At Thomas Acupuncture & Wellness, we provide integrative care using a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicines, and personalized dietary recommendations as needed to support both before and after various routes of conception, including IUI, IVF, donor eggs/sperm, and natural conception.
At our clinic, we strive to work in partnership with allopathic reproductive specialists to help couples heal from within by finding the root cause of unexplained fertility. Our natural and whole-body approach focuses on improving female and male reproductive health to create an optimal internal environment for conception and full-term pregnancy. Post-partum care is also offered to promote recovery and healing after delivery.
Video credit: The Fertility Foundation, compiled by Irina Szmelski, L.Ac, that summarizes some of the benefits of acupuncture for fertility.
Holistic Clinical Support for
Pre + Post Fertility Treatments and Natural Conception Efforts using Integrative Medicine
Clinical studies have shown that using acupuncture in conjunction with fertility treatments can increase conception rates by 26%. Some studies have found that acupuncture used alongside IVF increased the odds of clinical pregnancy by up to 65%.
The goal with providing supplemental acupuncture & holistic healthcare to assistive reproductive technology (ART) and natural conception efforts at our clinic is to restore the overall health of the patient(s), boost the reproductive health functions of each partner, reduce inflammation that may be contributing to infertility and other reproductive disorders, and improve the quality of the egg and sperm itself. Simultaneous treatment for both female and male fertility is recommended for optimal results—as practitioners of integrative medicine, previous data provided by patients and/or collaborating physicians from fertility tests and lab work may also be used to further guide and personalize treatment approaches and other lifestyle and dietary recommendations.
Female Factor & Fertility Support Benefits
Enhancing egg quality and ovarian reserve, helping to produce healthier eggs during IVF
Increasing blood circulation to developing follicles
Increasing blood flow to the uterus, helping the body create a healthy and thickening the uterine lining, which improves the chances of an ovum implanting on the uterine wall.
Decrease IVF side effects, especially during ovarian stimulation and ovulation, caused by rapid changes in hormone levels, including hot flashes, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headaches, etc.
Lowering stress & anxiety associated with infertility: high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol have been shown to have a negative effect on fertility by influencing the HPO (hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian) axis
Modulating the immune system and cytokine levels to reduce overall inflammation in the body
1. Magerelli P et al Fertil Steril 2009 Dec:92(6): 1870-1879
2. Domar A Fertil Steril 2009 Mar:91(3): 723-7263
3. Anecdotal clinical evidence
4. Dehghani, A. S., Homayouni, K., Kanannejad, Z., & Kanannejad, Z. (2020). The effect of acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer on the in vitro fertilization outcomes: An RCT. International journal of reproductive biomedicine, 18(3), 209–214. https://doi.org/10.18502/ijrm.v18i3.6719
5. Manheimer, E., Zhang, G., Udoff, L., Haramati, A., Langenberg, P., Berman, B. M., & Bouter, L. M. (2008). Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 336(7643), 545–549. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39471.430451.BE
Male Factor & Fertility Support
Studies show that male factors contribute to 50% of infertility cases and a combination of female & male factors contribute to infertility 10% of the time.
Male infertility can be due to a number of factors, including abnormal spermatogenesis, reproductive tract anomalies or obstruction, inadequate sexual and ejaculatory functions, and impaired sperm motility [7,8,10]. In 30-40% of men, no cause for infertility is found .
Factors that alter spermatogenesis include endocrine disturbances such as low testosterone levels, exposure to medicines or environmental toxins, varicocele, increased scrotal heat, systemic diseases, smoking and alcohol, and testicular torsion and trauma [5,6,9].
Our approach using acupuncture and holistic treatment that may also include herbal medicines and dietary changes, is aimed at improving sperm quality such as sperm count, sperm mobility and morphology of sperm, reducing inflammation and improving the general male health prior to fertility treatments, sperm donations, and/or natural conception efforts.
Acupuncture can also be used on the day of sperm donation to ease any anxiety and improve blood circulation.
What does the research say?
A number of studies have demonstrated the benefits of acupuncture on sperm quality associated with infertility:
When a group of infertile men received twice weekly acupuncture for 5 weeks, there was a general improvement in the sperm’s structural integrity and a statistically significant increase in the percentage and number of sperm with no structural defects. 
A study of acupuncture on infertile men—in fact, men with such extremely low sperm counts (or no sperm) that testicular biopsy would have been required to collect sperm for ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection, sometimes used in IVF)—demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture in boosting sperm counts. After 10 treatments, the men who initially produced no sperm were able to produce sufficient sperm to no longer require testicular biopsy. 
Another group of infertile men was divided randomly into an acupuncture group and a control group. The acupuncture group received 10 treatments over 5 weeks and demonstrated improved motility and morphology as compared to the control group. 
A before and after study looked at the change in fertilization rates for IVF/ICSI procedures involving men with semen abnormalities and at least two previous poor outcomes with IVF/ICSI. After 8 treatments of acupuncture, fertilization rates increased from 40.2% to 66.2%. 
. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Pei J et al Fertil Steril. 2005 Jul;84(1):141-7, Fertility and Sterility
. Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from subfertility related to low sperm quality. Siterman S et al Arch Androl. 1997 Sep-Oct;39(2):155-61, Archives of Andrology
. Does acupuncture treatment affect sperm density in males with very low sperm count? A pilot study. Siterman S et al Andrologia. 2000 Jan;32(1):31-9., Andrologia
. Influence of acupuncture on idiopathic male infertility in assisted reproductive technology. Zhang M et al J Huazhong Univ Sci Tech Med Sci. 2002;22(3):228-30
. Arap MA et al. Late hormonal levels, semen parameters and presence of antisperm antibodies in patients treated for testicular torsion. J Androl 2007; 28: 528-32.
