Research has linked acupuncture and fertility, claiming it can be very beneficial for couples who are undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment. However, it’s unclear if acupuncture alone can increase chances of conception.
Acupuncture and Fertility: How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture is a practice that’s based on the theory that vital energy can flow through the body, following certain pathways. An acupuncturist will attempt to balance energy, restoring health by stimulating certain points along the body’s pathways, utilizing needles. Acupuncture has been part of Chinese medicine for thousands of years and has recently gained a reputation for success in the American medical community.
Researchers have discovered that acupuncture can significantly increase a woman’s odds of pregnancy, when undergoing IVF treatment. 42% of women who received acupuncture conceived, compared to 26% of women who do not use acupuncture. It’s believed that acupuncture can help to increase circulation to the uterus while also working to relax muscle tissue and provide a better chance for an embryo to implant along the uterine walls.
Other research has shown that acupuncture can be very effective in reducing stress. Stress has been known to interfere with conception, so it makes sense that reducing stress can improve the odds of getting pregnant.
Acupuncture and fertility treatment in men is believed to also be successful. Studies have shown that regular acupuncture sessions can work to improve sperm motility and increase the sperm count. Research has also shown that acupuncture can improve the health and quality of sperm.
Most fertility experts believe that larger studies are needed, ideally, a random blind study. A random blind study will involve using fake needles for some of the participants, in order to determine whether or not acupuncture has a physical effect in addition to its mental affects. Because in other studies the participants were aware that acupuncture was being preformed they were not considered blind studies. Because of this, it’s possible that the success of the treatment could be due to what is referred to as the placebo effect.