Does Acupuncture for Fertility help you get pregnant? EXPERT opinion

When Nathan and I went through our successful round of IVF one of the changes that I did make was that I had acupuncture to see if it would help me get pregnant. I was successful on that round, which made me wonder what evidence there was about acupuncture helping with infertility, pregnancy and IVF.

I’m no expert on acupuncture so I didn’t feel able to discuss this in detail, so in this first of an acupuncture series we spoke to 2 acupuncture experts about acupuncture for fertility to get their opinion and knowledge of the subject, so without further ado let’s meet our acupuncturists.

Meet the acupuncture for fertility experts

We asked each of them to tell us a little bit about themselves:

My name is Caroline Haigh. I qualified as an acupuncturist in 1997 and run Calverley and Rawdon Acupuncture Clinic in Leeds. Our clinic specialises in male and female fertility alongside pregnancy and women’s health issues. We see in excess of 60 people per week at our clinic which gives a huge depth of experience and knowledge.

I have undergone extensive postgraduate fertility training and am one of a few people in the country to hold an Advanced Level Diploma in Fertility Acupuncture.

I am a founding member of the Zita West Acupuncture Network and have lectured this nationwide group of fertility acupuncturists on many occasions including using acupuncture to support IVF, male and female fertility issues.

My name is Michael Gorman. I have practiced acupuncture for many years, over the past 17 years I have earned a reputation as a fertility practitioner. During that time, I have trained several acupuncturists in my unique style of treatment which is very different to the mainstream practitioners. 

Myself and my 2 associates now practice from our clinic just outside of Solihull, West Midlands. Between us we treat around 70 patients a week predominately for fertility issues but also for painful and emotional conditions.

If you’re interested in finding a little more out about either of these superb acupuncturists and their acupuncture for fertility practices check them out through the links below

Caroline Haigh – Caverley and Rowden Acupuncture clinic –  Leeds

http://www.leedsacupuncture.co.uk/

Michael Gorman – Michael Gormon Acupuncture – Solihull (Birmingham)

https://www.michaelgormanacupuncture.com/

What can Acupuncture for fertility help with?

When I had my acupuncture the biggest positive for me was how relaxed it made me feel. I still to this day don’t know if it helped me have a successful IVF cycle, but it certainly helped with the stress and anxiety side, my practitioner would often give me a short hot stone massage to go along with it, which was lovely.

We asked Caroline and Michael what elements of fertility and IVF does acupuncture help with?

Acupuncture is able to help with a wide variety of issues from people who are just starting out on their fertility journey to those who have multiple failed IVF cycles.

Acupuncture is an effective option alongside IVF. It supports women with low ovarian reserve, PCOS or endometriosis. Acupuncture also offers relaxation and a sense of well-being which is of great benefit along the fertility journey.

Acupuncture is a great option to support male fertility. We see many men at our clinic who we support through acupuncture sessions, dietary and lifestyle advice. All of this can make a huge difference to male fertility.

Caroline Haigh

My style of acupuncture helps couples going through IVF by initially resolving any hormonal imbalances the couple may have that would interfere with Oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels. Once hormonal levels are correct, we use special acupuncture techniques to ensure energy levels in the meridian system are optimized. 

Through my experience we do not recommend treatment while on the initial drugs (downreg) but use stimulating treatments to improve follicle growth and the endometrial lining during the stimulating process. If sperm levels are low, we would also use our special techniques to improve things prior to the patient supplying his sample during the IVF process. This would be followed by an implantation treatment within 3 days of embryo transfer.

Acupuncture helps with IVF as it creates a balance of vital energy and increased blood supply to the organs and glands involved in optimizing fertility.

In our clinic the most significant issues that we find causing problems with fertility and IVF are viral infections (herpes) and Candida overgrowth. These tend to effect oestrogen levels which then cause issues with progesterone and testosterone.

Michael Gorman

It’s interesting to understand a little bit more about what acupuncture can help with in terms of fertility and IVF and how it can benefit people.

What does the acupuncture process involve?

We asked each of them to tell us a little bit about the acupuncture treatment this is what they had to say

The first appointment at my clinic consists of a Fertility Consultation. In this appointment we look in depth at medical and fertility history. We look at all the things that people can do to support fertility through dietary and lifestyle changes. People go away with lots of handouts and supporting information to help implement these changes. The recommendations are different for each person depending upon their personal circumstances. In this appointment we make a plan for how acupuncture can help support fertility.

