Fertility

When to have fertility acupuncture, and why

Karla Perentin, Nature Heals  |   3 Feb 2023


Fertility acupuncture can be a useful treatment, whether you’re trying to conceive (TTC) naturally or with support like IVF or IUI. One of the key aspects is knowing where in your journey to start, from booking an appointment to confirming that first fertility acupuncture session with your practitioner.

We sat down with expert fertility acupuncturist Karla, from Nature Heals, to hear how acupuncture might support your journey, and when to add it into your TTC tool kit.

How can fertility acupuncture support conception?

Did you know that combining IVF with regular fertility acupuncture treatments significantly increases success rates?

Studies show that acupuncture can help to:

  • build the uterine lining, by increasing blood flow to the area
  • improve hormonal balance 
  • have more regular, and effective, ovulation
  • lower anxiety levels 
Can fertility acupuncture benefit men

Can fertility acupuncture benefit men?

Acupuncture can benefit anyone looking to improve their fertility. To increase the chance of conception, it is best to see both partners (if you have one) for an acupuncture consultation, to boost and maximise fertility.

This can give you a better chance of getting pregnant, especially if there is suspected male infertility. Studies show that in cases of male infertility, acupuncture for fertility can increase chances of getting pregnant.

What are the benefits of acupuncture for men?

Research on the effects of acupuncture on sperm shows a wide range of benefits, including boosts to:

  • sperm quality
  • sperm motility
  • sperm morphology
  • fertilisation rates during IVF

When to have fertility acupuncture

Acupuncture provides natural support for your fertility by elevating implantation rates, balancing hormones and supporting a healthy pregnancy.

The best time to see a practitioner is three period cycles before your planned conception, to prepare your body and give it the best possible foundation for success. It can take over a year for follicles to develop (from their primordial follicle state to dominant (Graafian) follicles), and be ready for fertilisation. In the five-month period before this, follicles will grow blood vessels, so nutrients and hormones in the blood supply can affect follicular development. Having treatments during this period helps to improve blood flow and ensure optimal nutrition across your ovarian and follicle development, as well as hormonal balance.

Women who are addressing diminished ovarian reserve, or who and have other specific conditions, may need to build in more acupuncture treatment – usually across three to six menstrual cycles.

Related article – Fertility yoga 101 – expert pointers and poses for when you’re TTC

Preparation during IVF and IUI cycles

If this is your first IVF or IUI treatment, when to have fertility acupuncture depends on your menstrual cycle. The recommendation is to start acupuncture for fertility eight to twelve weeks before your cycle.

If you have a history of failed IVF cycles, like with poor ovarian reserve, it is recommended that you have acupuncture treatments for a longer period of approximately three to six months for optimum fertility.

Acupuncture can improve IUI or IVF success rates by increasing blood flow to the ovaries actually during IVF or IUI treatment. It also helps relax the uterus and reduce uterine spasms after the IVF transfer, so that it is more receptive to the treatment.

In addition, acupuncture reduces stress hormones, leaving you feeling relaxed and restored in your mind and body by increasing oxytocin and endorphins. It also helps with side effects from the medication, such as hot flashes, anxiety and insomnia.

How stress impacts the body and fertility

How stress impacts the body and fertility

Stress is one of the most underestimated factors affecting your health. It causes insomnia, tension in the shoulders, as well as digestive and fertility issues – even more so if it turns into a chronic problem.

It’s a well-known fact that zoo animals have a hard time conceiving. Similarly, it happens in humans if we are constantly in flight or fight mode and feel “unsafe”. Our reproductive area shuts down, with our body telling us it’s not safe to get pregnant and it is preparing us for “danger”. That “danger” can be any stressful situation like financial issues, relationship problems, traffic jams… and we know that the last two years have been particularly stressful for many people. All of this will trigger your fight and flight response in the body.

All of this may also impact when to have fertility acupuncture – support could be useful during a particularly stressful period, for example, to help your regain balance.

Treatment during the egg stimulation phase

Regular treatment twice a week during the egg stimulation phase is usually needed to increase the response to stimulation medication.

Good blood flow is very important during this phase, particularly in older women. Research has shown that a lack of good blood flow will result in more damaged eggs and, conversely, that a good blood flow produces better quality eggs.

The Two-Week wait and pregnancy support

During the two-week wait, it may be a good idea to come for acupuncture between Day 6 to Day 10 after the egg collection.

The 2WW is normally a mental roller-coaster. It can be emotionally draining and this time could be perfect to have fertility acupuncture to minimise stress and alleviate anxiety.

Related article – Yoga and pilate during the two week wait – 11 expert tips

IVF transfer day and implantation

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment on the day of and after an IVF transfer can significantly increase IVF success rates, sometimes almost by twice as much.

Acupuncture sessions should be scheduled before and after the IVF transfer day, one session before and one after, to facilitate the body’s response to the treatment, to relax the uterus and to reduce uterine contractions that might be triggered by the transfer process.

IVF implantation will happen one to two days after the blastocyst transfer. Embryo implantation failures can happen because of compromised uterine receptivity, strong uterine contractions, genetically abnormal embryos, high stress levels and abnormalities in the immune response.

Acupuncture for fertility and Chinese medicine

Both acupuncture and Chinese medicine create a perfect blend for healthy egg development by gently balancing hormones and increasing blood flow. In addition to acupuncture treatments, Chinese medicine herbs can improve your fertility.

Most pregnancies are without complications; however, IVF pregnancies have a higher risk of failure and miscarriage. After conceiving, it is recommended to continue with treatments to help with the development of the foetus.

Continuing fertility acupuncture on a weekly basis until 12 weeks when the placenta takes over and chances of miscarriage greatly decrease will help by:

  • improving your health
  • decreasing pregnancy complaints
  • helping to prevent miscarriages
  • minimising morning sickness

Hopefully, Karla’s article has given you a better idea of when you may want to schedule your holistic fertility treatments and how they can fit around other treatments such as IVF and IUI. Holistic therapies for fertility don’t suit everyone and can be costly. Always speak to your fertility specialist to see whether these treatments may benefit you.

Karla Perentin BSc(Hons), is a highly experienced practitioner, specialising in using Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine and Arvigo Maya Abdominal therapy to treat gynaecological and fertility issues.

If you would like to see more about the services she can provide to improve your fertility, click here. 

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