Acupuncture for INFERTILITY

Fertility Testimonials

Why Acupuncture?

Acupuncture and herbs help to improve ovarian and follicular function.  It has been shown that acupuncture can increase blood flow to the endometrium, helping to facilitate a thick, rich lining. "It can allow you to cross the line from infertile to fertile by helping your body function more efficiently, which in turn allows other, more modern reproductive treatments, like IVF, to also work more efficiently," says James Dillard, MD, assistant clinical professor, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and clinical adviser to Columbia's Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

In a study of 160 women, published April 2002 in the reproductive journal Fertility and Sterility, a group of German researchers found that adding acupuncture to the traditional IVF treatment protocols substantially increased pregnancy success. Magarelli and Cridennda released findings in Italy involving patients with an average prognosis for IVF success. Those yielded clear numbers that the pregnancy rate increased with acupuncture by 24 percent, according to Magarelli.

What types of infertility patients typically get acupuncture?

Acupuncture can be used for infertility conditions such as spasmed tubes, hormonal imbalance including elevated follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), repeated pregnancy loss, unexplained (idiopathic) infertility, luteal phase defect, hyperprolactinemia (when not caused by a prolactinoma), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with anovulatory cycles, and male factor including men affected with sperm-DNA-fragmentation, low sperm count, motility, or morphology (acupuncture for 3-6 months).

When should acupuncture sessions begin?

Those interested in conceiving naturally should plan for at least 3 months of acupuncture, every other week throughout your cycle.  Clinical evidence has shown that patients who get acupuncture 1-2 months before an insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or donor-egg transfer, and continued during the whole process have improved rates of success.  That way when the woman's cycle begins, her hormones are restored, strengthened, and balanced.

In the beginning, acupuncture can be done anywhere in your cycle as your whole cycle is geared for baby-making.  Once we get to know your cycle better, we can look at targeting specific areas that may need more support later on.  

When should I stop getting acupuncture?

Typically most miscarriages occur within the first 3 months of pregnancy. Therefore, acupuncture may often last through week 12 to lower the risk of miscarriage for factors that can be affected (genetic or structural defects cannot be changed by acupuncture).  Acupuncture throughout pregnancy is optional.

What are the risks of using acupuncture?

There are minimal risks when using acupuncture for infertility.  Licensed acupuncturists are trained in contraindicated acupuncture points when a woman becomes pregnant.

How may acupuncture work for infertility?

                Acupuncture may improve sperm quality and counts in infertile men.

                Acupuncture may improve the lining of the endometrium, including increasing the blood flow to the uterus.

                Acupuncture may help regulate hormone levels, specifically gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which in turn may improve ovulation rates.

                Acupuncture may help women with PCOS and anovulatory cycles.

                Acupuncture may help those with thyroid problems, as thyroid issues can lead to problems with fertility

                Acupuncture may increase the number of follicles produced during an IVF cycle.

In studies published in the journal Fertility and Sterility in 2002, Chang, along with noted Cornell University reproductive endocrinologist Zev Rosenwaks, MD, found a clear link between acupuncture and the brain hormones involved in conception. Chang says acupuncture has a neuroendocrine effect, impacting a three-way axis between the two areas of the brain involved with hormone production (the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands) and the ovaries, a constellation that ultimately impacts egg production and possibly ovulation.  Their research noted that acupuncture increases production of endorphins, the body's natural "feel good" brain chemical that also plays a role in regulating the menstrual cycle.

Acupuncture is also a stress-reliever during an emotional time.  Part of acupuncture's success is relaxation. When the body is relaxed, all systems function better.  A paper published in Social Science and Medicine stated that psychosocial factors, like ineffective coping strategies, anxiety, and/or depression are associated with a lower pregnancy rate following IVF-procedures.  Support has been found that stress reduction through relaxation training or behavioral treatment improves conception rates.

"Acupuncture works to restore the flow of Qi -- your body energy -- so with regards to infertility, it has a calming, restorative effect that increases a sense of well-being and ultimately helps the body to accept the creation of life," says acupuncturist Ifeoma Okoronkwo, MD, a professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine.

