How to Incorporate Acupuncture into Your IVF Treatment

The frequency and timing of your acupuncture sessions (13) may vary depending on your condition and your IVF schedule. However, some general guidelines are:

  • Before starting IVF: You may benefit from having weekly or biweekly sessions for at least three months before starting IVF to prepare your body and mind for the treatment.
  • During ovarian stimulation: You may have one or two sessions per week during this phase to support your ovarian response and egg quality.
  • Before and after embryo transfer: You may have one session before ET to relax your uterus and increase blood flow, and another session after ET to enhance implantation and prevent uterine contractions.
  • During early pregnancy: You may have one session per week until week 12 to support fetal development and prevent miscarriage.

Of course, these are only suggestions, and you should always follow your acupuncturist’s advice on when and how often to have acupuncture.


Are you ready to supercharge your IVF journey with acupuncture? Don’t wait any longer – book your appointment with Metro Acupuncture today and let us help you achieve your dreams of parenthood. Acupuncture is a safe, gentle, and effective therapy that can boost your IVF success at every stage. Whether you need to improve your egg quality, prepare your uterus lining, balance your immune system, or reduce your anxiety, acupuncture has got you covered.

At Metro Acupuncture, we have a team of skilled practitioners who specialize in acupuncture for IVF. We will provide you with personalized care and unwavering support throughout your IVF adventure. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to increase your chances of IVF success. Give acupuncture a try today and discover the amazing benefits of this ancient therapy.


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