Does acupuncture support weight loss? - illustration

Can fertility acupuncture support weight loss?

Weight gain is a complex, multi-factorial issue. Losing excess kilos can be challenging even when your diet is perfect and you get sufficient exercise. It can become close to impossible when facing the pressures of trying to conceive. Some of the less known factors contributing to weight gain include hormonal changes, certain medical conditions like PCOS and insulin resistance, hormonal changes, stress, and poor sleep.

Can fertility acupuncture support weight loss?

Acupuncture improves sleep, reduces stress and anxiety

Have you ever found yourself overeating after a poor night’s sleep? Congratulations. You understand how lack of sleep can make you overeat.

Furthermore, poor sleep disrupts hormones contributing to fat deposition around your vital organs—also known as visceral fat. When you are continuously sleep-deprived, over time, it will undermine your motivation to exercise.

Similarly, stress can also lead to overeating and weight gain. Further, it also disrupts hormones, which can contribute to fat deposition.

Acupuncture is great for stress eaters and insomniacs. It reduces stress and anxiety and improves sleep.  Consequently, a rested mind gives you better control over what and how much you eat. In addition, acupuncture will help heal the harm caused by sleep deprivation.

Acupuncture reduces appetite

Acupuncture may regulate appetite through the brain center that controls satiety.

Additionally, it stimulates the auricular branch of the vagal nerve, raising your serotonin levels. This in turn:

    Increases the tone of the smooth muscle of the stomach suppressing appetite,

  • enhances intestinal motility,
  • helps to control stress, improves mood, and eases depression.

Acupuncture regulates weight controlling hormones

Acupuncture supports weight loss by modulating your hormone levels. Studies have shown that acupuncture increases beta-endorphins. These feel-good hormones optimise how you use energy during fasting or exercise, further promoting weight loss.

In one study overweight women, who came to regular acupuncture for three months, had healthier levels of leptin, hormone associated with weight control.  Additionally, fasting blood glucose and insulin levels all improved.

To sum it up, acupuncture tackles weight gain through various aspects like hormone regulation, sleep, and stress reduction. Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture could be an effective tool in helping control weight. For an effective weight loss plan, we recommend a differentiated course of acupuncture, individualised nutrition advice, exercise regime, thyroid check-up, or referral to a dietitian.

What weight should you be to get pregnant?

You hear it often, but I have to say it again: your weight is a major factor affecting your fertility and pregnancy outcomes.

When you are about to embark on a new pregnancy, your body does an audit. You could compare it to a financial assessment of starting a major construction project. It’s about evaluating the risk as well as available resources.

Your body’s resources are what you don’t use immediately, the storage of glycogen and fat among other nutrients.

When some women don’t have enough body fat, they will struggle to produce healthy levels of hormones for pregnancy. This can get so bad that you will stop ovulating and having periods.

But what happens if your weight is too high?

We may argue that the body’s resources are abundant, but with excess fat you may face other fertility challenges.

Being overweight taxes your body. You may be using your energy for fighting chronic conditions associated with higher weight like inflammation, sleep deprivation, pain, high blood pressure, dysregulated reproduction (HPO) axis. In short, the resources you need to fall pregnant, you use up for managing chronic conditions.

No two overweight women are the same. One will fall pregnant easily and the other will struggle.

One of these women has a healthier diet, controls her weight, and exercises. While the other eats fast food and sits on the couch. It’s like one of them is putting money in the bank each month and the other is drawing down. And even if at a given moment, their account balance may look similar, the risk assessment and prognosis you can do in each situation is desperate.

This is the reason, when considering a fertility diet, the first element we need to discuss is your weight.

Calculate your BMI here.

What does your BMI say about chances to conceive?

If your BMI is

  • below 18.5 you are underweight,
  • between 18.5 and 24.9 is normal, healthy
  • above 25 you are overweight, and
  • Over 30 falls into the obese category.

However, keep in mind that BMI is just an indication. The are weaknesses:

  • Body mass index, it doesn’t show your actual fat mass. Your BMI could be within the normal range, but you could store unhealthy amounts of fat. Or opposite, you can have a high BMI, but a healthy fat mass.
  • Does your body store fat abdominally?  This is also a factor. BMI does not reflect this.

Despite this, most research articles commonly use BMI to describe the relationship between weight and your chances to fall pregnant. For this reason here, we are going to use BMI as a weight indicator. This must be viewed in the context of your general health and lifestyle.

How does your weigt affect fertility: fresh fruit

How does your weight affect fertility?

Body fat, as such, is not bad for us. The key is having a healthy amount of it. Fat acts as energy storage. But more importantly for fertility, it helps to regulate reproductive hormones and ovulation.

Girls at puberty need to reach 17% of body fat to start menstruating. However, 17% of body fat is insufficient to keep the periods regular. For the reproductive axis to run smoothly BMI has to increase and fat has to reach 22% of body weight. 


Being underweight, reduces uterine receptivity, increases time to conception and increases the risk of miscarriage. 

Reduced uterine receptivity

Women make oestrogen in both their fat cells and ovaries. To ovulate and have healthy periods, healthy amounts of oestrogen from both sources are required. That’s why being underweight, or with less than 17% body fat, can compromise ovulation and stop periods altogether. 

As little as a 2% reduction from healthy fat levels can be enough for your cycles to be irregular.

Takes longer to fall pregnant

It takes four times longer to fall pregnant when you are underweight. As discussed, some of the reasons for this may be low levels of hormones, fewer ovulatory cycles, and lower uterine receptivity. 


Very lean women make weaker forms of oestrogen. This, in turn, affects the uterus’ ability to host the embryo. This may be one of the reasons why women with a low BMI are 72% more likely to suffer a miscarriage in the first three months.


Excess weight may lead to compromised ovulation, reduced uterine receptivity, and miscarriage. Furthermore, it may affect the chances of getting pregnant with IVF. Pregnancy complications are also more common. This includes high blood pressure, diabetes, low/high birth weight, and more complicated labours. 

Increased inflammation

Unhealthy amounts of fat, especially around internal organs, may create low-grade inflammation in the body. The biggest danger occurs when fat cells balloon in size and start to ooze inflammatory proteins—known as cytokines—into your bloodstream. Cytokines reach your ovaries and uterus, spreading inflammation. Inflammation can affect ovulation, hormone production, and uterine receptivity, reducing the chances to conceive. 


Excessive body fat may interfere with the mechanism of ovulation. For example, women with a BMI above 27 are three times more likely to have non-ovulatory cycles. Less frequent ovulation equals fewer chances to fall pregnant.


Obesity may cause chronic inflammation. Increased inflammatory markers have been shown to affect ovarian health. In particular, healthy egg development. Obesity can also compromise endometrial receptivity. These could be the reasons why women who are overweight are more likely to miscarry.

Reduced success rate with IVF

Unfortunately, IVF can’t undo the damage caused by excess weight. On average, obese women’s chance of having success with IVF reduces by 20% (live birth rate). And being overweight reduces the chance by 9%. 

High BMI may lower IVF success rates because increased body fat can disregulate hormones and disrupt the health of the endometrium. These changes affect all aspects of fertility from egg quality, fertilisation to implantation and the risk of miscarriage. 

Excess weight will affect pregnancy and the health of future children

Maintaining a healthy weight is equally important during pregnancy. Excess weight during pregnancy may affect your child’s ability to have babies. Additionally, it increases their risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Researchers found that for every kilo of excess weight women had pre-pregnancy, it increased the risk by 4.5% of their child becoming obese.

The health of the mother during pregnancy affects not only the child but even future generations. A good example of this is a study published in 2020

Researchers discovered, that the grandchildren of women who had no excess gestational weight gain were less likely to be overweight or obese in adolescence and when they were adults.

Not to mention that being overweight during pregnancy increases risks for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia.

The good news: overweight women who follow reduced-calorie diets and do exercise are more likely to lose weight, start ovulating, and fall pregnant. Some studies show that weight loss increases the chances of natural conception pre-IVF.