Acupuncture and fertility treatment dates back at least 2000 years. This ancient technique improves fertility rates and supports a woman’s whole body, unlocking unlimited potential for health and childbearing.
Many studies have demonstrated that acupuncture dramatically improves fertility and the chances of becoming pregnant when used in conjunction with other assisted reproductive techniques. A German clinical study performed by Dr. Paulus et al.  evaluated the effect of fertility acupuncture by comparing a group of patients receiving acupuncture treatment shortly before and after embryo transfer (ET) with a control group receiving no acupuncture. Clinical pregnancies were documented in 34 of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3% (21 out of 80 patients) in the control group.
Another research group demonstrated similar results with regard to acupuncture and fertility: Treatment on the day of ET significantly improves fertility and the reproductive outcome of IVF/ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), compared with no acupuncture group. One group (ACU 1) of patients received acupuncture on the day of ET, another group (ACU 2) on ET day and again 2 days later (i.e., closer to implantation day), and both groups were compared with a control group that did not receive acupuncture. Clinical and ongoing pregnancy rates were significantly higher in both acupuncture groups as compared with controls (37 of 95 [39%] vs. 21 of 87 [26%] and 34 of 95 [36%] vs. 19 of 87 [22%]). The clinical and ongoing fertility rates in the ACU 2 group (36% and 26%) were higher than in controls, but the difference did not reach statistical difference .
Although the understanding of acupuncture is based on ancient medical theory, studies have suggested that certain fertility effects of acupuncture are mediated through endogenous opioid peptides in the central nervous system, particularly beta-endorphin. Because these neuropeptides influence gonadotropin secretion through their action on GnRH, it is logical to hypothesize that acupuncture may impact on the menstrual cycle through these neuropeptides and provide infertility treatment.
Besides its central effect, the sympathoinhibitory effects of acupuncture may impact on uterine blood flow .
So, in taking a closer look at acupuncture and fertility we find that there are multiple mechanisms of action.
Acupuncture is also known to improve male fertility. A study published in Fertility and Sterility Journal demonstrated that acupuncture helped infertile men by improving the quality of sperm in their semen. In the research project, 28 men received acupuncture twice a week over a period of 5 weeks in addition to traditional infertility treatments, while another group of 12 men received only the traditional treatments.
All of the men were diagnosed with infertility of unknown origin. Acupuncture was associated with fewer structural defects in the sperm of men who received it, although it had no effect on other abnormalities, such as sperm immaturity or premature death. Previous studies have shown a link between acupuncture and improved sperm production and motility .
We can see from examining the evidence on acupuncture and fertility, that couples would do well to seek out treatment together.
1. Paulus, W.E., Zhang, M., Strehler, E. et al. (2002). Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertility and Sterility, 77(4), 721 – 724.
2. Westergaard, L.G., Mao, Q., Krogslund, M., et al. (2006). Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial. Fertility and Sterility, 85(5), 1341-1346.
3. Chang, R., Chung, P.H., Rosenwaks, Z. (2002). Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Fertility and Sterility, 78(6), 1149-1153.
4. Pei, J., Strehler, E., Noss, U. et al. (2005). Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertility and Sterility, 84(1), 141-147.