Acupuncture & Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

From time to time intended parents ask our surrogates to consider acupuncture as part of their transfer procedure. While not incredibly common, there is some research that suggests a proper fertility acupuncturist may help increase the odds of a successful IVF cycle. Given all the time, money, and hope invested in your transfer being successful, it’s not hard to imagine why some intended parents want you to consider having this procedure done. Here’s what you need to know.

It doesn’t hurt.

The first concern most surrogates have is whether the needle insertion is painful. After the IVF injection protocol you’ve just been through, this is a totally fair question. Know that, unlike your IVF needles, the needles used in acupuncture are hair-thin. You’ll also likely only have about 10 needles in you at any given time, not the 100+ typically seen on television comedies depicting acupuncture. Most women say that the pain of needle insertion is minimal, and once inserted, they become unaware of the needle at all.

Acupuncture is ancient.

In a fun twist of irony, those wishing to have acupuncture to help with IVF success are now pairing some of the world’s most ancient medicine with the very latest in fertility medicine. While the art of IVF is still relatively young, Eastern medicine has been using acupuncture for centuries.

Self-Healing.

Practitioners believe that acupuncture encourages the body to self-heal through increased circulation. Eastern medicine doctors believe that this leads the body releasing a healthier egg at ovulation and a reduction in inflammation that could prevent that egg from implanting into the uterus and growing. Acupuncture also can improve hormone balance.

More is More.

Most practitioners tell clients that, when it comes to the number of treatments, there is no such thing as overdoing it when it comes to acupuncture. Many will encourage sessions both pre and post-embryo transfer.

It’s safe.

There are generally minimal risks associated with acupuncture therapy. When administered by a fertility specialist, these minimal risks decrease even more. Most doctors consider the practice overwhelmingly safe.

It’s your choice.

In the end, your intended parents can only ask you to consent to acupuncture. Unless you agreed to it during your contract phase, you are not obligated to consent to this extra treatment. In most cases, if you consent, the acupuncturist will conduct the treatment in the transfer room before you get up from the transfer. On some occasions, a surrogate may elect to have the procedure completed in her hotel room. Do understand that you are not obligated to consent to this treatment; the choice is yours. If you have further questions, you can reach out to your case specialist for guidance.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.