Does Acupuncture Work for Fertility?

Breeze Academy February 7, 2023
Image of a woman holding her pregnant belly

Infertility and struggling to get pregnant can be an incredibly stressful, frustrating and upsetting experience that drives some couples to try any number of healthcare treatments. One such treatment is Acupuncture for fertility. In this article, we explore whether or not Acupuncture can help with fertility problems, how it works, and the Acupuncture points associated with fertility. 

So, does Acupuncture work for fertility? Acupuncture is thought to help with fertility by, effectively, readying the body for pregnancy. This includes regulating the menstrual cycle, regulating hormones, improving both egg and sperm quality, optimising the uterine environment, and reducing stress and anxiety. 

Read on to learn more about how Acupuncture can help with fertility in both men and women.

Can Acupuncture Help with Fertility?

A 2018 study shows that acupuncture for fertility is a successful treatment in both men and women. The treatment is thought to improve sperm count and ovary function, as well as balance the endocrine system and hormones. What’s more, acupuncture can help to boost circulation and relieve stress, both of which can be positive influences on fertility.

Further to this, some recommend Acupuncture for a number of fertility-related conditions such as:

  • Regulating the menstrual cycle
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Relieving some side effects associated with fertility drugs

That being said, there is currently a lack of evidence to prove that Acupuncture for fertility is successful due to inconsistent results. However, experts have admitted that these inconsistencies may be because Acupuncture was not administered in the optimum way; "In these studies, two sessions of acupuncture tend to be given at around the time of embryo transfer and it's debatable whether that's sufficient, or the best time to do it,".

This is supported with more recent evidence from London’s Homerton Hospital showing that women who had four acupuncture sessions during their fertility treatment cycle achieved a 46.2% pregnancy rate, compared with 21.7% among women who had not had acupuncture. 

Can Acupuncture Help Male Fertility?

Sources explain that Acupuncture may have a positive impact on male fertility, in particular, sperm quality, mobility and concentration. One study reported that after five weeks of Acupuncture treatment, there was a reduced number of structural abnormalities in sperm, and an increased number of normal sperm in men with fertility problems. Researches suggest that, as a result of this, Acupuncture may complement traditional infertility treatments, and could help men to achieve their “full reproductive potential”.

However, like with more general Acupuncture for fertility research, many studies come with the disclaimer that there is a lack of research in this field and that further large, well-designed clinical trials are required.

Can Acupuncture Help With Fertility Treatment?

It is thought that Acupuncture helps with fertility treatment by reducing stress and anxiety levels in women. There is also some evidence to suggest that Acupuncture may help to regulate the menstrual cycle, balance the endocrine system and hormones, boost circulation and improve ovary function (although, this is contested). 

This may have a positive effect on fertility treatment by effectively readying the body for implantation. However, there is strong debate in the medical community as to whether these health benefits actually significantly improve an individual’s chance of becoming pregnant.

How Does Acupuncture Work for Fertility?

As we previously mentioned, Acupuncture for fertility works by, effectively, readying the body for pregnancy. This includes:

  • Regulating the menstrual cycle
  • Regulating fertility hormones
  • Helps to increase the number of “good” quality eggs
  • Helps to optimise the uterine environment
  • Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
  • In men, helps to improve spread quality and count

How Long Does Acupuncture for Fertility Take to Work?

Experts disagree on how long it takes Acupuncture for fertility to work, however, as a guide, their opinions range from 1-3 months, 2-3 months, and  3-6 months. Meanwhile, others recommend approximately 10-12 Acupuncture sessions as a starting point. 

Further to this, some experts also recommend continuing treatment after fertility treatment to increase chances of successful implantation.

Fertility Acupuncture Points

The most common Acupuncture points for fertility  in both men and women include the head, ears, hands, lower legs, feet and abdomen. These are:

Zigongxue: Uterus Point

Located along the centreline, a thumbs-width above the public bone, this Acupuncture site is useful in treating conditions linked to the uterus (e.g. dysmenorrhea, infertility and uterine prolapse)

CV2: Curved Bone

The CV2 Acupuncture point is located in the centre of the public bone and is used to treat issues associated with female discharge, dysmenorrhea and irregular cycles. It can also be used to treat male infertility.

CV5: Stone Gate

The CV5 Acupuncture point is located 3 body inches above the pubic bone. It helps to treat both male and female infertility as well as abdominal pain and gastrointestinal issues.

ST30: Surging Qi

Located on the inner groin, the ST30 point is used to treat male infertility and to regulate menstrual conditions such as irregular bleeding, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, and abnormal bleeding.

KD13: Qi Hole

This Acupuncture point is located along the kidney meridian and is useful for treating abdominal and/gynaecological conditionals.

Final Thoughts

Whilst there is debate surrounding the success of Acupuncture for fertility, recent studies suggest a reasonable success rate, particularly when considered against the expert opinion that the Acupuncture treatment in some older studies (which reported Acupuncture to be ineffective) was not conducted properly. That being said, there is no doubt that further research is required to truly understand the effectiveness of Acupuncture for fertility.

If you’re a healthcare professional interested in exploring Acupuncture for fertility, Breeze Academy offers a number of beginner, intermediate and advanced Acupuncture courses across the UK. Learn more online today or get in touch with our team for further information.

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