The evidence indicates that if you are going to use acupuncture it may be advisable to have it before and during the stimulation phase of the IVF cycle. It is useful for women to consider acupuncture treatment in the menstrual cycles before their IVF cycle, or before a frozen embryo cycle to improve the uterine lining. Also…according to the research dose matters.
Improving Patient Well-being and Stress Reduction: Cochrane and Grant observed that individuals frequently emerge from acupuncture sessions with an enhanced sense of relaxation and emotional equilibrium. This reduction in stress is a can be a critical factor in ensuring patients maintain continue the IVF process. DOI: 10.1111/aogs.13528
Significant Improvement in Pregnancy Rates: In 2023 Meta-analysis solidifies the pivotal role of acupuncture in enhancing IVF outcomes. In trials with at least 4 acupuncture sessions, Implantation Rates, Clinical Pregnancy Rates, and Live Birth Rates all exhibited significant improvements (CPR: 57% vs. 35%) and amalgamated findings reveal that the acupuncture group consistently demonstrated showing an approximate increase of about 10% compared to controls. Notably, miscarriage rates did not exhibit significant differences between the acupuncture and control groups. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-023-07142-1)
This supports previous meta-analyses, such as the study by Smith in 2019, which have established a direct correlation between the frequency and timing of acupuncture treatments and pregnancy rates. Higher-dose acupuncture administered before embryo transfer has been associated with a significant increase in clinical pregnancy rates. When more than three acupuncture sessions are performed, clinical pregnancy rates notably improve. (N = 8 / n = 1595, RR 1.50, 95% CI 1.18–1.90, P=0.001). DOI: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2018.12.038
Higher Live Birth Rates: Hullender’s study in 2015 underscored the significance of Whole System Traditional Chinese Medicine (WS-TCM) which included TCM diet advice, herbal medicine and acupuncture administered at a dose of 9-12 treatments before and around embryo transfer. Hullender 2015 analysed the outcomes of more than a thousand IVF cycles and found that women who used WS-TCM had a higher live birth rate than those doing IVF alone. The proportion of live births was 61.3% in the Chinese Medicine group and 48.2% in the usual IVF care group and 50.8% in the group having acupuncture only on the day of embryo transfer. DOI: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2015.02.005
Embryo transfer acupuncture considerations
Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer has significant benefits for women who have increased stress levels or who have had multiple previous IVF cycles, or where there was a low baseline pregnancy rate (Smith 2018). Continuing this approach in the two-week wait is also helpful for these women to manage IVF-related stress and anxiety.
- Embryo Transfer acupuncture best be done on the same day (or within 24 hours if on the same day is not possible) and on-site or with minimum travel. Acupuncture over the two-week wait can be useful in reducing stress and anxiety.
Electro Acupuncture Research
One study with a cohort of 24 women undergoing IVF revealed that electroacupuncture sessions significantly increased oocyte maturation and improved fertilisation rates. This research also showed a reduction in apoptosis markers in granulosa cells, which play a crucial role in supporting oocyte development. This study is limited to small cohort, so while results are encouraging, and so further investigation is needed. DOI:10.1089/acu.2019.1368
Another study showed Mild electrical stimulation of acupuncture points on the abdomen and legs, in the three cycles leading up to a frozen embryo transfer, significantly improved rates of implantation, clinical pregnancy and live births compared to control groups. Ultrasound showed that the treatment improved the structure and quality of the uterine lining. DOI: 10.1136/acupmed-2014-010572
Low-level laser therapy
Low-level laser therapy in some limited research has been shown to increase the flow of electrons through the respiratory chain to increase the mitochondria’s production of ATP without increasing the production of free radicals.
At the Acupuncture pregnancy clinic, we use acupuncture research to guide our clinical recommendation so you can get the best outcome possible. While we like to take the Whole System of Traditional Chinese Medicine to try to achieve the best outcomes, however, we meet you where you are at and what is manageable for you! While we recommend this large dose of acupuncture (9-12 treatments) before/ during IVF and around embryo transfer, when possible, to optimise results, research suggests that even 4 or more treatments significantly improve the likelihood of clinical pregnancy.
We are happy to work with you where you are, and with whatever is possible and/or manageable for you.
What else can you do?
It is important to note that research suggests that Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture have a significant effect on fertility outcomes when used separately, but an even more significant effect when used in conjunction. Read more on Research on herbal medicine research on fertility outcomes here.
We advise on diet and lifestyle, as well as supplements and herbs where appropriate that can help support your health, fertility, and pregnancy, and also run weekly information sessions for those trying to conceive IVF or otherwise.
