Why use acupuncture to support you when undergoing IVF treatments?
The journey through any ART (assisted reproductive technology) can be a stressful one. Women may choose to use acupuncture throughout their IVF or IUI cycles not only to help stimulate ovarian function and increase/improve blood flow through the uterus(1,2), but to help increase their chances of falling pregnant (2-5).
What does our Acupuncture IVF Support involve?
Regardless of whether you are using ART (assisted reproduction technology) or not, our goal is to regulate menstruation and increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries and to give you the best chance of conception (1-3). We always talk about these things in terms of Yin, Yang, Qi and Blood – you’ll get used to us using these terms! We will use acupuncture, Chinese Medicine and assist with dietary and lifestyle advice.
Pre and Post Embryo transfer:
A leading journal on fertility, reproduction and assisted reproductive technologies Fertility and Sterility, have published two articles (4,5) which have shown positive outcomes for women using acupuncture on the day of Embryo transfer (whether using IVF or ICSI ). The first involved women undergoing acupuncture on the morning before the transfer and then once again very soon after their transfer. The second involves acupuncture following embryo transfer only. Treatments are aimed at increasing blood flow to the uterus, reducing stress and preventing uterine cramping (5,6).
We now know that acupuncture has a positive effect on blood flow to the uterus. This is a huge advantage, especially at time of transfer when what we want is an ample supply of blood to the uterine tissues for the incoming embryo.
The journey through any ART (assisted reproductive technology) can be a stressful one as identified in recent research reviews (7). Acupuncture may be a useful adjunct in reducing stress and anxiety in women undergoing IVF (8).
Acupuncture during IVF treatments:
The frequency of treatments during IVF are most often weekly. This is in line with how treatment protocols are administered in clinical practice in Australia and most other countries for that matter. During this time we’re aiming to keep you as symptom free as possible, as well as maintain healthy blood flow through the reproductive organs.
More on the research: We are aware of the limitations of gold-standard western trials using acupuncture during assisted reproductive technologies. Organising large scale trials is time consuming and hugely expensive, which is why research of this nature can be scarce, and why we will sometimes cite good quality trials that are not necessarily systematic reviews or meta analysis. Whilst a recent paper (7) listing the effectiveness for acupuncture for over 100+ conditions ( these were gold-standard systematic reviews! ) found limited evidence for acupuncture and reproductive technologies, it has still found support amongst local IVF clinics as a valid complementary therapy when undergoing IVF (12).
If you’d like to ask some more questions about how we can help you, or to find an available appointment, just send me a message through this contact form, or read on a little to find out some more. If you’d prefer to talk through some things first, by all means give us a call in the clinic on 3357 3205.
- Magarelli, PC, D Cridennda, M Cohen. Fertil Steril. 2009 Dec;92(6):1870-9 Fertility and Sterility.
- Stener-Victorin E, Humaidan P. Use of acupuncture in female infertility and a summary of recent acupuncture studies related to embryo transfer. Acupunct Med. 2006 Dec;24(4):157-63.
- Manheimer E et al. BMJ 2008;336 pg 545-549 British Medical Journal
- Ming H et al, 2009 Vol 48, Issue 2, Pages 148-151 Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Paulus W et al, Fertil Steril 2002 Vol 77, pg 721-724 Fertility and Sterility
- Westergaard L et al, Fertil Steril 2006 Vol 85, pg 1341-1346 Fertility and Sterility
- McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised Edition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Huang ST, Chen AP. Traditional Chinese medicine and infertility. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Jun;20(3):211-5.
- Eugster A, Vingerhoets AJ. Psychological aspects of in vitro fertilization: a review. Soc Sci Med. 1999 Mar;48(5):575-89.
- Grant LE, Cochrane S, AJACM 2014, vol 9 Issue 1, pg 5 Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine
- Fan Qu et al, Sci Rep Nature, (2014), 4, Article number: 5028 Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing
- City Fertility Centre, Complementary Therapies and IVF http://www.cityfertility.com.au/wpcontent/uploads/2017/04/ MFS05_ComplementaryTherepiesandIVF_0314.pdf-web.pdf viewed 4/7/17
The use of acupuncture has been shown to reduce the pain experienced post IVF - egg retrieval, see the research below. "In this study, 286 women were randomly assigned to receive either electroacupuncture plus para-cervical [...]
The beneficial effect of acupuncture on fertility treatment has once again been highlighted by the results of a major scientific study. "The research found that women undergoing IVF treatment were much more likely to have [...]