Infertility and Acupuncture FAQ 2

Fertility Treatment Procedures using Acupuncture and Moxibustion 450w

Fertility Treatment Procedures using Acupuncture and Moxibustion

Updated November 2014 by Tim H. Tanaka, Ph.D. R.Ac., R.TCMP.

In which parts of the body are fertility acupuncture points located?

Some of the most well-known acupuncture points traditionally used for infertility are located on the lower back, sacrum, lower abdomen, and the back and inner part of the lower legs. Those regions are also considered very important from a neuroanatomical perspective. The regions are within the spinal nerve segmental innervations of the ovaries and uterus (T10-L2 and S2-S4 dermatomes).20 Series of laboratory studies on rats demonstrated that stimulating acupuncture points located within the T10-L2 and S2-S4 dermatomes significantly influenced ovarian and uterine blood flow via a physiological mechanism called somato-visceral reflex.21-27 Some of the most commonly used acupuncture points for infertility and female reproductive problems are shown on this page.

My previous acupuncturist always treated only one side of the body. 

Our specialized fertility protocol always involves acupuncture stimulation on both the front and back of the body.  As indicated above, there are essential fertility points located in both the front and back part of the body.  Treating a patient in one position severely limits the usage of effective acupuncture points.

Do you use other points besides fertility points?

Besides the fertility points, there are points on the head, neck, upper back, legs and arms that may be used in order to modulate the autonomic nervous system and further induce the relaxation response.

We believe any natural fertility treatment program should address the whole body instead of just reproductive organs. Our comprehensive fertility acupuncture treatment always includes a holistic acupuncture approach, which intends to optimize a patient’s entire organic system, produce a relaxation response, decrease stress and anxiety, and improve overall health. As a result, fertility can be greatly enhanced.

What else besides the acupuncture points determines the effect of the treatment?

In North America, most students learn to treat a patient by matching the condition with prescribed acupuncture points in a textbook. Thus, there are many practitioners who tend to only focus on the selection of acupuncture points, and do not pay enough attention to other equally (if not more) important variables in providing effective acupuncture. Consistent efficacy cannot be expected by simply inserting needles at specific points in the body. Research experiments28-30 demonstrate that even when the same acupuncture point is stimulated, the physiological response varies greatly (sometimes even in opposite directions) depending on how the point is stimulated (the depth of the needle, the intensity, etc.).

I am afraid of needles

Our Japanese acupuncture treatment techniques are distinctively gentle and painless. The needles are inserted typically to no more than one or two millimeters in depth. This painless and gentle needling technique is crucial to increase peripheral blood flow and for the relaxation response to occur. Furthermore, because the procedure is virtually non-invasive, the treatment can be applied safely during luteal phase and early pregnancy. Please visit our acupuncture clinic page for more information about our acupuncture treatment.

During which part of my cycle should I get acupuncture done? Should I come just before ovulation?

It is generally recommended that you receive acupuncture treatments on a regular basis, one to two times a week throughout your cycle, especially during an initial treatment period (the first two to three months) in order to correct underlying imbalances. The cumulative effect from regular acupuncture treatments can produce significant long-lasting benefits. Following the initial period, certain patients may be advised to focus the treatment on a specific phase of their menstrual cycle. Our specialized ferrtility protocol31 utilizes different acupuncture procedures depending on the phase of menstrual cycle (during menstruation, pre-ovulation, ovulation/pre-implantation and luteal phases), in order to further potentiate the therapeutic effect and safety of the treatment. For patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), acupuncture treatment will be modified according to the IVF protocol and phases (pre-stimulation, during stimulation, between egg retrieval and embryo transfer, post transfer). Read more about acupuncture during IVF or IUI

What if I unknowingly become pregnant while I am receiving acupuncture?

As indicated, we utilize different acupuncture procedures depending on the phase of menstrual cycle (during menstruation, pre-ovulation, ovulation/pre-implantation and luteal phases).

After the potential implantation period (usually six to nine days post ovulation), we always consider the possibility of pregnancy and modify our protocol accordingly. The treatment during the later part of the cycle (the Phase 4 approach) is extremely gentle, intended to induce relaxation and minimize the release of harmful stress hormones, which can also help decrease the unwanted uterine contractions. I consider that our Phase 4 approach is not only absolutely safe, but it also helps stabilize the implantation of embryo.  Therefore, I usually recommend those patients, especially those who have histories of recurrent early miscarriages, to continue the treatment during the first trimester.

Unfortunately, many people (including health professionals and acupuncturists) frequently discuss acupuncture in generic terms.  It is important to remember that there are many ways of doing acupuncture, and potential risks and benefits vary greatly depending on who does the treatment and when and what kind of acupuncture methods are used. Please keep in mind this important issue when you read about acupuncture in any media or discuss your acupuncture treatment with your reproductive medicine specialists.

What is moxibustion treatment?

Moxibustion is a form of fire heat treatment that stimulates specific acupuncture points of the body. Moxibustion has been used in tandem with acupuncture to treat a variety of diseases throughout Asia for thousands of years. Most women who have difficulty conceiving have symptoms of cold hands and feet even in the summertime and sufficient blood flow to their reproductive organs is often compromised. The heat stimulation applied on selected acupuncture points helps to increase blood circulation to the uterus and pelvic area. The gentle soothing heat provided by moxa also induces a deep relaxation response that aids fertility as well.

I would like to know more about your acupuncture treatment

I live very far away. Do you have any other locations?

We only have one location at 80 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario.

Because of our reputation and the quality of acupuncture service we offer, many of our patients are not from our neighborhood, but in fact, come from very far.  Whatever the reason, if it is difficult for you to come to our clinic in Toronto, you can try to find a practitioner in your local area. Here are some resources and tips on how to find an acupuncturist for fertility issues in your area.

(Original version of this FAQs was posted on in 2002 by Tim H. Tanaka, Ph.D.)

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