Fact or Fiction: Clarifying “Fertility Urban Legends”

By Michelle P. Hay, Lic. M.Ac
Licensed Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist
Co- Director Acupuncture Services, The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health

Each week, my patients (from Boston and throughout New England) ask me about numerous subject matters that I deem appropriate to fall under the category of “Fertility Urban Legends”.

A Fertility Urban Legend is a exaggerated rule/guideline that is floating out in the fertility community. Mostly these are broad statements that can be found online throughout various sites and blogs that don’t always have hard facts to back it up. Appropriately, this blog entry shall focus on debunking the three main “myths” I am asked about by patients.

True or False:

Acupuncture isn’t safe during an IVF cycle or pregnancy.

Answer: FALSE!

Acupuncture is safe to use throughout your entire cycle or pregnancy. It does not interfere with stimulating medication — or any aspect of reproductive science — in any way. Actually, using acupuncture through an IVF cycle may help treat some of the side effects of the medications such as bloating, nausea, cramps, and emotional ups and downs. Once you have an embryo transfer, your treatment strategy changes. The acupuncture team goes on the assumption that you can attain a pregnancy at any time and will treat you accordingly.

Being too hot can damage your eggs / embryos. Using a warming blanket on our acupuncture & massage tables can damage your egg quality.

Answer: FALSE!

It’s totally okay to bask in the warmth of our heat lamps and table warmers while at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health — at any point in your cycle. It will not interfere with your egg, embryos or embryo implantation. The main reasons why patients are told to be wary of high temperatures, such as hot tubs or jacuzzi’s, is due to the effect that it has on your blood pressure and swelling. During stimulation and after your retrieval, most women still have swollen ovaries with fluid accumulation. It is important not to add any heat to your abdomen during these times that exceed 100F as it can cause an increase in swelling. Not to mention that you are more prone to feeling dizzy and possibly passing out when your body temp goes up rapidly while you are steeped in hot water higher than 100F.

Massage is unsafe during an IVF cycle or pregnancy.

Answer: FALSE!

There is no clinical evidence that shows massage can cause miscarriage or stimulate labor. Once again, while cycling using stimulating medication, you should not have your abdomen massaged. This is due to the swelling of your ovaries and the fluid that your retain as a result of the medication. After a transfer, it is perfectly safe to have a massage — just don’t have your abdomen massaged. Your uterus is a well protected part of your body that is not easily influenced by anything external. Consider that if massage truly encouraged labor, you would see massage therapy offices overrun with expectant women who are past their due date looking to encourage labor. This clearly is just not the case.

In conclusion — knowing the facts is important. If you ever have a question, the Domar Center is open 7 days a week and there is always someone available to help. Similar to what the nursing staff and your physicians tell you, there is no such thing as a dumb question. We want you to feel safe and secure in how you optimize your fertility health. The Domar Center/Boston IVF team is committed to staying abreast of the latest research, so it’s our job to be informed.

The internet is not the best source for information regarding infertility and fertility health. We are. Take advantage of our knowledge base and quell your fears.



Michelle Hay is a graduate from the New England School of Acupuncture where she received a Masters degree in Asian Medicine and Herbal Studies. Her undergraduate is from Quinnipiac College where she attained a B.S. in Respiratory Therapy.

Michelle has worked in numerous hospital and clinical settings in Connecticut and Massachusetts including Hartford Hospital, Newton Wellesley Hospital, and Pathways to Wellness. Her background and education allow her to have a unique perspective of both Eastern and Western medicine. Her expertise is infertility (reprodcutive science), anxiety, all gynecological issues, digestive disorders and respiratory disorders including asthma.