advertisement

SPONSORED BY

Can acupuncture help me to conceive?

Amin Gafar

Fertility treatment expert.


Many couples firmly believe that when they got pregnant, it was having acupuncture that made all the difference. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that’s been practised for thousands of years. But does this mean you can count on it to boost your fertility?

The research into acupuncture and fertility has come up with mixed results. Many of the studies look at using acupuncture in a small number of people, which means it’s difficult to be sure about results. Researchers often use different acupuncture techniques and acupuncture points, which makes comparing results hard.

Also, it’s difficult to say whether or not the benefits of having acupuncture come from your belief and expectation that it will work, rather than from the acupuncture itself. This is called the placebo effect.

All of that means it’s not possible to say for sure whether acupuncture can help you to get pregnant. Most experts agree that we need larger and better studies before we really know whether acupuncture works or not.

These are some of the main research areas for acupuncture and fertility:

  • In-vitro fertilisation (IVF): In some research studies there were no benefits to having acupuncture, whereas in other studies women were more likely to become pregnant if they used it.
  • The quality of sperm: One recent piece of research showed that after men had acupuncture every fortnight for two months, their sperm moved better and there were more of them. The evidence for this isn't strong, though.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): In one small research study, women who had acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine alongside clomiphene (Clomid) were more likely to get pregnant. In another study, women who had acupuncture ovulated more often, compared with those who just had physical therapy sessions.
  • Anxiety: Some research shows that there are positive benefits to having acupuncture, and that anxiety levels go down, but more research is needed.

Acupuncture is based on the theory that there is a natural flow of energy through your body called qi (pronounced "chee"). If this flow of energy is blocked or changed in a part of your body, it shows where there is disease or illness.

Acupuncturists try to rebalance this flow of energy. There are different types of acupuncture, but most people have treatment using thin, solid metal needles. The acupuncturist puts these into your skin at specific places on your body, which stimulates the flow of energy.

So how does acupuncture work, if indeed it does work? The short answer is that nobody knows. Acupuncture could affect your hormone levels, and that, in turn, could affect how and when you ovulate. Or, it may increase the amount of blood to your womb (uterus) and ovaries. A blood-rich womb wall can give embryos a better chance of implanting.

On the whole, acupuncture is considered to be a safe treatment to have. However, it’s important that your acupuncturist uses sterile needles and is properly trained. Always look for a registered and properly qualified acupuncturist. The British Acupuncture Council can help you to find one near you.

If you decide to try acupuncture, you will probably have to pay for it, as it’s not usually available on the NHS. Sessions typically cost between £30 and £60 per session.

The bottom line is that acupuncture is relatively safe and, if you think it may help, it could be worth a try. The side-effects of acupuncture are mild and short-lived, but if you become pregnant and you’re still having acupuncture, let your midwife know.
Last reviewed: August 2016

References

Chang R, Chung PH, Rosenwaks Z. 2002. Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Fertil Steril. 78(6):1149-53

Dieterle S, Ying G, Hatzmann W, Neuer A. 2006. Effect of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study. Fertil Steril. 85(5):1347-51.

Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K. 2002. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertil Steril, 77(4):721-4

Pei J, Strehler E, Noss U, Abt M, Piomboni P, Baccetti B, Sterzik K. 2005. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertil Steril, 84(1):141-7

Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Lederman H, Bartoov B. 2000. Does acupuncture treatment affect sperm density in males with very low sperm count? A pilot study. Andrologia, 32(1):31-9

Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Zabludovsky N, Bartoov B. 1997. Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from subfertility related to low sperm quality. Arch Androl, 39(2):155-61

Westergaard LG, Mao Q, Krogslund M, Sandrini S, Lenz S, Grinsted J. 2006. Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial. Fertil Steril. 85(5):1341-6

Zhang M, Huang G, Lu F, Paulus WE, Sterzik K. 2002. Influence of acupuncture on idiopathic male infertility in assisted reproductive technology. J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci, 22(3):228-30
advertisement

Track your baby’s development

Join now to receive free weekly newsletters tracking your baby’s development and yours throughout your pregnancy.
Trying to conceive?
&

Comments

Log in or sign up to post a comment!

Join BabyCentre
Sign up to receive free emails and track your baby's development.

Our site uses cookies to store information on your computer.
We want to make your experience easy and help you quickly find information that matters to you. By using our site, we assume that you consent to our use of these cookies. To learn more about our cookies, including how to opt out, please review our .

Getting pregnant
Pregnancy
Baby
Toddler
Preschooler
Life as a parent
COMMUNITY
Meet other mums!
In your Birth Club, you can meet other mums and mums-to-be whose due date, or baby's birth date, is the same as yours. It's the perfect place to share advice, support and friendship with others who know what you're going through, because they are too!
BLOG