. Cherry N et al. Occupational exposure to solvents and male infertility. Occup Environ Med 2001; 58: 635-40.
. Dohle GR et al. Guidelines on male infertility. European Association of Urology; 2010.
. Isidori A et al. Treatment of male infertility. Contraception 2005; 72: 314-8.
. Kunzle R et al. Semen quality of male smokers and nonsmokers in infertile couples. Fertil Steril 2003; 79: 287-91.
. Patki P et al. Effects of spinal cord injury on semen parameters. J Spinal Cord Med 2008; 31: 27-32.
. Shefi S, Turek PJ. Definition and current evaluation of subfertile men. Int Braz J Urol 2006; 32:385-97.
Process & Mechanisms
Although acupuncture and holistic treatment is often used to supplement assistive reproductive technology (ART) methods, many root causes contributing to infertility stem from chronic imbalances or deficiencies from within, whether it be hormonal or organ-related, and thus take time and consistent work to realign and strengthen. Our whole-body approach is not to simply “accessorize” ART procedures, but to use scientific and clinical evidence to truly heal the patient mentally and physically and help them become healthy “incubators” for a potential baby. Only by improving the overall health of each partner can the quality of the egg and/or sperm be improved as well, and this is a vital part of the fertility treatment process here at our clinic.
Our comprehensive approach to improving fertility and the chances of a healthy pregnancy include the following:
A detailed intake of the patient/couple’s medical & fertility history, current or previous ART cycles, lifestyle, and average dietary intake
Herbal medicines (ideally in combination with acupuncture to improve outcomes, if indicated for the patient, depending on timing, medical history, and current ART usages)
Prenatal lymphatic cleansing: our CoLymph™ Lymphatic Cleansing Therapy may be recommended for indicated patients to cleanse the lymphatic system and boost immunity and gut health. This will help accelerate the reduction of systemic inflammation within the body that may be contributing to infertility and also bring warmth to the body to improve blood & lymph circulation and organ functions.
Dietary therapy: personalized dietary change recommendations to promote restoration of internal physical and hormonal imbalances and reduce interfering inflammation
Lifestyle changes: daily recommendations to further promote a healthy environment for fertilization & implantation
Expectations & Recommended Timelines
As a result, for women, we recommend
A MINIMUM OF 3 MONTHS of consistent, weekly treatments.
The main reasons why we set this expectation is for the following reasons:
It takes 90 days for an egg to reach full maturation, aka 3 months. A key part of treatment is to improve the quality of the egg itself, and the time frame in which an impact can be made on the egg health is, at minimum, 90 days before ovulation. During this period, the egg is the most sensitive to important health factors that can be modulated, such as sufficient blood flow and oxygenation levels, hormone levels, diet/nutrition, physical or mental stress, and systemic inflammation.
If the patient has additional underlying complications or history (i.e. long-term birth control usage, hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, PCOS, etc.), treatment typically takes longer to address and right the deeply-rooted chronic conditions affecting the patient’s overall health and fertility.
Every patient responds differently to treatment depending on their existing health history, constitution, ongoing IUI or IVF cycles, age, and timing.
For patients undergoing or planning on starting IVF,
we highly recommend AT LEAST 3 MONTHS of consistent acupuncture, herbal medicine, & dietary therapy treatment combination PRIOR to an egg retrieval for better outcomes—as stated above, the goal is to utilize the natural cycles of the female body to first improve the health and quality of the egg before retrieval.As the saying goes—if a house is to lasts, it must be built onfirm foundations.
For men, to improve overall sperm quality,
we recommend 10 treatments over 5-10 weeks
in conjunction with our recommended herbal medicine formulas (if indicated for the patient) as well as dietary therapy, which is crucial for restoring health from within and keeping inflammation at bay. Both male and female partners are recommended to receive treatments together for optimal results.
Ideally, we encourage couples to start improving their long-term health holistically about 6 months to 1 year prior to conception efforts in order to significantly improve outcomes and also promote a healthier pregnancy and post-partum recovery.
Secondary Infertility Treatment
Our clinic also offers the same kinds of therapy and treatment for cases of secondary infertility for both men and women (difficulty getting pregnant after carrying a baby to full-term or after having been pregnant before). Secondary infertility shares many of the same root causes of primary infertility, but the treatment and recommendations may be modified and customized based on the state of the patient’s body after their first pregnancy and any test results that may be available now.
Pregnancy & Post-Partum Care
our treatment focuses more on dietary therapy and lifestyle recommendations to encourage a smooth pregnancy for both the mother and child. We offer one-on-one consultations, both in-person and online via telemedicine appointments, for continued monitoring and holistic care throughout the pregnancy.
the body will experience a number of changes and trauma, and we believe post-partum care is equally crucial to help return the body to a state of balance and promote healing. During this period, your treatment will focus on restorative acupuncture and dietary therapy to:
Help boost your body’s healing abilities internally and with the healing of cesarean-section scars
Restore & improve blood supply and circulation
Improve energy levels and pain
Rebalance hormones and emotional fluctuations—i.e. post-partum depression, anxiety, stress
Help build lactation
Address persistent bleeding
Relieve abdominal pain
Resolve night sweats
Post-partum holistic dietary therapy is offered via in-person or online consultations anytime after delivery.
The first 40 days after childbirth is crucial for the mothers and their healing process, and utilizing the right holistic nutrition approaches can significantly help during this phase.