Acupuncture and Embryo Transfer: What’s All The Fuss About?

By Kristin Wisgirda, Lic, M.Ac.
Senior Staff Acupuncturist
 The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF

Acupuncture has a long history of treating infertility in traditional Asian cultures.

The fuss in the IVF realm started back in 2003 when the first study appeared showing that acupuncture improved IVF pregnancy and live birth rates when performed directly before and after embryo transfer. This study has been repeated a number of times with similar results leading one reviewer to conclude that for every 9 pre/post embryo transfer acupuncture treatments, there is one extra baby born (Manheimer et al, British Medical Journal, 2008).

But how does two half-hour acupuncture treatments make such a difference?

The responsible mechanism is unclear but we do know that acupuncture can work in three ways that may affect fertility:

  1. Improves blood flow to the ovaries and the uterus.
  2. Relaxes uterine spasms. This is important since lowered uterine contraction frequency at transfer time is correlated with improved pregnancy rates.
  3. Calms your nervous system.

Reread the last one again. CALMS YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM!

Transfer day is a BIG DAY and you may feel like all of the stress of the cycle so far culminates here. I see so many patients come for the pre embryo transfer treatment in a whirlwind of anxiety. Once the treatment is done, I then watch them float out of the treatment room on a sea of calm – in a much better state of mind to meet their embryos.

The Logistics

At the Domar Center, pre/post transfer acupuncture treatments are available 7 days a week for patients of any fertility center, not just Boston IVF. Once you know your transfer time, our staff can book your acupuncture to make the day run smoothly for you. Pre/post transfer treatments are a priority, so we make every effort to accommodate you.

The first treatment is done face down in a peaceful room with soothing music. Needles are placed in your low back, ankles and at the base of your skull. After 25 minutes, the needles are removed and you float – remember that sea of calm – over to have your transfer. After the transfer, you come back to the Domar Center where your acupuncturist is on the lookout for you. As soon as possible, you receive the second treatment which is done face up. Points are needled to further help calm the uterus and send extra resources to the uterus and its new occupants.


Kristin graduated in 1999 from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego with a Masters degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine. She is a Diplomate in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology with the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

She has extensive experience supporting women and men struggling with infertility. She maintains a private practice in Brockton, MA. Her expertise lies in the areas of fertility, gynecological problems, digestive disorders, stress management, and pain.