Acupuncture sessions start following the Fertility Consultation. If we are looking to support natural fertility, we see women at certain times throughout the menstrual cycle and support what the body is doing at that time in the cycle through different acupuncture sessions.

We follow certain acupuncture protocols for IVF which are supported by research and start 4 weeks prior to embryo transfer.

Caroline Haigh

Acupuncture helps with IVF as it creates a balance of vital energy and increased blood supply to the organs and glands involved in optimizing fertility.

Our style of acupuncture for IVF involves using fine sterile needles and magnets to stimulate specific acupuncture points in the ear and on the body to created energy balance.

Michael Gorman

I know people often worry that acupuncture might hurt, I think it’s just the thought of the needles. I obviously had acupuncture as mentioned for my IVF cycle and Nathan has used it for migraines in the past and neither of us found the treatment painful, what do you think about that?

All acupuncture needles are sterile, single use and disposable. They are hair fine. Upon insertion often people feel no sensation at all or a tiny pin-prick type feeling which fades after a few seconds. People are usually surprised about how little they feel.

What are the benefits of acupuncture for fertility?

A lot of our readers asked about the benefits of acupuncture can you tell us more and any evidence you have of its effectiveness.

I have experienced improvement with sperm morphology, volume and motility with our treatments.

I do consider that acupuncture treatment will help improve a successful IVF cycle.

There are many clinical reports that show acupuncture does have a significant effect on improving IVF outcomes. I have attached a report from the British Acupuncture Council that lists some of the findings.

Click to download a pdf of the findings

Michael Gorman

Most people comment that they feel a general sense of well-being for having acupuncture. This can include reduced stress levels and a better sleep pattern.

Acupuncture does have an effect on the menstrual cycle. It is not uncommon for cycles to be regulated, less pain experienced around menstruation and less PMT symptoms amongst other things.

Research supports the fact that acupuncture increases blood flow to the ovaries thereby enhancing the environment in which ovarian follicles develop. Acupuncture also increases blood flow to the uterus which improves thickness of the endometrial lining and increases chances of implantation.

Research also supports acupuncture having a positive effect on PCOS by reducing sympathetic nerve activity and balancing hormones, leading to a reduction in the number of cysts, stimulating ovulation, regulating cycles and enhancing blastocyst implantation.

The British Acupuncture Council has useful fact sheets for female fertility and ART (Assisted reproduction techniques).

Caroline Haigh

Having looked at the research myself, whilst more does appear to be done on the subject there does certainly appear to be a positive impact between acupuncture and fertility. One specific small study in china was of particular interest it showed the following clinical pregnancy rates 52.6% (acupuncture group) v 33.3% (sham acupuncture group) v 32.8% (observational group). While the study was small it does demonstrate potential.

I also asked Michael if there were any other specific treatments that he would recommend for those going through IVF and he suggested looking into getting a N.A.E.T. kinesiology practitioner.

How much does Acupuncture cost?

It’s important to note that acupuncture is different prices all over the UK. Rachel and I paid £45 for the initial consultation then £40 per session thereafter. For our two experts their clinics charge the following.

The cost of each treatment at our clinic is £50.00 – Michael Gorman

At my clinic in Leeds the initial consultation is £55 and acupuncture sessions are £45 – Caroline Haigh

Personally, I think it’s pretty good value for money, it’s similar if not slightly cheaper than an hours massage and the potential benefits make it good value for money.

Conclusions about acupuncture for fertility.

I asked them Caroline there was anything else she would like to share with our readers

Acupuncture offers lots of fertility support to a wide range of women and men. To get the most from your sessions look for someone who is experienced in fertility acupuncture and has a high level of fertility acupuncture training.

I’d like to offer a huge thank you to our two acupuncture for fertility experts Caroline and Michael for taking time out of their busy schedule to offer information, guidance and support regarding acupuncture.

Both their qualifications and years of helping couples through their infertility and IVF journeys makes them superbly placed to give guidance. I was really impressed with their depth of knowledge and passion for treatment that not only do they clearly believe in but has a growing evidence base behind it.

When Nathan and I go through our next IVF round acupuncture is certainly something that will form part of our plan.

If you have any questions or if you want to share your experiences of acupuncture and infertility then please don’t hesitate to put them in the comments.

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