Acupuncture is one of the most popular alternative therapies to help boost fertility.
Here we explain how it works and what’s involved.
At a glance
- Expect to pay between £25 and £40 per hour
- Acupuncturists usually take a full medical history, including details of your menstrual cycle and the results of fertility tests you’ve had
- Acupuncturists aim to rebalance your energy flow and prime your body for fertility
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is based on a system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dating back 3,000 years. Fine needles are inserted at points around your body to correct imbalance in energy or ‘qi’, which is said to flow around your body in ‘channels’ or ‘meridians’.
Acupuncturists believe there are 500 different acupuncture points around the body and that stimulating these with tiny needles can get your energy flowing. Acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of conditions, from anxiety and acne, to back pain and nausea. And the needles are so fine, it really shouldn’t hurt!
How can acupuncture help with fertility?
Acupuncturists aim to rebalance your energy flow and prime your body for fertility. The British Acupuncture Council believes acupuncture may boost female fertility by doing three key things:
- Regulating hormone function
- Increasing blood flow to the ovaries and uterus and helping to relax your muscles which can improve the chance of an embryo implanting.
- Tackling the causes of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a common cause of infertility
- Generally helping to relieve stress and make you feel more relaxed
Is it recognised by the medical community?
The jury’s out. Many doctors are sceptical about acupuncture, saying there’s little scientific evidence it can help with infertility. But others believe it can help by stimulating nerve and muscle tissue, and by helping you relax and de-stress – which is key to boosting fertility.
There’s also evidence to suggest that conception rates improved during IVF when acupuncture was performed, but this was only true when the acupuncture was performed the same day the embryos were being implanted in the uterus.
Acupuncture during fertility treatment
Acupuncture is such a popular treatment for infertility, some IVF clinics have acupuncturists working in their clinics, or they’re keen to refer you to a local trusted practitioner. As the research swings both ways, and the treatment itself is harmless, it’s generally accepted that acupuncture for fertility could be worth trying if you’re looking to increase your chances of success.
How might acupuncture help my partner’s fertility?
The British Acupuncture Council claims there’s evidence to show acupuncture increases sperm motility (how fast the sperm swim), as well as increasing levels of the male sex hormone testosterone and lowering the temperature of the scrotum (where sperm are stored), creating a better environment for keeping them healthy.
What happens during a consultation?
Acupuncturists usually take a full medical history, including details of your menstrual cycle and the results of fertility tests you’ve had. As well as the needle treatment, appointments usually include advice on diet and lifestyle changes that can boost fertility.
How much does it cost?
Acupuncture for fertility problems isn’t available on the NHS, but it’s not too pricey. Privately you can expect to pay between £25 and £40 per hour.
Where can I find an acupuncturist?
You can ask at your fertility clinic, or contact the British Acupuncture Council by ringing 020 8735 0400 or visiting www.acupuncture.org.uk