There is a great interest in acupuncture among fertility patients, although it is unclear whether acupuncture really improves the IVF pregnancy rates. Several studies have suggested an improvement in IVF pregnancy rates with acupuncture. In addition, acupuncture may help in decreasing the stress of infertility, which may in turn indirectly improve the likelihood for success with IVF. Decreasing stress during the infertility treatment process is always a good thing. The excellent work of Alice Domar, PhD (Domar Center for Mind/ Body Health,Waltham, Massachusetts) and others has demonstrated the efficacy of the mind-body approach in relieving distress.
Along with acupuncture, there has been an increased interest in other complementary modalities including traditional Chinese herbal remedies. We remain concerned about the use of herbal medicines in patients undergoing medical treatments as many herbs can have significant side effects, including an adverse effect on the clotting cascade, resulting in an increased risk of bleeding. Our current policy is to recommend against the use of herbal medicines unless the content and potency of these supplements are clearly understood by all parties.
I looked into acupuncture during my first IVF cycle. The acupuncturist suggested that I try Reiki, a Japanese form of spiritual healing, because he preferred to treat IVF patients prior to the cycle ever starting. I can’t say that Reiki got me pregnant, but it certainly helped me to relax, and that can never hurt. For women experiencing infertility, being told to “just relax” is one of the most insulting things you can hear, but if you can find a stress-reducing activity—be it yoga, massage, Reiki, acupuncture, or even meditating—it can help you to make it through the emotionally draining times.