Approximately one in ten couples have difficulty conceiving, and assisted reproductive procedures are often used to achieve a successful pregnancy1. However, assisted reproductive procedures such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), have been scientifically proven to be more effective when acupuncture is provided directly before and after embryo transfers. Acupuncture is a non-invasive, all-natural way to improve your chances of becoming pregnant with assisted reproductive procedures by up to 65%(1).
Research shows that acupuncture works to improve the efficacy of IVF treatment in many ways. Acupuncture improves the function of the ovaries(2,3), regulates hormone levels(4), increases blood flow to the uterus5, and increases the thickness of the uterine lining(5). These factors increase likelihood of embryo implantation, as well as improve overall success rates for live birth.
Acupuncture affects both the central and peripheral nervous system to decreases stress and increase beta-endorphins(4), which helps to relax patients on their transfer day. Relaxation is important for preventing the uterus from contracting, which can negatively impact chances of conception. Acupuncture also strengthens the immune system, which improves the likelihood of having a successful ongoing pregnancy(6).
Several studies have found that acupuncture prior to and immediately after embryo transfer significantly increases pregnancy and live birth outcomes by up to 65%(1).
A meta-analysis published in the prestigious British Medical Journal was conducted on1,366 women undergoing IVF(1). The analysis concluded that pre and post embryo transfer acupuncture statistically significantly improved rates of clinical pregnancy by 65%, ongoing pregnancy by 87%, and live birth by 24%.
A study done by Paulus et al.(7) compared pregnancy rates in a total of one hundred and sixty patients undergoing IVF. Acupuncture was done in eighty patients twenty-five minutes before and after embryo transfer. The clinical pregnancy rate for the acupuncture group was 42.5% as compared to the control group of 26.3%.
Many other studies have been conducted since these, which provide more information and overwhelming support for the use of acupuncture in combination with IVF and other assisted reproductive treatments.
- Manheimer E et al. Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2008; 336:545.
- Stener-Victorin E, Waldenstrom U, Andersson SA, Wikland M. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Hum Reprod 1996;11:1314-7.
- Chang R, Chung PH, Rosenwaks Z. Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Fertil Steril 2002; 78: 1149-1153.
- Chen BY. Acupuncture normalizes dysfunction of hypothalamic- pituitary-ovarian axis. Acupunct Electrother Res 1997; 22:97-108.
- Stener-Victorin E. Reproductive Medicine: Research Projects in Acupuncture. Acupunct Med 1998; 16: 80-82.
- Johnson D. Acupuncture prior to and at embryo transfer in an assisted conception unit – a case series. Acupunct Med 2006; 24:23-28.
- Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertil Steril 2002; 77: 721- 724.