Acupuncture & Fertility – 5 Things You Should Know

As Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialists, we often see patients who are looking for alternative ways to increase their chance of pregnancy. Acupuncture has been shown in some studies to increase chance of pregnancy during fertility treatment. Struggling to conceive and going through fertility treatments can be stressful, and acupuncture can help to reduce some of that stress. Here are 5 things you should know about acupuncture.

Courtesy of Lisa Mussak at Orchid Chinese Medicine in Milwaukee…

    1. Who acupuncturists work with – Acupuncture can be helpful to support both female and male fertility by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, balancing hormones, reducing inflammation, and improving sleep and stress. Patients with unexplained infertility, high stress, or those seeking to improve their outcomes with ART (such as IVF) can also benefit from adding acupuncture to their care plan.

    1. Acupuncture

      Orchid Chinese Medicine, Milwaukee, WI. (L) Lisa Mussak, L.Ac., MSOM, FABORM & (R) Rebecca Staska Jankowski, L.Ac., MSOM, FABORM

      Outcomes and success rates – As our goal is to help you to achieve the best state of health prior to a pregnancy, we recommend a minimum of 9 treatments prior to an IUI or egg retrieval. While research has shown that this threshold of 9-12 treatments offers the greatest benefit in pregnancy outcomes, we are always happy to begin partnering with you at any stage of treatment.

    1. What to expect from your first appointment – During your initial session, we’ll complete a thorough review of each partner’s health history. An acupuncture session will follow after discussing your treatment plan and answering any questions you may have. Your care will be coordinated to complement the treatment you are receiving from your REI. (Tip: Selecting an acupuncturist specializing in fertility care will also ensure their familiarity with ART and a desire to work collaboratively and stay informed of new developments over time.)
    1. Developing your treatment plan – Treatment plans vary on an individual basis, taking into account your health history, and any additional treatment you are receiving. Daily practices such as diet and lifestyle recommendations can provide additional support beyond acupuncture alone. So that you receive the highest quality care, we ask that you inform each provider of the medications and supplements you are taking. We always discontinue use of herbs while you are taking ART-related medication.
  1. How treatments may feel – The link between stress and problems conceiving is well-documented. With this in mind, we strive for each session to serve as a dedicated hour of rejuvenation. Comfort measures such as warmed treatment tables, fresh linens, and soothing music serve to enhance this relaxation, and allow you a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of the rest of your week. Many patients reach such a deep state of calm that they even nap during sessions!

If you are looking to try acupuncture, our advice to you would be to find a provider you feel comfortable with, and know that while taking the first step may feel intimidating, the majority of patients view their experiences favorably. Beyond a benefit to pregnancy outcomes, they also report a boost in well-being, reduced anxiety and a greater resilience in cope with the stresses of infertility.