Acupuncture is an adjunct therapy originating from ancient Chinese medicine practices, and it is lately being used to help women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Can acupuncture help IVF success rates?

Research suggests that acupuncture at specific times in the cycle does help IVF results and patients, including myself, have benefitted (1).

Here’s my acupuncture pregnancy success story:

“I suffered from infertility before the birth of my son in 2016. At the time I started trying to conceive, I was only 27 and so infertility came as a shock to me.

I did not regain my regular periods back after being on contraceptives for many years, and this led to complications conceiving.

After 3 years of trying, I was offered Clomid treatment to help me to conceive. The doctors prescribed me three cycles of treatment, after which, if no success, I would be referred on for IVF treatment.

My first two cycles of Clomid treatment were unsuccessful. At this point I was very disheartened and willing to try alternative therapies in my desperation to conceive. This led me to trying complementary acupuncture treatment alongside my final cycle of Clomid.

To my absolute surprise, having twice weekly acupuncture sessions alongside this cycle led me to success! I carried on with my sessions after finding out I was pregnant, and they also helped me out greatly with my extreme morning sickness.

As a scientist I was never convinced by alternative therapies, however I have been well and truly converted now!”

Dr. Rachael Bailey, PhD

What happens in acupuncture?

During acupuncture treatment, thin needles are inserted into the skin at specific points. Chinese medicine states that there are energy pathways (meridians) which flow from these points and that stimulating them can help to treat a range of medical conditions.

What are the benefits of acupuncture for IVF?

Acupuncture has some great general health benefits which will help you on your journey to pregnancy.

These include:

Effect of acupuncture on female fertility

  • Regulating your fertility hormones and correcting any hormonal imbalances
  • Restoring absent or regulating erratic menstrual cycles
  • By stabilizing hormone levels, acupuncture can bring improvement in PCOS associated infertility
  • Improving the blood flow to your reproductive organs
  • Reducing stress and anxiety

Effect of acupuncture on male fertility

Even before sperm was discovered by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in 1677, Chinese herbal medicine was proving useful for male infertility.

Acupuncture helps boost male fertility by:

  • Improving sperm count and motility
  • Improving sperm morphology
  • Improving blood flow to the testicular artery and lowering the temperature in your scrotum, which are both favorable for healthier sperm.

When to start acupuncture for IVF?

As with the therapies for boosting your sperm count and improving egg quality before IVF, you should start acupuncture around 3 months before your IVF starts.

You may want to get treatment once or twice a week during the cycles you are trying to conceive.

Is acupuncture during IVF stimulation helpful?

Yes, if you’ve been doing acupuncture for IVF, you should discuss with your doctor and continue through the stimulation process. It can help correct minor hormonal issues and also keep you calm through the process.

Can you do acupuncture before egg retrieval?

Yes, it is common to schedule massages and acupuncture around the time of egg retrieval to help you relax and improve blood flow.

Should you do acupuncture before embryo transfer?

A study of almost 200 women found that a session of acupuncture 25 min before embryo transfer, significantly improved the IVF outcomes in women (2).

However, repeating the acupuncture session 25 min after the embryo transfer did not affect the IVF outcome.

Can I continue acupuncture after ET?

It is generally recommended as:

  • During follicle stimulation – have acupuncture twice a week for optimal effects
  • Have acupuncture before and after your embryo transfer
  • After that you can have acupuncture sessions regularly until your pregnancy test

Acupuncture can be carried on throughout your pregnancy and may help to prevent miscarriage and control symptoms, such as morning sickness.

It is imperative that it is carried out by a registered acupuncturist, familiar with pregnancy treatment to avoid any risks.

Are there any risks of acupuncture during IVF?

As long as your acupuncture is carried out by a registered practitioner the risks are minimal.

As mentioned above, the procedure needs to be adapted during pregnancy as using the wrong acupuncture points may harm the baby. So, it is very important to ensure your acupuncturist is aware of your pregnancy.

Whilst acupuncture does not guarantee success following IVF or IUI treatment, it can definitely boost your chances of a successful pregnancy. Whether you, your partner or both of you decide to have acupuncture, it can be a great way to relieve some of the stress and anxiety associated with your treatment.

If you’re wondering how acupuncture improves IVF success rates or consult with an expert for IVF success, get in touch. Our IVF packages start at $4,700 all inclusive.
  1. Stefan Dieterle, Gao Ying, Wolfgang Hatzmann, Andreas Neuer,Effect of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study, Fertility and Sterility,
  2. Dehghani, A. S., Homayouni, K., Kanannejad, Z., & Kanannejad, Z. (2020). The effect of acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer on the in vitro fertilization outcomes: An RCT. International journal of reproductive biomedicine18(3), 209–214.

Reviewd by: Dr. Meenakshi, PhD

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sign In


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.