You are currently viewing Fertility surgery and  acupuncture

As part of your road to enhancing your fertility you may have surgery to remove fibroids and endometriosis.  You may do a fresh IVF cycle where eggs are collected from your ovary by numerous surgical microcuts. Your body and mind experience trauma and this will happen even if your surgery goes well.  An incision into the body is a trauma.

Stress and postoperative infections

At a lecture by Dr David Hanscom, who is a spinal surgeon of 30 years experience, he explained it is of paramount importance that the nervous system is calmed before elective surgery.  Dr Hanscom has noted outcomes are more predictable and infections post-operatively are fewer.  States such as stress, anxiety and depression depress the immune system and this means infections can take a hold. Infections post-operatively are a major cause of complications and death. Depression is strongly associated with post-operative pain and is a risk factor for long and incomplete recovery from surgery1

Our personalities and upbringing will determine how we react to such life events. How resilient we are to life’s punches and so whether these events might be held in the body as physical pain and in someway sabotage our attempts to be healthy. Addressing a person’s emotional and psychological wellbeing before having surgery is important.

Acupuncture before surgery

Acupuncture has a useful role prior to surgery to calm the nervous system and boost the body’s own natural painkillers which lessens the need for opioids such as morphine after surgery (morphine can have many negative side-effects). Initial research is suggesting it might have a use for reducing preoperative anxiety, postoperative nausea and vomiting and postoperative pain experiences2. Acupuncture also helps boost the immune system in preparation for the “attack” on the body by the surgeon’s knives. We know acupuncture triggers a number of neuropeptide cascades and indeed lots of other physiological changes in the body (lots we don’t understand). While counselling and self-help techniques, such as journaling/affirmations/meditation and so on, will help people longer term to address psychological, emotional blockages; acupuncture is likely to offer a quicker route to prepare the mind and body for surgery by initiating a beneficial, natural biochemical response and so enhance recovery afterwards.


Dr Hanscom lectured at the SIRPA conference in 2016 Chronic Pain, Royal Society of Medicine

  1. Ghoneim, O’Hara (2016) Depression and postoperative complications: an overview. BMC Surg. 2016 Feb 2;16:5. doi: 10.1186/s12893-016-0120-y.
  2. Chernyak, Sessler (2005) Perioperative acupuncture and related techniques. Anesthesiology;102(5):1031-49; quiz 1077-8