Let’s talk about acupuncture and IVF. First the million dollar question: DOES ACUPUNCTURE INCREASE IVF SUCESS RATES? The million dollar answer is YES. You do not have to take my word for it; multiple studies published in peer reviewed top medical journals around the world agree with me. The British Medical Journal published a review of all the relevant acupuncture/IVF studies to date and their conclusion was that acupuncture does in fact increase your chance of getting pregnant when undergoing IVF.
The BMJ is one of the most revered medical journals in the world. So the “jury is not out” on whether acupuncture increases pregnancy rates with IVF. The best journals in the world conclude that it absolutely does.
Now, how exactly does acupuncture increase pregnancy rates with IVF? From a western medicine perspective there have been studies showing acupuncture increases blood flow (which can contribute to a thicker uterine lining), it increases levels of estrogen (indicating increased follicle/egg growth) and progesterone, increases levels of “happy relaxing” neurotransmitters all of which would contribute to a healthy pregnancy. Acupuncture certainly decreases stress levels. Many of the reproductive endocrinologists that I work with have expressed how much calmer their patients are when doing acupuncture in addition to IVF. I have certainly noticed that acupuncture not only relaxes my patients but it also helps mitigate the side effects of IVF drugs like headaches, night sweats, insomnia etc… I have also noticed clinically that my patients have a much lower incidence of ectopic pregnancy when undergoing IVF but that is a discussion for another post.
How does acupuncture increase pregnancy rates from an eastern perspective? In Chinese Medicine we talk about the flow of the energy of the body or “qi”. When we internalize stress our “qi” gets stuck and we experience all sorts of symptoms like fatigue, irritability, insomnia, headaches, tight muscles, decreased blood flow etc… I like to think of acupuncture needles as ‘little gas release valves’ that release all that internalized stress helping the whole body relax and get back into the flow. When your body is relaxed everything functions better; the digestive system, the immune system and especially the reproductive system.
In conclusion: in addition to being wonderful and relaxing, acupuncture has also been scientifically proven to help get you pregnant.