Several fertility clinics, doctors' offices, and private providers of treatment for women, men, and couples seeking pregnancy offer acupuncture to increase fertility. But there are no large scientific trials that conclude with certainty that acupuncture works.
What does the research show: Does acupuncture increase the chance of pregnancy?
Several trials have been made with the use of acupuncture treatment. Most have been relatively small, and the placebo effect may therefore also have had a large impact. So just the idea that you are doing something that might increase fertility can have a positive effect. However, in 2002 a German study published in Fertility and Sterility showed that the number of registered pregnancies increased from 26.3% to 42.5% if IVF treatment (in vitro fertilization) was supplemented with acupuncture.
Two years later, in 2004, a similar experiment was carried out at the Trianglen fertility clinic in Denmark with 300 women who were undergoing IVF treatment at the clinic. Using a lottery, 2/3 were selected who received acupuncture on the day of the IVF treatment just before and just after treatment. Here their experiment, which is also published in Fertility and Sterility, showed the following:
Pregnancyrate (Positive pregnancytest)
Clinical pregnancyrate (Detection of heartbeat)
Control group, without acupuncture
Controlgroup, having acupuncture in connection with IVF traeatment
n connection with fertility treatment, you will typically receive acupuncture during egg retrieval and again when the egg is to be laid.
The following is not necessarily backed by research, but several fertility clinics and acupuncturists use acupuncture in connection with fertility treatment, and here it is pointed out that acupuncture helps to:
- boost the mucous membrane and thereby increase the egg's ability to attach
- improve sperm quality and increase sperm count
- reduce cysts and discomfort in PCO/PCOS
- reduce pain in endometriosis
- stimulate ovulation
- regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce pain
- Reduce stress
- reduce side effects from the hormone treatment
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is treatment with needles that will be gently inserted a few millimeters into various points on the body. When the needles are inserted, it will most often feel like slight tenderness or give a pressing and sleeping sensation. Normally 5-15 needles are used. The treatment lasts approximately 10-30 minutes, and you will typically lie on a table and relax while the needles work. After the treatment the patient is often tired and thirsty.
The most known side effects of acupuncture are:
Small bleeding at the injection site
Increased secretion such as sweat, urine and faeces
Running nose and eyes
Mild headache, nausea and dizziness
Supplements and the right treatment
Several acupuncturists offer specific fertility-promoting treatment. If you want to make sure that your acupuncturist has relevant training, you should look for a RAB-approved practitioner. See the list here: Patient safety and acupuncture (aku-net.dk)
If you find a therapist who has passed the exam as an acupuncturist and is a Registered Alternative Therapist, you can get a subsidy from the Danish Health Insurance if you are a member. You can read more here: Acupuncture | Health Insurance Denmark"
Several private health insurances also provide subsidies for acupuncture treatment, so check your policy if you have private health insurance.
Sources: Sundhed.dk, Fertilitetsklinikken Trianglen, Copenhagen Fertility Center, Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial - PubMed (nih.gov) Sygesikringen Denmark, Practicing Acupuncturists