January 23, 2016

In Vitro Fertilization and Acupuncture

The use of acupuncture, along with in vitro fertilization (IVF), has increased successful embryo transfer (ET) and pregnancy outcomes (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).  Acupuncture  has many benefits for women undergoing IVF.  Some of these are:

  • Regulation of fertility hormones–Acupuncture promotes the release of beta-endorphin in the brain. Beta-endorphin regulates:
    • the production of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) which helps maintain the pregnancy and the proper development of the baby, and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland which stimulates the release of an egg during ovulation (6, 7)
  • c69e4d5b2c0d5fbf6ecbcca21f3ea23f
    Acupuncture increases success of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

    Increased blood flow–Acupuncture increases blood flow to the reproductive system. (8, 9, 6) Increased blood flow can increase the thickness of the endometrial lining which increases rates of successful embryo implantation.

  • Enhanced luteal function –the luteal phase is the premenstrual phase of a woman’s cycle. It begins after ovulation. The uterine wall is ready for pregnancy during the luteal phase. Luteal-phase acupuncture has a positive effect on the outcome of IVF (10, 11).

  • Reduced stress (6, 12).
Pregnancy by Alex Grey at AlexGrey.com

Acupuncture has also has been proven to increase pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing IVF around the time of controlled ovarian hysterstimulation, or ovulation induced by fertility medications (14).

It was demonstrated that acupuncture before and after ET (embryo transfer) resulted in a higher pregnancy rate compared with a group without acupuncture…The results of this study support the significance of acupuncture for the outcome of IVF (15).

If you would like to discuss how acupuncture can help you, Jeffrey Russell practices acupuncture in Louisville at Abacus Chinese Medicine. You can review his site here and you can also contact him at 502. 299-8900.

For more on this topic.

1 Cheong YC, Hung Yu Ng E, Ledger WL. Acupuncture and assisted conception. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.2008;4:CD006920.
Manheimer E, Zhang G, Udoff L, Haramati A, Langenberg P, Berman BM, Bouter LM. Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008 Mar 8; 336(7643): 45-9.
3  Kong S, Hughes A. Acupuncture has several positive  effects that contribute to the success of IVF.Acupuncture as an Adjunct to In Vitro Fertilization: A Randomized Trial. Medical Acupuncture. August 2009, 21(3): 179-182. 
4 Chen J et al. Effects of electroacupuncture on in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer (IVF-ET) of patients with poor ovarian response.[Chinese] Zhongguo Zhenjiu 2009;29:775-9.
5 Westergaard,  Mao,  Krogslund,  Sandrini, Lenz, Grinsted. Fertility and Sterility Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial. Fertilility and Sterility. 2006 May;85(5):1341-6.
6 Anderson et al. In vitro fertilization and acupuncture: clinical efficacy and mechanistic basis. Altern. Ther. Health Med. 2007;13(3):38-48.
7 Anderson, Haimovici, Ginsburg, Schust, Wayne.  In vitro fertilization and acupuncture: clinical efficacy and mechanistic basis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2007 May-Jun;13(3):38-48.
8 Ho M et al. Electroacupuncture Reduces Uterine Artery Blood Flow Impedance in Infertile Women. Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2009;48:148-51.
9 Ming, Huang, Chang, Chen, Chang, Yang, Tsai. Electroacupuncture Reduces Uterine Artery Blood Flow Impedance in Infertile Women. Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Volume 48, Issue 2, June 2009, 148–151.
10 Huang HDJ, Zhang MM. Effects of acupuncture on the luteal function of rats with dysfunctional embryo implantation. Zhongguo zhen jiu 2009;29:910-3
11 Dieterle, Stefan et al. Effect of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study. Fertility and Sterility, Volume 85 , Issue 5 , 1347 – 1351.
12 Magarelli PC et al. Changes in serum cortisol and prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer treatment. Fertil Steril 2008; 92(6):1870-9.
13 Liu XY et al. Preliminary study on the mechanisms of acupuncture in promoting embryo implantation in rats [Article in Chinese] Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 2007;27:633-6.
14 Zheng, Zhang, Huang, Wang. The Role of Acupuncture in Assisted Reproductive Technology. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 84: 1-15. July 2012
15 Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertility and Sterility, 2002;77:721– 4.