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All About Acupuncture and Infertility

Frequently Asked Questions on Acupuncture and Infertility

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Updated June 06, 2010

Picture of a woman receiving acupuncture treatment.

Woman receiving acupuncture treatment.

Photo (c) Anthony Saint James / Getty
Acupuncture is one of the most popular forms of alternative medicine used in the treatment of infertility. But what is acupuncture? Can it really help you get pregnant?

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves placing hair-thin needles into particular points in the body. According to traditional Chinese medicine, these points run along "energy lines" called meridians. By needling specific points, acupuncture is said to regulate the body's hormones and organs.

Will Acupuncture Help Me Get Pregnant?

Maybe. Whether or not acupuncture can improve pregnancy rates is controversial. Some research studies have shown promise, while others have found no link between acupuncture treatment and improved pregnancy rates.

The only thing just about everyone agrees on is that acupuncture can increase relaxation, help with pain, and lower stress levels. Given the stress of infertility, acupuncture may be worth a shot.

No one is certain how acupuncture works, but there are theories. To learn more about how acupuncture may work, read these articles:

Is Acupuncture Safe?

Acupuncture is considered to be safe when performed by a trained acupuncturist. There may be a risk of miscarriage if certain acupuncture points are stimulated after embryo transfer or during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, acupuncture performed on points Gallbladder 21, Stomach 12, Large Intestine 4, Spleen 6, Bladder 60, Bladder 67, and any points on the lower abdomen is not recommended during pregnancy or suspected pregnancy.

For this reason, it's important that you use an acupuncturist who is experienced in working with fertility patients.

Are The Herbs Prescribed By Some Acupuncturist Safe?

Use of Chinese herbs during fertility treatment is controversial. Some claim that the best results are achieved when acupuncture, herbal treatments, and conventional fertility treatments are used together.

However, some doctors are concerned that herbs may interact with fertility drugs. If you're going to use herbs, it's important that you let your doctor know. If your doctor does not want you to use herbs during fertility treatments, you may still benefit from the acupuncture.

If you really want to use herbs, and your fertility clinic is against the idea, you might want to consider finding a fertility doctor who has experience working with Chinese herbal remedies. Whatever you do, don't take the herbs and keep it secret from your doctor (a tempting, but potentially dangerous option.)

Sources:

Treating Infertility Using Acupuncture. American Pregnancy Association. Accessed on October 19, 2008. http://www.americanpregnancy.org/infertility/acupuncture.htm

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