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Alternative Fertility Treatment: Acupuncture and Moxibustion

Alternative Fertility Treatment: Acupuncture and Moxibustion

There is a wide array of natural healing methods that aid in infertility; acupuncture combined with moxibustion is one of them. Acupuncture aids in the health of the whole person, healing many different aspects of the person. This includes not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well. Acupuncture is whole body healing; this therapy is recommended as part of general health maintenance.

If you are a person who has never tried acupuncture, it may seem scary. Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into the body to stimulate healing. A complete intake form and assessment is done with the patient prior to treatment. It is very similar to going to any sort of health practitioner’s office.

The acupuncturist chooses certain points on the body to insert the needles, based on what they feel needs to be stimulated for healing. The needles are inserted using a gentle tap. The practitioner then manipulates the needles. The needles used are very thin and most points are painless. The needles are not inserted very deep.

Some Acupuncturists find that using moxibustion in combination with acupuncture greatly enhances the healing of infertility. There are different types of moxibustion, also called moxa. Moxa comes from the word mugosa, which means Mugwort herb. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is burned in different ways for moxa treatment. The intention of using moxa is to bring heat to the area being treated. Mugwort is known to stimulate blood flow to the pelvic area, especially the uterus. This enhances the healing benefits of acupuncture. It is especially effective for what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) refers to as blood stasis, or a cold uterus. This is explained more in the interview below. You can see acupuncture and moxibustion treatment being performed in this video…

Video: Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Natural Fertility Health

Interview with Acupuncturist Alicia De Martin, L.Ac.

NFI: How can Acupuncture support healthy fertility?

Alicia: Acupuncture enhances circulation of blood in the pelvis, relaxes the cervix and uterus, regulates the menstrual cycle, and can even dissolve small fibroids, when combined with Chinese herbal therapy. Acupuncture is also helpful in regulating hormone levels- especially low progesterone, and treating PCOS. Acupuncture is also excellent at treating stress and anxiety, which often occur with a diagnosis of infertility.

NFI: Can acupuncture be complementary treatment for medical fertility treatments?

Alicia: Absolutely. In fact, fertility MDs often recommend acupuncture treatments while a patient is undergoing IVF, as acupuncture has been clinically found to enhance success rates of IVF from 40-60%!

NFI: Who is a good candidate for acupuncture specific to fertility?

Alicia: I have worked successfully with patients who have a diagnosis of poor pelvic blood flow, blocked fallopian tubes, PCOS, and luteal phase defect. Often, there is not a definite western medical diagnosis for the infertility, but Chinese medicine can uncover more subtle imbalances that are at the root of a patient’s infertility.

NFI: Is acupuncture for fertility good for men as well? Can it aid in low sperm health and count?

Alicia: Yes. Chinese herbs are often used in combination with acupuncture for poor sperm count, mobility or morphology issues. Sperm health is related to general health. In TCM, we believe that poor sperm health can be addressed in looking at the diet and lifestyle of the patient as well, so I often recommend diet and lifestyle changes.

NFI: Women already receiving acupuncture for fertility often wonder what a cold uterus means; could you please explain.

Alicia: I see lots of this presentation clinically! Working (or playing!) outside in the cold during menses or with an exposed midsection allows cold to enter into the uterus through the open cervix or umbilicus. Cold causes cramps made better with heat application to the belly, as well as other symptoms. Cold creates stagnation of qi and blood and can lead to issues with the menstrual cycle and eventually to fertility issues if the stagnation is severe enough. Cold uterus is treated through a combination of moxibustion (needle-top moxa) and internally-warming herbs.

NFI: What is moxibustion? How does it aid in healthy fertility?

Alicia: Moxibustion is the application of prepared Artemesia that is lit and burned either directly on an acupuncture point, or used to warm the acupuncture needle by heating the needle shaft with moxa burning on the handle. Moxa is warming, moving, and tonifying and I often use it to warm the uterus.

NFI: For women preparing for IVF, how far in advance of the transfer should a woman begin acupuncture? How often after the transfer should she get acupuncture?

Alicia: As soon as a woman knows she will begin IVF cycle is the best time, ideally. At the very least 1 month before transfer, twice per week. After the transfer within 24 hours ideally.

