There are several by which acupuncture could influence the results of In vitro Fertilization – IVF. Acupuncture has been shown in some studies to affect the levels of pituitary and ovarian hormones. Electro-acupuncture may help improve blood flow in the uterine arteries of infertile women.

The most immediate possible effect is that acupuncture served to “relax” the uterus around the time of the transfer. Several studies have shown that the uterus has contractions and that these contractions could cause expulsion of the transferred IVF embryos. If the contractions were reduced by acupuncture then that could be a mechanism for an improvement in IVF pregnancy rate.

However, researchers performing a study on 164 IVF patients found that acupuncture did not reduce uterine contractions. Furthermore, implantation of the embryos into the uterine lining does not occur for two to five days after embryo transfer depending upon when the embryos were transferred. It is unknown whether the effect of acupuncture performed on the day embryo transfer would last until the day of embryo implantation or longer.

Many patients have been told that they should use acupuncture for IVF because they will respond better to medication, get more eggs, get healthier eggs, or get higher pregnancy rates. Many women with specific problems such as high FSH levels or miscarriages have been promised that acupuncture will cure all these problems. To date, however, there is no objective data that backs up these claims.