At House of Fertility and Healing we work with a broad range of women & couples at various stages on their fertility journey. We endeavor to provide professional and evidence-based support based on the best of our clinical experience. Please feel free to contact us with any queries not satisfied below.
Acupuncture helps reduce stress, imparting greater emotional balance and well-being during this challenging time – to help improve your chances. Lower perceived stress at the time of embryo transfer may play a role in an improved pregnancy rate.
One of the earlier prominent pieces of IVF acupuncture research was by Wolfgang Paulus (et al) in 2002. The results show that clinical pregnancies were documented n 34 out of 80 patients in the acupuncture group, whereas the pregnancy rate was only 21 out of 80 patients in the control group. The protocols used in this research are still very much in common use today.
Although earlier systematic reviews found that evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture used to support IVF or other assisted reproductive technology was considered “unclear” by scientific community, a more recent systematic review by Qian et al found that “Based on an analysis of the studies, acupuncture improves the CPR (clinical pregnancy rate) among women undergoing IVF”.
Another piece of research in 2015 came to the (rather clumsily worded) conclusion that “(our) study showed that acupuncture did not significantly improve the IVF clinical pregnancy rate when performed only at the time of ET (embryo transfer), while (we) found pooled benefit of acupuncture for IVF when performed at follicle phase and 25 min before and after ET, as well as 30 min after ET and implantation phase.”
Women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) may be interested in this piece of research which concludes: “Acupuncture may increase the CPR (clinical pregnancy rate) and OPR (ongoing pregnancy rate) and decrease the risk of OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation) in women with PCOS undergoing IVF or ICSI.”
Prior to Starting Your IVF Cycle
Some women choose to work with us prior to beginning an IVF cycle. These treatments are at least in part, aimed at regulating the menstrual cycle. Chinese medicine gynecologists have taught us throughout history (and still do today) that a regular non-problematic 28 day menstrual cycle with a regular mid-cycle ovulation indicates hormonal balance and a greater chance of healthy ovarian function.
Depending upon your individual circumstances, routinely we might address issues such as period pain, issues such as pain associated with Endometriosis and irregular ovulation. We might assist tweaking your diet and supporting your digestive system, fundamental to overall energy and health. Acupuncture has a well deserved reputation for reducing stress & symptoms of anxiety, stress considered to be a potential factor among couples who have failed to conceive.
Eggs ripening inside follicles need good blood supply so that nutrients can reach them. These factors enable them to uptake hormonal signals and provide robust energy to the growing embryo. It has been discovered that eggs produced by follicles with abundant blood supply, thus oxygen, are more likely to fertilize. We also know that acupuncture/electro-acupuncture can increase blood flow to the ovaries.
Although of course we are unable to magically transform older eggs into younger ones and we must work within the confines of your DNA. But we aim to do what we can to improve the environment surrounding your ovaries and eggs and also their internal environment by helping to enhance mitochondrial activity and ATP production at a cellular level. We may prescribe herbal formulas to this end. These herbs have also been shown to strengthen antioxidant defenses at the cellular level.
During the Stimulation Phase
We often administer acupuncture once or twice a week throughout this phase. Research indicates a pooled benefit of acupuncture for IVF when performed during follicle (stimulation) phase, before & after embryo transfer, as well as during the implantation phase.
On the Day of Embryo Transfer
At House of Fertility & Healing we practice acupuncture protocols that have demonstrated some improvement in pregnancy rates in clinical trials. This protocol involves two treatments on transfer day, one prior and one after transfer.
Acupuncture performed before and after embryo transfer improves pregnancy rates
Youran D et al Fertil Steril 2008 Vol. 90, Suppl 1, pg S240
Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial
Westergaard L et al, Fertil Steril 2006 Vol 85, pg 1341-1346
Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy
Paulus W et al, Fertil Steril 2002 Vol 77, pg 721-724
The impact of acupuncture on in vitro fertilization outcome
Domar A et al Fertil Steril 2009 Vol 91 Issue 3 pg 723-6
A randomized, controlled, double-blind, cross-over study evaluating acupuncture as an adjunct to IVF
Quintero R et al, Fertil Steril 2004 Vol 81 Suppl 3, pg S11-12
Acupuncture & IVF poor responders: a cure?
Magarelli P,Cridennda D, Fertil Steril,2004;81 Suppl 3 S20
Impact of acupuncture before and after embryo transfer on the outcome of in vitro fertilization cycles: A prospective single blind randomized study
Benson M. R. et al, Fertil Steril 2006 Vol 86, Issue 3, pg S135
Treatment after egg collection?
Should you be experiencing any discomfort as a result of your collection, an acupuncture treatment that afternoon or the next day may help to ease bleeding or localized tissue damage. We want your body feeling strong and resilient in preparation for receiving your embryo.
Acupuncture During “The Wait” After Transfer
Once again, acupuncture during this period helps keep you on an even keel – stress down, energy up!
Other acupuncture/IVF related research which may interest you
Influence of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilisation when embryo implantation has failed: a prospective randomised controlled clinical trial
di Villahermosa DIM, dos Santos LG, Nogueira MB, et al
Effect of acupuncture on assisted reproduction treatment outcomes Acupuncture in Medicine
Madaschi C, Braga DPAF, Figueira RDCS, et al
The Role of Acupuncture in Assisted Reproductive Technology
Cui Hong Zheng, Ming Min Zhang, Guang Ying Huang, and Wei Wang
The Role Of Acupuncture In Patients At Unfavourable Reproductive Prognosis In IVF: A Prospective Randomised Study
M. Arnoldi; D. Diaferia; M.G. Corbucci; L. De Lauretis