IVF Support


Undergoing IVF can be a stress-causing procedure which can give rise to anxiety.  Experiencing unsuccessful cycles, waiting for treatment results and the uncertainty of the success can lead to couples experiencing disappointment, annoyance, and significant psychological distress such as grief, depression, anxiety or chronic stress.  Psychological stress can adversely affect the hypothalamic-pituitary axis and even the possibility of a successful pregnancy following  (1, 2).


Day of transfer treatment

Acupuncture on the day of an in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) transfer is popular; however, there is no evidence that acupuncture on the day of transfer improves pregnancy and live birth rates.  The day of transfer can be very stressful and anxiety provoking.  Taking some time out, especially after the transfer relax may help manage some of the on-the-day stress and anxiety.

Massage or acupuncture may be helpful on the day of transfer to decreasing anxiety and relieving muscle tension associated with stress and anxiety related to the transfer. 


Starting an IVF cycle.

Research has found that psychological stress can affect both men and women, with psychological stress leading to lower serum total testosterone levels with secondary rises in serum luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels altering seminal quality in men (5).  In women, psychlogical stress can increase the level of cortisol (a stress hormone) which inhibits estradiol production/biosynthesis by “affecting the granulosa cell functions within the follicle” (6) which leads to a deterioration of the quality of the oocyte and, in IVF, a reduction in the number of retrieved oocytes (6).

Both acupuncture or massage may assist in helping manage psychological stress associated with undergoing an IVF cycle and support the couple to limit any psychological stress-related effects. 


Pre-IVF treatment

It takes about 4 months for the production of an oocytes (egg) to a mature egg that is ready for conception.  Thus psychological stress experienced 3-4 months before the day of egg retrieval may potentially influence the development of the egg.  However, many individuals endure psychological stress and encounter no problems conceiving.   If you feel that stress is a component of your infertility or a result of your infertility and you would like to take some action to manage the psychological stress then massage or acupuncture may provide some stress and anxiety benefits.  There is no peer-reviewed evidence on the effectiviness of either massage or acupuncture as a ‘preparation’ treatment to improve IVF outcomes.

Both acupuncture or massage may assist in supporting couples who feel that psychological stress is a component of their infertility or a result of their infertility and wish to counteract some of that stress and anxiety before undertaking an IVF cycle. 



  1. Hassanzadeh Bashtian, M., Latifnejad Roudsari, R., & Sadeghi, R. (2017). Effects of Acupuncture on Anxiety in Infertile Women: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, 5(1), 842-848. doi: 10.22038/jmrh.2016.7949.
  2. Dong Y, Cai Y, Zhang Y, et al. The effect of fertility stress on endometrial and subendometrial blood flow among infertile women. Reproduc Biol Endocrinol. 2017;15:15.
  3. Isoyama D, Cordts EB, de Carvalho WD, Matsumura ST, Barbosa CP. Effect of acupuncture on symptoms of anxiety in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: a prospective randomised controlled study. Acupuncture in Medicine. 2012; 30(2):85-88.
  4. Okhowat J, Murtinger M, Schuff M, et al. Massage therapy improves in vitro fertilization outcome in patients undergoing blastocyst transfer in a cryo-cycle. Altern Ther Health Med. 2015;21(2):16–22.
  5. Bhongade MB, Prasad S, Jiloha RC, et al. Effect of psychological stress on fertility hormones and seminal quality in male partners of infertile couples. Andrologia. 2015;47(3):336–42.
  6. Prasad S, Tiwari M, Pandy A, et al. Impact of stress on oocyte quality and reproductive outcome. J Biomed Sci. 2016;23:36.