Suffolk practitioner Ben Hymas explains why he thinks the technique works.

Ipswich Star: You don't need to get undressed for most acupuncture treatments Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoYou don't need to get undressed for most acupuncture treatments Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto (Image: yunava1)

Natalie Portman, Beyonce, Amal Clooney, Mariah Carey…and now Meghan Markle. What do all these women have in common besides stardom? Well, if reports are to believed, each of them has at some point used acupuncture in their fertility journey. The Duchess of Sussex, imminently due to give birth to her first child with husband Prince Harry, is said to have used the ancient technique before and during her pregnancy.

But is it a load of old hooey quite literally pinning couples’ hopes on a pipedream? Or is there something to be said for this, one of the oldest holistic treatments in practise today?

Studies both for and against its efficacy have been published, with a notable review by Eric Manheimer in the British Medical Journal, based on seven English studies, finding genuine acupuncture increased a woman’s chance of pregnancy by 65%.

Ben Hymas, owner and practitioner of Hadleigh Acuwellness, now based at Kersey Mill, has recently branched out into fertility acupuncture, and says some private insurance companies are now including the alternative treatment in their plans. He believes it can enhance chances of becoming pregnant and hopes he can help many couples in Suffolk achieve their dreams of parenthood.

“The latest published research says there’s an increase in conception rates when you add in acupuncture,” Ben explains.

How on earth is it supposed to work though?

“So,” says Ben, “the hormone system in the body is massively affected by stress, and IVF, ICSI or IUI plus not being able to conceive is highly stressful and can impact on fertility rates. Acupuncture works for fertility in different ways. We use it to reduce the impact of stress on the body. If the client is having fertility treatment we meet them three to six months before they start to improve the menstrual cycle and iron out any issues.

“Then when they go through their procedures we do acupuncture at specific times like egg transfer day and four days after that. There’s evidence that chances of implanting are increased if we do acupuncture on those specific days. We then switch from regulating the menstrual cycle to using points that increase bloodflow to the uterus and regulate stress hormones. Those things are seeming to have a big affect.”

Treatments are, says Ben, pretty painless. The needles are thinner than a hair (0.11mm to 0.25mm). Once relaxed in the treatment room, the needles are inserted at certain points around your body while you remain fully clothed, and a warm lamp is placed over you while you simply lay back and relax.

The needles remain in for around 35 minutes depending on the person being treated, then you leave and get on with your day.

Ben already has many clients receiving treatment for fertility at his clinic and says he hopes it will be a growing specialism of his practice.

“The thing I love about this job is it can help people who are in a bad place with pain or anxiety, but I can also help couples grow their family. It’s exciting really!”

Do you think acupuncture helped you get pregnant? Write to us.