Acupuncture Points for Fertility
When you are facing infertility, you would give anything to have the family that you’ve dreamed of. For many people, acupuncture might not be the first treatment they’d choose for infertility — whether it’s skepticism, a fear of needles or something else entirely that’s stopping them.
But when you’re struggling to conceive, you might find yourself willing to try things you never thought that you’d do before in order to have the baby you’re longing for….including acupuncture! Here’s how acupuncture can help you along your fertility journey and why you should consider this alternative treatment to support you through the challenges of infertility.
Does Acupuncture for Fertility Work?
The first thing you might be wondering is, does acupuncture for fertility actually work? Many fertility treatments, such as IVF and IUI, have a strong scientific basis behind them. The evidence behind acupuncture, on the other hand, is less conclusive — but there is still preliminary research to show that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for infertility.
These studies show that acupuncture is most effective when combined with Western methods for fertility treatment, like IVF and IUI. When combining IUI with acupuncture and other techniques from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), conception rates increased by 26 percent.
There are a few reasons why scientists think acupuncture works for infertility. For one thing, acupuncture promotes relaxation and decreases stress levels, regulates the menstrual cycle and improves blood flow to the uterus — all of which may improve fertility.
Acupuncture may also help regulate conditions associated with infertility, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. Additionally, acupuncture can relieve some of the negative side effects of fertility-promoting drugs used in Western treatments, such as bloating and nausea, to make your fertility journey more comfortable.
How to Use Acupuncture for Fertility
Acupuncture should always be performed by a trained professional. Look for an acupuncturist who is registered with the American Board of Medical Acupuncture. These acupuncturists are required to be MDs or DOs, so they have additional medical qualifications in addition to their training in acupuncture that may be helpful for fertility treatment.
Women are advised to begin acupuncture treatments at a hospital or clinic three months before beginning IUI or IVF for the best results. At your first visit, the acupuncturist will interview you about the conditions that may be contributing to your infertility, followed by a 20-to-40-minute session using acupuncture needles.
Acupuncture needles are slim needles used especially to target acupuncture points for fertility. Most people experience little to no pain during these treatments, though the needles may seem intimidating at first! There are also very few side effects, though occasionally bruising may occur at the sites where needles were inserted.
Most acupuncturists will recommend treatment one to three times per week to address the underlying causes of your infertility. You and your partner may both want to schedule acupuncture sessions — especially if you experience male factor infertility — since some studies suggest acupuncture is more effective for fertility treatment when undergone by both partners.
Acupuncture Points for Fertility
During an acupuncture treatment, needles are inserted on up to 12 different points in the body, which are thought to be linked to different organ systems. Thus, when you are undergoing acupuncture to promote fertility, your acupuncturist will likely insert needles at points linked to the reproductive system.
The most common areas where acupuncture needles are selected to be inserted include the head, ears, hands, lower legs, feet and abdomen. However, a few acupuncture points are directly linked to fertility — below, we discuss some of those points, where they are located and how they are thought to improve fertility outcomes in patients.
Zigongxue: Uterus Point
The Zigongxue acupuncture point is located along the centerline, one thumb’s width above the pubic bone. This point is known in English as the “uterus point” because of its usefulness in treating conditions linked to the uterus, including dysmenorrhea (painful periods), infertility and uterine prolapse.
CV2: Curved Bone
The CV2 acupuncture point, known in English as “Curved Bone,” is located in the center of the pubic bone. This point is used to treat problems with feminine discharge, dysmenorrhea, irregular cycles and male infertility.
CV5: Stone Gate
The CV5 acupuncture point, known in English as “Stone Gate,” is located three body inches above the public bone. (In acupuncture, a body inch or “cun” is a specific measurement taken from the finger joints of the patient that signifies the distance between acupuncture points.) The CV5 acupuncture point has classically been used to treat male and female infertility as well as abdominal pain and gastrointestinal issues.
ST30: Surging Qi
The ST30 acupuncture point, known in English as “Surging Qi” (Qi is the ancient Chinese term for the energy that flows throughout the body), is located on the inner groin. Acupuncturists use this point to treat male infertility and regulate menstrual conditions, including irregular periods, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea (lack of periods) and abnormal uterine bleeding.
KD13: Qi Hole
The KD13 acupuncture point, known in English as “Qi Hole,” is located along a line called the kidney meridian. Along with other points along this line, KD13 is useful for abdominal and/or gynecological health conditions, including infertility.