A recent study of blood flow to the uterus examined the effect of electroacupuncture during the drug stimulation phase of an IVF cycle. The blood flow in the uterine artery was increased in the group of women who had acupuncture but not in the control group. More women in the acupuncture group responded to the IVF drugs than in the control group; however the pregnancy rates were not significantly different between the two groups.
Previous studies have shown that reduced blood flow in the uterine arteries is associated with a decreased pregnancy rate following IVF-embryo transfer. This study reported in Human Reproduction (the official journal of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) shows that after eight acupuncture treatments, blood flow to the uterus was markedly increased.
The blood flow to the ovaries has also been shown to be enhanced by acupuncture by the same researchers. This study was done on anaesthetized rats but we can assume a similar mechanism will operate in humans.
This small pilot study examined the effect of Viagra and acupuncture on the uterine linings of women who had a history of thin linings (<8mm) in previous IVF cycles (including patients who had previously used Viagra alone). They used the above mentioned protocols which improve blood flow to the ovaries and uterus. The researchers found that after acupuncture treatment the thickness of the lining improved to 10 mm or more in all participating patients.