Infertility and Acupuncture

Infertility affects 1 in 6 couples. A further 1 in 4 then go on to use acupuncture through their IVF process.

At Sunderland Physiotherapy Clinic we regularly see couples, women in particular who are seeking Acupuncture treatment to assist them.

Below is a short summary of how Acupuncture may help.

Acupuncture regulates female reproductive hormones

Female reproductive hormones, many of which are released by the brain, very strictly regulate reproductive functions. One such hormone is Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). As its name suggests, FSH stimulates ovarian follicular growth and development. If FSH is raised, this means that brain has to work extra hard to develop and grow ovarian follicles and the eggs within them. Women who have raised FSH levels do not respond well to IVF ovarian stimulation medication and produce very few eggs.


Acupuncture may improve the quality and increase the quantity of eggs

All the reproductive hormones as well as nutrients necessary for ovarian follicles to develop and grow are delivered to the follicles directly through the blood supply that goes to them. Therefore, the better the blood flow, the more efficient is the delivery of hormones and nutrients and the greater the potential to produce better quality eggs.

Several research studies have shown that acupuncture increases blood flow to a woman’s reproductive organs by relaxing and opening up the blood vessels. Thus the response to IVF stimulation treatment is likely to be better in women, who have a good blood supply to their ovaries, thereby allowing better delivery of IVF medication. This could lead to more and better quality eggs being produced.


Acupuncture helps with embryo implantation

A growing body of evidence suggests that acupuncture increases embryo implantation rates. For example, in one recent study it was found that acupuncture significantly improved clinical pregnancy rates in patients with a history of two or more failed IVF cycles.

Embryo implantation is dependent on good blood supply to the uterus. Research shows that good blood supply to the uterus just before egg retrieval is associated with improved IVF conception rates. As already mentioned earlier, acupuncture can successfully increase the blood flow to the reproductive organs.

Implantation is also dependent on a normally functioning immune system. In some women, problems with the immune system stop the embryo from implanting. Considerable body of human and animal research shows that acupuncture helps to regulate the immune system.


Acupuncture reduces stress

Research shows that a diagnosis of infertility causes the same emotional suffering as a cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, high stress levels in couples that are struggling to conceive can further reduce their chances of conception. Stress can affect reproductive hormones, reduce sperm quality and quantity, it can cause the menstrual cycles to become shorter and this may shorten the luteal phase, therefore not allowing enough time for the embryo to implant.

Several studies have shown that acupuncture reduces anxiety and stress symptoms in sub-fertility patients. In particular, it also reduces cortisol levels, one of the body’s major stress hormones.

The world’s largest professional medical reproductive organisation The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends that infertile couples should try acupuncture as one of the ways to manage their infertility related stress.

Acupuncture is a safe and effective and supportive way to improve IVF success rates.

It does however not work instantly and will need careful planning for when to start the treatment process. This will all be discussed at your first Acupuncture session.

The therapist will take a detailed medical history and establish a treatment plan that suits the needs of they individual.

Often treatment may need to be started at least two to three months before starting IVF.

This is because ovarian follicles and the eggs within them take over a year to develop, and sperm takes around three months to be produced.

Acupuncture treatment may also need to be continued throughout all stages of IVF (stopping only after embryo transfer) but can then be safely started again during the 2nd & 3rd trimesters.

To book an appointment or make further enquiries please call us on

0191 5483 388 or email

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