Research Studies Demonstrating the Effectiveness of Combining Acupuncture with IUI or IVF

A comparative retrospective study of 123 women aged 28-46 years old, undergoing IUI, at a hospital.  Women who received weekly acupuncture, had higher pregnancy and birth rates, compared to those who did not receive acupuncture.

Link to Study

A systematic review and meta-analysis of 23 randomized controlled trials with 5598 women, demonstrates that acupuncture, especially around the time of controlled ovarian stimulation, improves pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing IVF, compared to no acupuncture or placebo acupuncture groups.

Link to Study

A study of 100 women undergoing IVF/ICSI, had an acupuncture group receiving body and ear acupuncture before and after embryo transfer, and the control group with no acupuncture.  The pregnancy rate was 46% in the acupuncture group versus 26% in the control group.

Link to Study

Clinical pregnancy rates for women receiving acupuncture before and after IVF embryo transfer resulted in 39% compared to 26% for women with no acupuncture, and ongoing pregnancy rate of 36% compared to 22% with no acupuncture.

Link to Study

A systematic review and meta-analysis of 7 randomized controlled trials with 1366 women undergoing IVF, compared acupuncture within 1 day of embryo transfer either before or after, with sham acupuncture or no acupuncture.  The review concluded that acupuncture given around embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing IVF.

Link to Study

Acupuncture 2-3 days after IVF embryo transfer, has a positive effect on the outcome of IVF/ICSI according to a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study of 225 women.  116 women receiving acupuncture 2-3 days post embryo transfer, resulted in a clinical pregnancy rate of 33.6%, and ongoing pregnancy rate of 28.4%, compared to 109 patients that received placebo acupuncture, with a clinical pregnancy rate of 15.6%, and ongoing pregnancy rate of 13.8%.

Link to Study

Adding acupuncture 2 days post IVF embryo transfer, did not seem to make a statistical difference compared with just receiving acupuncture before and after embryo transfer, with a clinical pregnancy rate of 36% and ongoing pregnancy rate of 26%, compared to 39% clinical pregnancy rate and 26% ongoing pregnancy rate for women just receiving acupuncture before and after embryo transfer.

Link to Study

Why Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine has helped countless men and women resolve fertility challenges and conceive safely and cost-effectively.  Naturopathic doctors look at each person as a unique individual, and guide couples in improving fertility and achieving a healthy pregnancy and baby.  Appointments cover family history, medical history, nutrition, physical activity, environmental exposures, sleep patterns, and psycho-emotional stressors.  You can expect a conversation about your lifestyle, menstrual cycle, and what you have been doing to try to conceive.  There are a wide variety of reasons a couple may have difficulty, although some receive a diagnosis from conventional doctors, many have 'unexplained fertility.'  Fertility challenges can be caused by poor sperm health, poor egg quality, hormonal imbalances, impaired metabolism, and more.  A number of root causes are linked to lifestyle and environmental factors, and naturopathic doctors are trained to look for and uncover these underlying issues.

There are many safe, natural, and effective lifestyle modifications, and therapies that can address these issues, strengthen your overall health, and improve your chances of getting pregnant.  With rigorous training in clinical nutrition, lifestyle counseling, botanical medicine and more, naturopathic doctors are experts at empowering patients to make lifestyle changes, proven to improve health outcomes.  Preconception care has been shown to enhance fertility and lead to healthier outcomes, both for couples conceiving naturally and those that are using assisted reproductive technology.  Naturopathic medicine works to help you cultivate a healthy body first to maximize pregnancy success and nourish the growth of a healthy baby.  

The journey to pregnancy can feel like a physical and emotional roller coaster.  Naturopathic medicine provides a high level of emotional and psychological support from start to finish, which has been shown to improve pregnancy success rates (  

Health For Life Clinic: Natural Medicine & Acupuncture 
112 N. Cornell Ave., Lancaster, PA 17603
(717) 669-1050
M-F 9am-7pm EST, Sat-Sun closed