Acupuncture improves maternal tolerance of the developing fetus, and has been shown to be a therapeutic treatment option for threatened miscarriage.

Here is a wonderful miscarriage support website to help not only couples who have experienced this loss, but also help their friends and family understand.

Clinical trials have shown that regular monitoring and reassurance reduces miscarriage rates. In addition, this same study demonstrated that regular treatment with acupuncture to reduce anxiety not only offered important and reassuring support during these first few weeks of pregnancy.  Acupuncture’s known effects on stress are a possible mechanism by which miscarriage rates could be reduced. It is possible that stress in very early pregnancy may cause over activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis leading to reduced progesterone levels and that regular acupuncture would assist in progesterone levels staying higher.

Whilst the most common cause for any single miscarriage or unsuccessful IVF cycle is a random genetic abnormality in the embryo which increases with age, the rationale for investigation is either to confirm or to exclude the presence of an underlying treatable cause for pregnancy loss. This is particularly important as couples who lose 3 or more pregnancies, at any gestation, tend to lose genetically normal pregnancies. Miscarriage is therefore not always due to ‘bad luck’ alone.

Blood tests can be performed to investigate genetic, hormonal, blood clotting and immune causes of miscarriage. In addition, an ultrasound scan is performed to determine any structural abnormalities of the uterus that may be associated with miscarriage and an infection screen performed if indicated. After investigation a plan of management for the next pregnancy is made.

A large study at a frequent miscarriage clinic in England gave 50% of the woman reassurance and sent them home. The other 50% received acupuncture once a week for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and other relaxation techniques.  The acupuncture group went on to have an 80% ongoing pregnancy compared to 50% in the control group.


The application of certain acupuncture points such as ST36 and SP6 have been shown to have a beneficial effect that  can support women’s pregnancy and help prevent miscarriage.

ST36 and SP6 enhance VEGF (1) (vascular endothelial growth factor). VEGF is necessary for a receptive endometrium and placenta. It is produced by cells that stimulate the formation of new blood vessels, and is part of the system that restores the oxygen supply to tissues when blood circulation is inadequate.(2).

ST36 and SP6 also improve a poor receptive state of the endometrium by promoting endometrial secretion of LIF and LI-12 c cells (3) to improve blastocyst implantation.

ST36 and DU20 can increase TH2 signaling cells (4), benefiting women with a TH1 bias, which can exacerbated by IVF’s hormonal manipulations.(5) This bias can be a cause of repeated recurrent failed IVF treatment.

ST36 and LI11 activates the P13K pathway (6) which helps growth promotion and cell survival.(7)

GB30 can increase CRH release (8) which improves maternal tolerance and increases blastocyst implantation.  A defective uterine CRH/CRH-R1 system during early pregnancy may be implicated in recurrent miscarriage, abnormal placental attachment, and pre-eclampsia.(9)