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How can acupuncture increase my chances of getting pregnant?

Article " Will acupuncture increase my chances of getting pregnant" Published September 20, 2017 by Fox news

The use of acupuncture has significantly increased over the past decade in women and couples with infertility who are trying to improve their chances for pregnancy. Some pursue acupuncture to relieve the anxiety, frustration, and stress related to infertility, yet many questions remain about whether and how acupuncture may improve fertility.

Below are answers to commonly raised questions that can help patients who are contemplating acupuncture to increase their chances of conceiving.

Can acupuncture help to increase fertility?

There have been conflicting results with studies that have shown increased pregnancy rates, while others have not. Despite a lack of consensus, many women have conceived on their own or during fertility treatments while undergoing acupuncture.

When is acupuncture usually started for fertility concerns?

This varies. Acupuncture may be started when a woman begins trying to conceive, immediately before beginning fertility treatments or after several unsuccessful months/years of trying on their own or with fertility treatments, or during the first several weeks of pregnancy.

If pregnancy does happen after acupuncture is started, is this treatment continued?

Many will continue acupuncture treatments to support their pregnancy and the overall well-being of the mother. After pregnancy occurs, a combination of acupuncture, nutrition, and lifestyle recommendations can be used for stress reduction, to minimize nausea, and to alleviate low back pain or pressure that is common in the later stages of pregnancy.

Does acupuncture work for every patient?

In a similar fashion to any treatment, the effects of acupuncture vary and may provide improvement for some patients. However, some patients may not perceive a benefit.

What are the possible theories of how acupuncture may improve fertility?

From historical and modern Eastern and Western acupuncture medicine authorities, it is thought that acupuncture may improve fertility rates by helping to regulate menstrual cycles and ovulation, regulating hormone levels, increasing blood flow to the uterus, and by improving the quality of eggs and sperm.

What does a typical acupuncture session look like?

The initial visit is usually 75-90 minutes. This visit usually begins in a private treatment room where patients will rest with the tiny needles comfortably inserted for 25-30 minutes.

Is acupuncture painful?

Some patients are anxious about the needles. However, the needles used for acupuncture are different than those used for injections or blood draws. They are very small disposable stainless steel needles that are gently and painlessly inserted into specific acupuncture points.

Is acupuncture covered by insurance? If not, what is the general cost?

Insurance plans vary in their coverage. Some patients can submit the invoiced charge of treatment to their insurance company and they may be reimbursed for a portion of the cost. The cost of an initial appointment can be $100-150 (75-90 min) and follow up appointments may range from $80-95 (50-60 min).

How many sessions are usually recommended for a patient with fertility concerns?

There is no set number of sessions, though many acupuncturists recommend beginning 2-3 months prior to trying to get pregnant or to starting fertility treatments.

Aaron K. Styer MD is a board certified reproductive endocrinologist, founding physician partner, and co-medical director of CCRM Boston in Chestnut Hill, MA.

Sharón Bacigalupi, MPH, MAOM, Dipl.OM, L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is the founder of Turning Leaf Acupuncture in Brookline, MA.

What Does the Medical Research Say About Acupuncture for Infertility?

By Rachel Gurevich | Updated October 27, 2016

Researchers at the Center for Integrative Medicine, at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine, conducted a meta-analysis of several research studies on the effects of acupuncture on IVF outcomes. (A meta-analysis is a research study that gathers information from several studies and evaluates them together.) The meta-analysis considered seven trials, which all together included 1,366 women.

The researchers found that when acupuncture took place on the day of embryo transfer, statistically significant improvements were found in the rates of clinical pregnancies, ongoing pregnancy, and live births. They also found that 10 woman would need to be treated with IVF and acupuncture to see one additional pregnancy.

In another study, often referred to as the "German study," a German fertility clinic offered 160 IVF patients who had good-quality embryos an opportunity to participate in a study on acupuncture and IVF outcomes. Half of the patients received acupuncture treatment, 25 minutes before and after embryo transfer. The control group did not receive any supportive therapy.

In the acupuncture group, 34 of the 80 patients got pregnant. In the control group, 21 out of 80 got pregnant.

There have been a number of other, smaller sized research studies on acupuncture and fertility. Because of their small size, the results of these studies are controversial. Just a few of the possible connections between acupuncture and fertility found in the smaller studies:

  • Acupuncture may improve sperm quality and counts in infertile men.

  • Acupuncture may improve the lining of the endometrium, including increased the blood flow to the uterus.

  • Acupuncture may help regulate hormone levels, specifically gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which in turn may improve ovulation rates.

  • Acupuncture may help women with PCOS and anovulatory cycles.

  • Acupuncture may help those with thyroid problems. (And problems with the thyroid can lead to problems with fertility.)

  • Acupuncture may increase the number of follicles produced during an IVF treatment

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