If you are someone who has suffered with difficulties in trying to conceive, or have known fertility issues such as PCOS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, etc., you may want to consider acupuncture as part of your Natural Fertility healing plan. If you are a woman that already receives acupuncture regularly, but have never had moxibustion done, ask your acupuncturist if it may be right for you.

It is important to remember that acupuncture cannot be as effective if other healthy lifestyle habits are not in place, such as proper diet and exercise! Be well and walk in peace!

Special thanks to Alicia DeMartin, L.Ac. for sharing her expertise with us! Alicia lives and practices in Fairfield, CT.


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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  1. Avatar

    I want to give me your treatment accupunture and other to increase my level for pregnancy

  2. Avatar

    Hello ladies,

    I love acupuncture – it has been super helpful regulating my circadian rhythm after long-haul flights. I have recently started seeing the acupuncturist to help with luteal phase defect after being on the pill for 12 years (35, healthy diet, exercise, plan to begin TTC as soon as my cycle normalizes). My acupuncturist just ordered an herb blend (women’s precious tea pills). They contain talcum, and after some research I am finding links to ovarian cancer + asbestos… would you recommend avoiding the pills and just focussing on the acupuncture itself?
    Many thanks for your time

    • Hello C!

      So glad to hear of the benefits you’ve received from acupuncture!

      I would suggest talking to your acupuncturist about this ingredient, it’s purpose in the formula and amount. Hua Si or talcum powder is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine formulations for medicinal benefit. I am not an TCM herbalist, so talking this through with your Acupuncturist is best.

      I hope you keep seeing great success!

  3. Avatar

    Is it “forbidden” to stimulate lower abdominal area and to apply a heat lamp on there after ovulation? I understand opinions differ between practitioners but what would be your opinion please? (TTC naturally, unexplained infertility).
    Thank you!

    • Dear Jane,

      I wouldn’t say heat on the lower abdomen is “forbidden”, but if actively trying to conceive, any heat more than a warm bath or shower is not suggested after ovulation. I am not certain the purpose of using a heat lamp as I know this tool.

  4. Avatar

    I have a question ..Do you know what accupunture points to do for IVF?

    • Dear Yaneth,

      We do not have an acupuncturist on staff or feel this is a natural therapy to try without one (unless you are a trained acupuncturist).

      I’m not certain if it will be helpful as you continue to learn the acupuncture points, but we have a guide to Improve Fertility Easily With Acupressure… many of the points are often similar although I understand may be more specific.

      My best!

  5. Avatar

    please help me with a name of an accupunturist in durban

    • Dear Sharon,

      I am sorry, we don’t keep a list of alternative practitioners that we refer to. Consider simply doing an internet search or asking other practitioners if they can refer you to someone they trust.

      Best of luck!

    • Avatar

      Dr Catherine Knight in Westville is amazing!

  6. Avatar

    Question: generally, how many acupunture treatments are required to treat PCOS or infertility?

    Question: how to identify qualified acupunture physicians in Philadelphia area

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Rick!

      Each person responds differently and at a different rate to acupuncture, so I can not say how many acupuncture treatments are required for PCOS. The acupuncturist you find will be able to best guide you in how may treatments he/she feels are needed.

      Acupuncturists are typically not physicians, some may be chiropractors however. One place to start your search for a qualified acupuncturist is the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, NCCAOM.

      It is wonderful that you are considering this natural therapy!

  7. This is a great article for those who are wondering if alternative medicine especially Acupuncture has benefits on their fertility and for those who don’t know what moxibustion is.
    People must know about this “Acupuncture is also excellent at treating stress and anxiety, which often occur with a diagnosis of infertility.” as stated in your article.

    • Avatar

      I am doing the Fertility Cleanse right now, and it is going take 15 more days to complete. Meanwhile I am doing Self Fertility Massage until ovulation. I will start the OvaWise Egg Health Kit after my cleanse. My question is, can I have acupuncture while taking these herbs and doing Self Fertility Massage?

    • Dear Palavi,

      The herbs and nutritional supplements of the Fertility Cleanse and the OvaWise Egg Health Kit along with Self Fertility Massage can all be combined with acupuncture. Simply be sure your acupuncturist is aware of all that you are taking and doing to support your fertility health.

      I hope your program is going well!