Recently, acupuncture has been blogged about quite a bit. In fact, acupuncture is one of the favorite topics of Han’s Chiropractic blog! Acupuncture is being studied more frequently by western medicine and found to be a safe, effective addition to traditional medical treatments. One area of study is how acupuncture helps infertility. In general the main questions to address are how does it work; what to expect; and how many treatments?
How acupuncture works?
Acupuncture is a form of traditional, natural medicine over 3,000 years old. It is not a panacea, but a form of treatment that has been proven to work on many different types of illnesses or conditions by itself, or in conjunction with medical interventions and treatments.
Acupuncture is preformed by inserting tiny needles into specific points along the body called meridians. These points are at strategic places which help to re-balance the ‘Qi’ or energy of the body. There are various types of energy—suffice it to say—the insertion of needles at specific points realign or re-balance the energy of the body bringing healing to the meridians which are ‘off’ through increased blood flow.
Acupuncture can help increase fertility by improving blood flow to the ovaries and uterus. This improved blood flow can help thicken the lining of the uterus, thus increasing the chances of conception. Additionally, acupuncture has been proven to reduce stress. Stress is an important factor to be addressed during infertility treatment. Reducing stress makes it easier to become pregnant.
What to expect and how many treatments
Women are often advised to start acupuncture 3 months before they start treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).
Dr. Han will generally recommends treatments 1–3 times a week. Each session may last up to 45 minutes with an acupuncture session of 15–30 minutes (sometimes longer).
Dr. Jamie Grifo, director of the New York University Fertility Center and director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said “…acupuncture does help some patients have better success.” 
Other physicians go on to note that acupuncture could help to correct problems with the body’s neuro-endocrine system. The neuro-endocrine system is the mechanism by which the hypothalamus maintains homeostasis, regulating reproduction, metabolism, eating and drinking behavior, energy utilization, and blood pressure. Acupuncture does activate the brain to release hormones that will stimulate the ovaries, adrenal glands and other organs that are involved in reproduction.
Studies that have been done on acupuncture and fertility have had mixed results, with some showing benefits and others showing none. Grifo noted the differing results may have something to do with the design of the studies. Two areas that appear to be more consistently helped by acupuncture treatments are in vitro fertilization and women who are infertile due to polycystic ovary syndrome. 
If you have questions about how acupuncture can help infertility treatments be more effective, please contact Dr. Han today!