Acupuncture for Infertility

Medical Reviewer:

Any couple struggling to conceive knows the heartache of infertility, and many people are open to trying anything that could increase their chances of having a baby. The good news is many different types of fertility treatments can help, including alternative methods such as acupuncture.

Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years, and it involves placing ultra-thin needles into specific points in the body. The theory of acupuncture is that these spots, or acupuncture points, reside on channels called meridians. When these pathways are needled during acupuncture, they help control the way the body works.

"Most experts think acupuncture improves fertility by helping blood flow to the uterus and ovaries," says John Norian, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at HRC Fertility in Southern California. And the better the blood flow to these areas, the more likely an embryo is to implant.

Fertility Conditions Acupuncture Can Help

Proponents of the technique use acupuncture to treat many different causes of infertility, including spasmed tubes and repeated pregnancy losses. Acupuncture also is believed by some experts to treat the thyroid problems that can cause infertility. (Both an overactive and underactive thyroid can make it difficult to conceive.) It can also treat some cases of infertility without a known cause. Some doctors use only acupuncture, and others use it along with mainstream fertility treatments.

In addition, acupuncture boosts feel-good hormones called beta endorphins, says Dr. Norian. This improves levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, which are both important to fertility. "It also helps decrease the stress response," he says.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/27/2013