Fertility Enhancement Acupuncture Herbal Medicine

No matter if you are taking a modern approach to fertility treatment (through IVF, IUI, etc.), or want to take a natural approach, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can increase the chances of becoming pregnant and having a child.  Research suggests that acupuncture & Chinese herbal medicine helps to:
  • Regulate the menstrual cycle
  • Regulate hormones by reducing stress 
  • Improve blood flow to the ovaries & uterus 
  • Improve ovarian function: encourages production of follicles & enhances their quality
  • Improve the thickness of the uterine wall lining
  • Reduce uterine contractions after embryo transfer 
  • Reduce the chance of miscarriage 
  • Lessen the side effects of pharmaceuticals
  • Enhance the immune system 
  • Improve sperm parameters (at least 3 months of treatment) 
  • Improve quality of oocytes (at least 3 months of treatment)

Treatment Programs

All acupuncture treatment plans are tailored to the specific needs of each patient.  However, gathering what we know from research and past experience, there are some general guidelines to be aware of and follow.  Ideally, it is best to consult with an acupuncturist at least 3-4 months before beginning any fertility treatment.  This allows the time to make the necessary diet, lifestyle, and exercise changes necessary to get the body into a more balanced, supportive state for increased fertility.  It also allows the time for the optimal number of acupuncture & herbal medical treatments.

Acupuncture & ART

It is ideal  to consult with your acupuncturist 3-4 months before beginning a fertility treatment involving Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to develop a treatment plan.  Generally, when combining acupuncture with ART (such as IVF, IUI, etc.), it is optimal to begin at least 1 acupuncture treatment per week for at least 3 months prior to the ART procedure.  During the follicular stimulation phase (by pharmaceuticals), the acupuncture treatment frequency is commonly increased to twice per week.  Also, it is optimal to receive an acupuncture treatment 12-48 hours both before and after the ART procedure.

Natural Fertility Treatment Only

If you are attempting to achieve a pregnancy through natural means only, the average treatment course is between 3-6 months.  Treatment frequency will depend on many factors, including: age, previous pregnancy history, general health, menstrual irregularities, and the etiology of infertility (both Western & Eastern diagnoses).  In addition to acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine plays a large role in the natural infertility treatment plan.  Lifestyle, dietary, and exercise changes will also be a very important part of the treatment plan.

Complicating Factors:

These following factors may warrant a longer acupuncture treatment plan and/or more frequent acupuncture treatments:   

      Female:
  • near the age of 40
  • previously taken fertility drugs
  • undergone previous ART procedures
  • polycystic ovaries
  • experiences PMS
  • elevated FSH level
  • history of endometriosis
  • produces antibodies to sperm

      Male:
  • history of sexually transmitted disease
  • history of urinary tract infections
  • history of prostatitis or other urological issues
  • chronic low back pain

Acupuncture & ART - Clinically Researched Protocols

There are currently two prominent protocols that have been researched.  They are as follows:

Sterner-Victorin et al Protocol: focused on acupuncture treatments leading up to IVF procedure
  • Eight treatments before retrieval
    • Treat the patient twice a week for four weeks up to retrieval
  • Point Locations (all points are needled bilaterally)
    • UB 23 (black clip) to UB 28 (red clip) (one lead)
    • SP 6 (red clip) to UB 57(black clip) (one lead) 
    • Electro-stimulation set from 0 – 100 Hz for 30 minutes
  • TDP lamp on the low back is optional for the patient

Paulus et al. Protocol: focused on acupuncture treatments right before & after embryo transfer
  • Treat 12-24 hours before embryo transfer
  • Treat within 1 hour after embryo transfer
  • Pre transfer points
    • Du 20, PC 6, ST 29, SP 8, LIV 3
    • Ear points: Rt. Shen Men, Brain; Lt. Uterus & Endocrine
  • Place ear BB's in each ear using the same points & ask patient to stimulate them during transfer
Post transfer points
  • LI 4, SP 10, ST 36, SP 6
  • Ear Points: Rt. uterus & endocrine, Lt. Shen Men, brain