Can you use acupuncture to support you when undergoing IVF treatments?

Acupuncture for PCOS

Acupuncture for IVF Support

This is another really common question we hear in the clinic – “Can I use acupucnture to help support my IVF treatments?”

The journey through any ART (assisted reproductive technology) can be a stressful one (1). When working with Women or couples undergoing IVF treatments, we will always use the language of our medicine to help us come to a diagnosis, and to help us soothe some of  the stress that can occur whilst going through a cycle.

We understand that many women are choosing to go through IVF treatments to increase their chance of falling pregnant. We are here to offer support as an adjunct therapy. There have been various research studies performed around the use of acupuncture as an adjunct therapy in ART. Some of the studies have been very positive, others have shown limited positive effect – i.e. the results were unclear (2). However, a more recent systematic review from 2016 (3) has shown very positive results, with acupuncture improving Clinical Pregnancy Rates (CPR) in women undergoing IVF.


What does  Acupuncture IVF Support involve?

Regardless of whether you are using ART (assisted reproduction technology) or not, our goal as TCM practitioners is to regulate your energy  (Qi) and Blood, thereby helping to nourish your menstrual health.  Of course, Western medical knowledge tells us that healthy ovulation is important for fertility. For us, the signs and symptoms surrounding your menstrual cycle are clues.  If we can eradicate annoying signs and symptoms associated with your cycle, then we are heading the right direction.  We always talk about these things in terms of Yin, Yang, Qi and Blood – you’ll get used to us using these terms! We will use acupuncture, Chinese Medicine and assist with dietary and lifestyle advice.


Pre and Post Embryo transfer:

Again, there have been mixed reviews in published  articles surrounding the use of acupuncture around embryo transfer , some very positive and others unclear. (4-8) . Protocols varied  – some opted for acupuncture before embryo transfer only, others opted for acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer.  Treatments were aimed at increasing blood flow to the uterus, reducing stress and preventing uterine cramping (7,8).

The journey through any ART (assisted reproductive technology) can be a stressful one as identified in recent research reviews. Acupuncture may be a useful adjunct in reducing stress and anxiety in women undergoing IVF (1).


 Acupuncture during IVF treatments:

The frequency of treatments during IVF vary – you will always be given a treatment plan as part of your initial consultation . This is in line with how treatment protocols are administered in clinical practice in Australia and most other countries for that matter.   During your acupucnture treatments with us, we’re aiming to keep you as symptom free as possible, as well as maintain a healthy flow of Qi and Blood through your reproductive organs. through the reproductive organs.


More on the research: We are aware of the limitations of gold-standard western trials using acupuncture during assisted reproductive technologies. Organising large scale trials is time consuming and hugely expensive, which is why research of this nature can be scarce, and why we will sometimes cite good quality trials that are not necessarily systematic reviews or meta analysis. We are glad to see that acupuncture has found support amongst local IVF clinics as a suitable complementary therapy when undergoing IVF (12).


If you’d like to ask some more questions about how we can help you, or to find an available appointment, please give us a call in the clinic on 3357 3205. 


Useful Links:

 Can acupuncture can reduce stress on the day of embryo transfer?

 Unexplained infertility is written about in some length here .




  1. Eugster A, Vingerhoets AJ. Psychological aspects of in vitro fertilization: a review. Soc Sci Med. 1999 Mar;48(5):575-89.
  2. McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised Edition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
  3. Qian Y et al. 2017 Mar;295(3):543-558. doi: 10.1007/s00404-016-4255-y. Epub 2016 Dec 19.
  4. Stener-Victorin E, Humaidan P. Use of acupuncture in female infertility and a summary of recent acupuncture studies related to embryo transfer. Acupunct Med. 2006 Dec;24(4):157-63.
  5. Manheimer E et al. BMJ 2008;336 pg 545-549 British Medical Journal
  6. Stener-Victorin E, Humaidan P. Use of acupuncture in female infertility and a summary of recent acupuncture studies related to embryo transfer. Acupunct Med. 2006 Dec;24(4):157-63.
  7. Paulus W et al, Fertil Steril 2002 Vol 77, pg 721-724 Fertility and Sterility
  8.  Westergaard L et al, Fertil Steril 2006 Vol 85, pg 1341-1346 Fertility and Sterility
  9. City Fertility Centre,  Complementary Therapies and IVF MFS05_ComplementaryTherepiesandIVF_0314.pdf-web.pdf     viewed 4/7/17


  1. Magarelli, PC, D Cridennda, M Cohen. Fertil Steril. 2009 Dec;92(6):1870-9 Fertility and Sterility
  1. Huang ST, Chen AP. Traditional Chinese medicine and infertility. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Jun;20(3):211-5.
  2. Grant LE, Cochrane S, AJACM 2014, vol 9 Issue 1, pg 5 Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine
  3. Fan Qu et al, Sci Rep Nature, (2014), 4, Article number: 5028  Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing


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