Acupuncture and Fertility

June 27, 2013 12:24 pm

 Acupuncture fertility treatment

Acupuncture is becoming more and more popular amongst patients having fertility treatment. It is most commonly used for its general benefits to patients and is also used more specifically for patients having IVF, where treatments shortly before and after embryo transfer are desired.

Melanie Hackwell, is a true believer in the benefits of acupuncture and you cannot help but be uplifted by her enthusiasm. Melanie originally had acupuncture treatment to help with her own fertility. Not one to do things by halves, she studied in London and China, received her certification and started Ancient Roots Acupuncture and Chinese Massage to pass on the benefits here in London. She practices in Balham and Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden as well as in our own rooms in Putney.

Traditional acupuncture is a well-known form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which has been used in China and other eastern cultures for over 2000 years to restore, promote and maintain good health. In the UK acupuncture now features prominently in mainstream medicine and its benefits are widely acknowledged worldwide.  It works on the principles that fine needles inserted into the body can remove blockages that have occurred, and can thus restore the individual to full health and vitality. From a biomedical viewpoint, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system, influencing the production of the body’s hormones and neurotransmitters. The resulting changes activate the body’s self-regulating homeostatic systems, stimulating its natural healing abilities and promoting physical and emotional wellbeing (BAC Fact Sheet, 2011).

Many couples are increasingly turning to traditional acupuncture to help with conception, and this includes the treatment of both men and women. In women, studies show that acupuncture can regulate the menstrual cycle and promote ovulation by controlling hormonal imbalances, increasing ovarian and uterine blood flow and endometrial thickness and reducing stress levels, thus helping to increase the chance of conception (Zheng et al, 2012).  In men, traditional acupuncture treatment has been shown to influence the quality and quantity of male sperm, improving motility and sperm count (Pei et al, 2005).

Studies have also shown that acupuncture can counteract the effects of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is one of the most common causes of female infertility. By reducing sympathetic nerve activity and balancing hormone levels, acupuncture has been shown to reduce the number of ovarian cysts, stimulate ovulation, enhance blastocyst implantation and regulate the menstrual cycle in women with PCOS (Zhang 2009). It may also help to control secondary effects such as obesity and anorexia (Lim 2010).

If couples do choose to have assisted conception, many seek out acupuncture as a supportive treatment alongside assisted reproductive technology such as IVF and ICSI.  Wolfgang Paulus conducted a randomised control trial in 2002 in which the pregnancy rate for those patients receiving acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer was 34 out of 80 patients (42.5%) whereas pregnancy rates in the patients receiving no acupuncture was 21 out of 80 patients (26.3%)

Individuals may find it beneficial to receive acupuncture up to 3 months prior to undergoing IVF treatment, to bring the body back into alignment and to assist with stress reduction.  It is also recommended that patients use acupuncture before and after embryo transfer to assist with implantation.

Contact Melanie directly to make an appointment or to find out more.



British Acupuncture Council Fact Sheet, 2011

Paulus, W. (2002) ‘Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy’ Fertility and Sterility , 77(4) Amsterdam:  Elsevier Science

Pei, J., Strehler, E., Noss, U., Abt, M., Piomboni, P., Baccetti, B., Sterzik, K., (2005) ‘Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultra structure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility’ Fertility and Sterility  84(1) [Online]  Available at:

Zhang WY, Huang GY, Liu J. [Influences of acupuncture on infertility of rats with polycystic ovarian syndrome] [in Chinese] Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2009 Nov;29(11):997-1000.

Zheng, C.H., Huang, G.Y., Zhang M.M., Wang, W. (2012) ‘Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis’ Fertility and Sterility  97(3) Philadelphia: Elsevier Publishing

Lim CE, Wong WS. Current evidence of acupuncture on polycystic ovarian syndrome.Gynecol Endocrinol. 2010 Mar 16.

Stener-Victorin E, Wu X. Effects and mechanisms of acupuncture in the reproductive system. Auton Neurosci. 2010 Mar 27. [Epub ahead of print]



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This post was written by Concept Fertility