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Acupuncture And IVF: A Comprehensive Guide

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture is finding modern applications as a valuable complementary therapy during IVF treatment. 

Considering using acupuncture to support your IVF journey?

In this guide, we will explore the potential benefits of acupuncture, when to start treatments, and answer the key question: can acupuncture increase IVF success?

What Can Acupuncture Do For IVF

Acupuncture can aid those undergoing IVF by supporting stress reduction, hormone regulation, blood flow optimisation, and potentially even follicle development.

Why Is Acupuncture Good For IVF

Acupuncture activates the central nervous system, promoting deep relaxation and improving blood flow – both essential elements of a healthy reproductive system. 

It offers benefits for fertility by assisting in regulating hormones, managing the stress that often accompanies infertility treatments, and improving the menstrual cycle to support ovulation.  

For those undergoing IVF,  acupuncture’s focus on reducing stress and anxiety can offer valuable support with these known factors that can potentially impact fertility outcomes.

How Can Acupuncture Help With IVF

  • Reduces stress: In vitro fertilisation (IVF) and the processes involved can be highly stressful. Acupuncture offers profound stress-reduction effects, potentially benefiting your IVF treatment results.
  • Improve blood flow: Studies suggest acupuncture may improve blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. This optimises endometrial receptivity, which is a crucial component in successful embryo implantation.
  • Regulate hormones: Acupuncture can support individuals experiencing hormonal imbalances often associated with infertility.

Does Acupuncture Increase IVF Success

Research indicates acupuncture alongside IVF may boost live birth rates. Additionally, a specific treatment protocol focused on acupuncture sessions before and after embryo transfer has demonstrated improved implantation rates. 

Seminal research, such as the Paulus et al. (2002) study, demonstrated the positive correlation between acupuncture around embryo transfer and significantly increased pregnancy rates. 

While ongoing research continues, a promising body of evidence, like Smith et al. (2019), shows growing support for acupuncture as a beneficial complement to IVF.

Can Acupuncture Increase Follicle Count?

Currently, there isn’t strong direct evidence showing acupuncture significantly boosts follicle count. 

However, acupuncture’s effect on promoting overall hormonal balance and improved ovarian function could indirectly enhance conditions for follicle development.

When To Start Acupuncture For IVF

Generally, people come to see us at two phases; they are about to start IVF, or they have started their IVF treatment.

How Soon Before IVF Should I Start Acupuncture

To reap the full benefits of acupuncture alongside IVF, experts recommend starting treatments ideally three months before your IVF cycle begins.  

This allows adequate time for acupuncture to positively influence your reproductive system, potentially improving outcomes.

When To Do Acupuncture During IVF

  • Before IVF: Weekly acupuncture sessions in the months leading up to IVF promote  overall health and well-being, optimising reproductive function.
  • During down-regulation: In the down-regulation phase of IVF, acupuncture supports your body in responding to medications and preparing for upcoming procedures.
  • Stimulation Phase:  When ovarian stimulation begins, acupuncture works to enhance ovarian response and support the quality of the endometrial lining for healthy development.
  • Embryo Transfer: A crucial point in the IVF process, acupuncture sessions immediately before and after embryo transfer are believed to aid implantation. Improving blood flow to the uterus and promoting a relaxed, receptive environment are key goals here.
  • Two-week wait: Although research shows less conclusive evidence during the period between transfer and your pregnancy test,  acupuncture remains a powerful tool for reducing anxiety and managing emotions while you wait.

What Are The Best Acupuncture Points For IVF

While a qualified acupuncturist tailors treatment to your individual needs, here are some of the most commonly used points in IVF support:

  • CV4 & CV6 (Guanyuan & Qihai):  These points focus on supporting vital energy, regulating hormones, and improving blood flow.
  • SP6 (Sanyinjiao): Known for enhancing blood flow to the reproductive organs and aiding in stress reduction.
  • ST36 (Zusanli): A widely used point with positive effects on general health, improving energy, and bolstering immunity.
  • KID3 (Taixi): In Traditional Chinese Medicine, kidney function is closely tied to reproductive health, and this point offers support.

Important considerations:

  • Finding a qualified acupuncturist specialising in fertility treatment is essential.  You will find such practitioners at Weald Chiropractic & Wellness. 
  • It’s crucial to inform your IVF doctor that you’re incorporating acupuncture. This type of coordinated care offers the best potential for a successful outcome.

To Conclude, Our Guide On Acupuncture And IVF

Acupuncture provides various potential benefits for those undergoing IVF treatments. It aids in reducing stress, regulating hormones, improving blood flow to the reproductive organs, and may even positively impact implantation rates. 

While research is ongoing, there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting acupuncture can be a valuable complementary therapy during IVF. For optimal results, starting acupuncture treatments approximately three months before your IVF cycle and incorporating sessions throughout the process is recommended. 

As always, feel free to reach out to our Acupuncturists Lavina, Sian and Sarah, who will be happy to help answer any other questions you have on Acupuncture and fertility.

Lavina Cullen
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