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How acupuncture can help with fertility

How can acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine help with fertility and conception?

Traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine) can help the treatment of infertility and benefit conception by harmonising the yin, yang, Qi and blood within the body with an emphasis on balancing the kidneys, liver and spleen to strengthen the body and regulate the menstrual cycle.

The kidneys play a supremely important role in human life and development and are often referred to as the ‘root of life’. In TCM theory, the kidneys along with the liver and spleen play vital role in the production and regulation of blood and nourishment of the uterus and sperm.

The TCM approach to fertility is to facilitate harmony in the kidneys, liver and spleen, as well as the system as a whole prior to conception and during pregnancy. This can help the parents to conceive, the mother to have a smoother pregnancy and the child to develop to their greatest potential.

Research suggests that TCM could increase the production of GnRH (Gonadotropin-releasing hormone) by affecting the expression of β-endorphin (Beta-Endorphin) to benefit the regulation of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), oestrogen and progesterone.

As there are two parts to the equation, TCM can help balance the man’s hormonal system and increase levels of virility by addressing underlying factors that can influence sperm count and motility. Examples of these factors can be linked to stress, fatigue, genetic constitution, diet, lifestyle, Qi stagnation, blood stasis, damp heat, environmental toxins, prescription and recreational drugs and trauma.

When should I have acupuncture for conception, why and how often should I seek treatment?

It is recommended that a woman should begin to implement preconception advice at least 3 months before attempting to conceive. If imbalance is present, treatments should be regular, even weekly, as it is important to correct any disharmony prior to conception. Chronic imbalance is more likely to lead to difficulties conceiving, leave her feeling unwell during pregnancy and can have a flow on effect for the child’s long and short-term development.  

Signs that you would consider TCM prior to attempting to conceive are premenstrual tension, breast distension, irritability, depression, abdominal pain, headaches and back pain around the time of your period, as well as irregular periods cycles (early or late) and heavy or light periods, though this is not an exhaustive list. Women who suffer recurrent miscarriages can also find great help from TCM.

The condition of artery uterine blood flow, endometrial thickness and morphology are considered important factors in the success rate of IVF and ET. Recent research has found that acupuncture can play a beneficial role in the outcomes of IVF (In vitro fertilisation) / ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) in the luteal phase. Acupuncture during the period of ET (embryo transfer) was found to be safe and showed improvement in the reproductive results of IVF / ICSI. The mechanism of acupuncture to improve results of IVF in summary is to regulate neuro-endocrinological factors, strengthen blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, regulate cytokines and decrease mental stress.

What are the best fertility supplements?

Quality over quantity. Research suggests that a woman only needs around an extra 50 calories per day during the first 6 months of pregnancy (less than one apple). Quality of food is more important than quantity, and eating the right food is one of the most important things a parent can do for their unborn child’s development prior to conception and during pregnancy.  

Women should be aware to have sufficient manganese, zinc and folic acid in their diet, and men’s fertility is benefited by ensuring adequate Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, Manganese, Potassium, Selenium and amino acids arginine and lysine.

Vegetarians and vegans should be mindful that B2, B6, B12, vitamin D, zinc, iron and calcium deficiency can occur as a plant-based diet can be low in these important nutrients.

Some of the things to avoid when trying to get pregnant are; coffee, sugary food, processed foods, alcohol, smoking (which should be avoided anyway) and MSG. Tap water isn’t ideal as the presents of chemicals vary, so filtered water is also advised. 

A balanced diet is generally the best way to optimise nutrition, but supplements can help when needed. The Health Lodge’s integrative medicine model enables a highly skilled team of naturopaths and doctors to help address any nutrient imbalance and provide you with personalised support and the best outcomes when embarking on the miracle of life.

Better health means better fertility. By TCM’s ability to help reduce stress and anxiety, regulate the menstrual cycle and digestive system, and harmonise the flow of Qi and blood in the body, TCM is a useful complementary therapy to consider when you are having difficulty conceiving, or would like to ensure your body can provide the best platform for your child’s development.


Fang, L. Hai-cui, W. Zhen-gao, S. Ying, G. Lei, S. Ming-yue, X. 2014 ‘Effects of Luiwei Dihuang Granule on the outcomes of In Vitro fertilization Pre-Embryo Transfer in Infertility women with Kidney-Yin Deficiency syndrome and Proteome Expressions in the Follicular Fluid’ The Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine Press, July;20 (7): pp. 503-509
Ju-feng, X. Inagaki, Y. Jian-feng, Z. Ling, W. Pei-pei, S. 2017, ‘Chinese Medicine as Complementary Therapy for Female Infertility’, The Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine, April: 23(4), pp. 245 – 252

Maciocia, G. 2005, The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, Second Edition, Elsevier Churchill Livingstone, China

Ni, D. Herko, D. 2009, ‘The Tao of Fertility’, Harper Collins e-books

Lacey, S. Smith, C. Paterson, C. 2009 ‘Building resilience: A preliminary exploration of women’s perceptions of the use of acupuncture as an adjunct to In Vitro Fertilisation’ BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 9: 50 pp. 1-11

West, Z. 2008, ‘Acupuncture in Pregnancy & Childbirth’, Second Edition, Churchill Livingstone, imprint of Elsevier Ltd, China

Xin, M. He, J. Zhang, Y. Wu, Y. Yang, W. Liang, X. Yin, X. 2019 ‘Chinese herbal decoction of Wenshen Yangxue formula improved fertility and pregnancy rate in mice through PI3k/Akt signalling’, Wiley Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, 120: pp. 3082-3090

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