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Can acupuncture increase IVF Success Rates?
Increase your IVF success rates with IVF support through the use of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at our natural fertility clinic in Brisbane (2,3,4).
How could using acupuncture help my IVF treatment?
Several mechanisms have been suggested as to how acupuncture may contribute to increasing your chances of pregnancy through IVF. There has been some mixed research findings (1) in relation to the effect of acupuncture in assisted reproduction – some good results and some mixed/benign results. There are numerous issues with acupuncture research which can interfere with the true effect acupuncture is having – we’re always happy to talk about the research with you over the phone or in person. The need for more large sale trials and research is needed to clarify acupuncture’s exact role, but below are some plausible mechanisms from research to date.
Increase blood flow: Acupuncture has shown itself to be a very helpful adjunct therapy for both IVF and IUI patients by increasing blood flow to the Uterus and surrounding tissues, including the ovaries (1).
Increase Endometrial Lining: A by-product of increasing the blood flow to the uterus and ovaries is that we often see increases in the thickness of the endometrial lining. Thin endometrial lining can be an impediment to successful implantation given that the the lining serves as a fertile bed for the incoming embryo. If the bed is not comfy, then the embryo has little chance of resting peacefully in it.
This can be a frustrating aspect for couples undergoing treatment. The lining is a substantial energy consisting literally of blood. In Chinese medicine, building blood can take time. It is often something which is measured in months rather than days – this is one of the reasons why in an ideal world we work with couples for a period of 3 months prior to any ART treatment. This shouldn’t deter anyone who has just begun their ART treatment, as we routinely see women seeking acupuncture after beginning their IVF program.
Reduce Stress: Not surprisingly, stress levels are elevated during most ART programs, but especially high around time of egg pick and transfer – as well as the two week waiting period after transfer!
We are happy to see research which concludes that acupuncture has a positive effect on perceived stress of women undergoing embryo transfer (5). We use gentle techniques at Ginseng, and aim to have you very relaxed and rested during your treatment.
Poor responders and women above 40 years: The importance of unobstructed energy flow ( and blood flow ) to the reproductive ovaries can’t be overstated. This is where the benefit of some regular acupuncture comes into play. Points on the abdomen along with ‘distal’ points on the hands and feet help to communicate with these organs and deliver fresh qi and blood, in TCM terms.
For Men: There have been studies completed which have clearly demonstrated the positive effect that acupuncture and Chinese medicine have on sperm count, morphology and motility. Chinese medicine has a long history in the use of acupuncture and herbs for men’s health issues, but we are now starting to understand our role in male sub and infertility.
Aside from “Can acupuncture increase IVF success rates’, I also hear “Is it safe to use acupuncture and Chinese Medicine whilst undergoing IVF or IUI treatment”?
As with all forms of therapeutic treatment, there is a risk of an adverse reaction. For us as acupuncturists, these tend to be minor – skin itch at the site of the needle or small bruise occasionally.
If you would like to book your appointment, or to arrange a time to talk over your current situation, please use the form below to make contact and I’ll respond within 24 hours. Alternatively, call me on the clinic number, 3357 3205.
I offer both male and female IVF support as well as natural fertility support through the use of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Please do not hesitate to call if I can help you at any stage of your healing journey. Call us on 3357 3205.
Some more research:
The abstract below indicates the effective use of acupuncture in increasing blood flow to the uterus.
“A review of the medical literature on acupuncture and female fertility published in the journal Fertility and Sterility has shown that acupuncture can help reduce stress, increase blood flow to the reproductive organs and normalise ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
As such, women struggling to get pregnant may want to add acupuncture to their roster of fertility-boosting treatments, according to study author Dr. Raymond Chang of Cornell University. Stress is known to adversely affect ovulation, and therefore it is logical that acupuncture would assist normal ovulation through the release of beta-endorphins. Many previous studies examined the benefits of acupuncture when added to other fertility treatments. Recent reports have shown that women who incorporate acupuncture into their in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment are more likely to become pregnant than those who use IVF alone, and that women who used acupuncture without any other fertility treatments were just as likely to conceive in the same period of time as women who took a fertility drug. (Fertility and Sterility 2002;78:1149-1153). ” ( http://www.jcm.co.uk/research-archive/article/acupuncture-increases-ivf-success-242/ viewed 15.10.11 )
1 McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised Edition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
2 Paulus W et al, Fertil Steril 2002 Vol 77, pg 721-724 Fertility and Sterility
3 Westergaard L et al, Fertil Steril 2006 Vol 85, pg 1341-1346 Fertility and Sterility
4 Cheong YC1, Hung Yu Ng E, Ledger WL. Oct 2008 Acupuncture and Assisted Conception,
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. (4):CD006920. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006920.pub2.
5 Chang, Raymond et al. Fertility and Sterility , Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility, Volume 78 , Issue 6 , 1149 – 1153
6 Grant LE, Cochrane S, AJACM 2014, vol 9 Issue 1, pg 5 Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine