Women undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) stand to gain great benefit by including regular acupuncture treatment during their IUI and IVF cycles.
Research suggests that acupuncture can help significantly improve pregnancy rates when incorporated before and after embryo transfer. A pioneering study published in Fertility & Sterility (Paulus, et al., 2002) showed that women receiving acupuncture before and after embryo transfer had a 42.5 % pregnancy success rate as compared to the control group without acupuncture of 26.3%. These findings are profound and have been encouraging to both eastern and western integrative modalities of fertility care.
Additional studies show that integrating Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (Chinese herbal medicine, dietary, and lifestyle recommendations) as an adjunct to IVF treatment significantly increases the number of live birth rates as compared to no acupuncture or acupuncture just pre and post transfer.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Treatment may commence at any time, but 2-3 months before IVF or IUI cycles is the ideal. This is not always possible as fertility plans can often change direction rather quickly. It is important to know that beginning support at any time is better than none at all. Together we will form a plan for the best course of action to boost your overall health and wellness and supplement your doctor’s care.
Acupuncture focuses on increasing blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, facilitating extra nourishment and improving the overall environment. This lends to potentially enhanced egg development and health, and improved circulation in the uterine cavity.
With the great amount of emotional strain during the process of IVF or IUI, acupuncture also serves to reduce stress and anxiety levels, and improve sleep, all of which may influence a more positive outcome.
We discuss nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, and stress management to create a comprehensive plan of support for the cycle that carries well into pregnancy.
While undergoing an IUI cycle:
Weekly acupuncture treatment is recommended along with one timed specifically within a day or two of the insemination. Depending on your protocol and whether medication is a component, we may discuss along with your doctor whether Chinese herbs are right for you during the process.
A more frequent regiment of acupuncture is encouraged in order to facilitate the stimulation of the ovaries and support follicle growth. Sessions are scheduled twice weekly during the injections phase with one timed for the day before egg retrieval. Pre and post transfer treatments are then timed within 24 hours on either side of the transfer itself. For those doing a frozen embryo transfer on different month from retrieval, or using donor eggs, weekly acupuncture is encouraged to prepare the uterine lining for implantation.
In all cases, treatment is continued in the lead up time to the pregnancy test, and during early pregnancy for additional support.