How does Fertility Acupuncture work?

By Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac

min read

More women are using acupuncture as a supportive therapy to optimize fertility.  Whether planning for future pregnancy, in the midst of “trying” or are at any stage of working with a fertility clinic, including IUI or IVF.  Many fertility specialists are now including acupuncture as part of recommendations for women (and their partners) trying to conceive. 

Acupuncture is a gentle, effective natural therapy with almost no negative side effects.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it has been used for a wide range of Reproductive Health issues for thousands of years. So how does it work and how do you make the most of your Fertility Acupuncture treatments? Here are 3 ways acupuncture may benefit fertility.

Acupuncture helps reduce the effects of stress

Stress is now being linked as a contributing factor in many cases of subfertility.  In fact, for many women it is thought that the fertility journey is often one of the greatest life stresses. Studies have shown that Acupuncture can help increase the body’s release of endorphins – our “happy hormones”, while also helping reduce the overproduction of cortisol – one of our “stress hormones”.  Acupuncture treatments are relaxing, restful times for body and mind to regenerate.

For more on stress and health, read our article How Stress Affects Your Body.

Acupuncture helps improve circulation

Research shows that acupuncture can help improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels and increasing the blood and oxygen flow in our bodies.  Bringing nourishment to the organs, tissues and glands of the body, restores and allows them to function optimally.

In Fertility Acupuncture, the protocols focus on improving general health and circulation, but also specifically blood flow to the reproductive organs.

Acupuncture and hormonal balance

Treatments are thought to benefit hormonal health by improving the communication lines between your endocrine and reproductive systems.  This in turn can help improve sleep, mood, digestion, menstruation and the healthy function of the reproductive organs.

Fertility in Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the health and balance of the whole person.  So although the treatments focus primarily on optimizing fertility, the overall health of the individual is always taken into account as well. 

Fertility Acupuncture Research

A recent study from Tel Aviv University reports that acupuncture used in conjunction with conventional fertility treatment, resulted in conception rates that were 26% higher.  Both conception and “take home baby” rates were significantly higher for the test group of women who used acupuncture alongside conventional IUI treatment.

When should you begin Fertility Acupuncture treatments?

It will vary for each individual, but generally the sooner the better.  Ideally, plan to give yourself 2 or 3 months to prepare with a course acupuncture treatments, much the way you might start a regimen of vitamins and healthier eating habits.  During this time, acupuncture treatment plans are customized for each person’s needs and throughout the menstrual cycle.  Most clients will be coming in weekly, but at some points of the treatment plan it may be more often. 

If you do not have that much of a head start, acupuncture can still be very useful.  Even if you are about to start an IVF or IUI cycle, targeted treatments can help prepare the body and any discomfort that may come up during this time.

Where to find a Fertility Acupuncturist in Toronto

While acupuncture is a regulated act available from a variety of professionals in Ontario – not all acupuncture is the same. Apart from Registered Acupuncturists and Registered TCM Practitioners, other providers may include Naturopaths, Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, Medical Doctors and RMTs.  Some of these practitioners have specific  training, often not including fertility acupuncture.  

While each practitioner has their own strengths and scope of training, it is important to know that fertility focused acupuncture is a holistic approach based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. When choosing a provider, always ask about their scope of practice, level of training and how much of their practice includes fertility work.

R.Acs and R.TCMPs have in-depth training in all aspects of TCM Acupuncture, including Reproductive Health, and many will have completed specialized post-graduate trainings and extra certifications in this area.

Next Steps

Have questions about Acupuncture and what to expect?  Please contact me for a free consultation call to discuss your situation and get more specific details. 

Know someone else who may find this article useful? 


endometriosis, IUI, IVF, PCOS, trying to conceive, unexplained infertility

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