On its own, acupuncture can be seen as an alternative way of treating fertility problems. It is also often seen as a complementary therapy to modern fertility treatments.
When used alone, though, acupuncture is probably most effective for those couples who are experiencing a functional problem, like irregular ovulation, rather than a structural problem, like a blockage in the sperm ducts. Some practitioners will also recommend Chinese herbs for infertility that will supplement the acupuncture and any other treatment you may be receiving. If you take herbs while receiving other medical treatments, be sure to tell your doctor. Some herbs can interfere with the function of fertility drugs and procedures.
Why acupuncture works for infertility problems is still debatable. However, most practicing acupuncturists say that acupuncture helps by regulating your body’s system. This aids in blood flow to the reproductive organs and stabilizes hormone levels. This in turn will increase ovarian function in women as well as sperm production in men.
Used as a complementary form of therapy for women undergoing other fertility treatments, acupuncture has been proven to be especially beneficial. Some believe that acupuncture works by helping women stay more relaxed through stressful fertility treatments. In particular, studies have shown that acupuncture definitely increases the rate of pregnancy in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF).
A German study done in 2002 showed that of the 80 women who underwent IVF and received acupuncture, 34 women got pregnant, a success rate of 42.5%. Of the 80 women involved in the study who received IVF without any acupuncture treatments, only 21 women (26.3%) became pregnant. More recently, an American study involving 114 women showed that 51% of the women who had acupuncture and IVF treatments became pregnant versus only 36% of the women who had IVF alone. Deeper analysis of this study revealed that, while 8% of the women in the acupuncture group miscarried, the rate of miscarriage in the IVF-only group was 20%. Furthermore, women who received acupuncture also had lower rates of ectopic pregnancies.