Making it on Monday: A Weekly Workshop for Moms and Dads Making Is all about empowering women and men who are trying to conceive through providing weekly workshops on topics such as TCM fertility tips, nutrition, and mindset as well as tips from the experts inside and outside of our clinic.
How to access our Weekly Fertility Education session?
We would like to invite you to join our private online community The IVF and fertility support private Facebook group. This group was set up to support you on your fertility journey and we hope it will become your go to place for all things fertility. The group is 100% private and confidential.
Why work with us?
At Acupuncture Pregnancy Clinic, we understand what you’re going through, and we’re here to help you confidently navigate your fertility journey and discover your potential. Our highly trained team of Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners has been providing compassionate TCM support to people just like you since 2008.
We use the latest research to inform our practice, so you can be sure that you’re getting the best possible evidence-based Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture care and the best possible outcomes.
We believe that you’re the master of your own body and fertility, and we’re here to guide you through this journey every step of the way to help you to take control of your fertility and grow your family.
The Acupuncture Pregnancy Clinic is an Industry leader in evidence-based Integrative Traditional Chinese Medicine for reproductive health, including natural conception, IVF, women’s health conditions (such as irregular cycles, PCOS, and Endometriosis), and pregnancy support from conception to birth and postnatal care.
All our practitioners are degree qualified and AHPRA registered with extensive training experience in the areas of IVF, fertility, women’s health, and pregnancy. So, you can be assured you are getting the highest quality of care. We are an Integrative Chinese Medicine Clinic, which means we work alongside and in collaboration with mainstream healthcare providers, and with other allied health providers.
We have 6 locations in Australia including Sydney East, West, CBD, Central Coast, East Melbourne, and Mornington.
How to Book?
Recap- When should I book in?
- Ideally, come in 1-3 months before you start your IVF cycle. If you start less than 3 months prior, we recommend you come in more often.
- We recommend bi-weekly treatment for 4 weeks prior to IVF cycle and 2 weeks during the stimulation cycle.
- Electro Acupuncture and Low-level laser Therapy (LLL) may be used during IVF stimulation and/or prior to Frozen embryo transfer.
Our Clinics are located Sydney: CBD, Westmead and Alexandria, Central Coast NSW in Holgate & Gosford, as well as East Melbourne and Mornington in Victoria.
You deserve to feel relaxed, in control, and excited about your fertility and pregnancy journey. At Acupuncture Pregnancy Clinic, we understand what you’re going through, and we’re here to help you confidently navigate your fertility journey and discover your potential. Our highly trained team of Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners has been providing compassionate TCM support to people trying to have a family just like you since 2008.
Cochrane S, Smith CA, Possamai-Inesedy A, Bensoussan A. Acupuncture and women’s health: an overview of the role of acupuncture and its clinical management in women’s reproductive health. Int J Womens Health. 2014 Mar 17; 6:313-25. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S38969. PMID: 24669195; PMCID: PMC3962314.
Evans, H. D and Abrahamse, H, Effect of Laser Irradiation on Mitochondrial Responses of Stressed Keratinocytes, WALT 2008 (conference paper)
Hullender Rubin, L., Opsahl, M. S., Wiemer, K. E., Mist, S. D., & Caughey, A. B. (2015). Impact of whole systems traditional Chinese medicine on in-vitro fertilisation outcomes. Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 30 (6), 602–612
Kusuma AC, Oktari N, Mihardja H, Srilestari A, Simadibrata CL, Hestiantoro A, Wiweko B, Muna N. Electroacupuncture Enhances Number of Mature Oocytes and Fertility Rates for In Vitro Fertilization. Med Acupunct. 2019 Oct 1;31(5):289-297. doi: 10.1089/acu.2019.1368. Epub 2019 Oct 17. PMID: 31624528; PMCID: PMC6795274
Menghao Xu, Mengdi Zhu, and Cuihong ZhengEffects of Acupuncture on Pregnancy Outcomes in Women Undergoing IVF: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” by (2023)
Shuai Z, Lian F, Li P, Yang W. Effect of transcutaneous electrical acupuncture point stimulation on endometrial receptivity in women undergoing frozen-thawed embryo transfer: a single-blind prospective randomised controlled trial. Acupunct Med. 2015 Feb;33(1):9-15. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2014-010572. Epub 2014 Oct 10. PMID: 25303950.
Smith CA, Armour M, Shewamene Z, Tan HY, Norman RJ, Johnson NP. Acupuncture performed around the time of embryo transfer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reprod Biomed Online. 2019 Mar;38(3):364-379. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2018.12.038. Epub 2019 Jan 2. PMID: 30658892.