Acupuncture for Stress Relief during In-vitro Fertilization

by. Dr. Lin Zhou, OMD, l.Ac., FABORM

Stress and anxiety levels can be significantly higher during in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, particularly if the woman has tried multiple times to conceive without success. This is because reproducing is one of our most compelling biological urges and the inability to do so causes stress that can profoundly affect our wellbeing. Recurring stress puts the body in a state that produces several hormones and chemicals that can further put the body away from the ideal state to achieve pregnancy. Peradventure if the stress level increases during this period, then the chances of getting a successful IVF treatment is low.

Acupuncture originated from the integral part of Chinese medicine, which has been known to exist for more than three millenniums. Using acupuncture has become a norm in the western world due to increase in popularity. It is an excellent stress reduction therapy which can significantly reduce your stress levels and improve your general wellbeing to increase your chances of having a successful IVF treatment. With various research carried out, acupuncture has been found to inhibit the hormones responsible for stress thereby increasing the level of endorphin*. Positive reviews are made by patients after they have undergone acupuncture treatment in which most have experienced a relaxed body, not minding the stress associated with IVF treatment.

A study carried out measuring the dose dependent effect of acupuncture on stress for women undergoing IVF discovered that elevated stress levels persist in women receiving only a single acupuncture treatment on the day of embryo transfer. It was also observed that women who were administered series of acupuncture treatment before the embryo was transferred experienced a high reduction in the level of stress*.

As researched, it appears that acupuncture is highly effective in stress reduction for women receiving IVF in respect with the dosage. The study analyzed the result of women receiving a single acupuncture treatment on the same day the embryo is transferred and also studied women that have been receiving acupuncture treatment over a month. It was observed that series of acupuncture treatment sessions is required to significantly reduce the level of stress in IVF. 

As a result of the positive outcomes demonstrated through the use of acupuncture, it has proven to be a great help in the scientific community. As more research is carried out to modify and derive improved positive outcomes associated with stress reduction, the integration of the acupuncture treatment into the standard protocol during IVF tends to increase.

Multiple administration of acupuncture is proving to be the key to stress relief during IVF and has been suggested to be an important therapeutic intervention before the application of In-vitro fertilization.



*Balk, J., Catov, J., Horn, B., Gecsi, K., & Wakim, A. (2010). The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: A pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 16(3), 154-157. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2009.11.004