Acupuncture and IVF
Acupuncture and IVF explored by Elaine Otrofanowei of Eco Therapies in Leigh on Sea Essex
Assisted reproductive techniques can be highly technical procedures and it is easy to feel that you are the object of a scientific process, and have little influence on that process or outcome.
However, there is a lot you can do physically and mentally to minimise side effects and enhance treatment, and help your body to recover afterwards.
Many studies show that acupuncture at certain key points during your assisted cycle can help enhance the chances of conception (see the research listed below). The number of treatments can vary with each individual and their response to the assisted reproductive techniques, however, the following gives an overview of when and how many treatments we recommend:
Pre IVF treatment
It is advisable to prepare your body at least 3 months before you start your IVF cycle with the help of acupuncture, eating healthy, taking pre-conception supplements and getting plenty of rest and relaxation.
During ‘down regulation’ treatment can help support you if you are experiencing side effects from the medication such as headaches, breast tenderness, mood swings or irritability. If down-regulation has not occurred when it should, acupuncture can help encourage the process. We recommend 2 treatments during this stage of the cycle.
During ‘stimulation’, we recommend at least 2 treatments. The aim is to support egg growth and establish strong uterine lining.
After egg collection 1 treatment, is recommended to relieve any lower abdominal discomfort or cramps.
Before embryo transfer, we recommend 1 treatment as close as possible to the time of the transfer. The aim of the treatment is to provide improved blood profusion and more energy to the uterus, and to calm the mind.
After embryo transfer, we recommend 1 treatment as soon as possible after the transfer. The treatment is aimed at enhancing endometrial receptivity as well as general relaxation.
In the days following embryo transfer, we recommend treatment to help calm the mind and support implantation
It takes two!
Remember it takes two to make a baby and if there is a male factor issue involved, acupuncture treatment along with diet, supplements and lifestyle changes can help to improve sperm count, motility and morphology ( see male fertility)
- regulating fertility hormones – stress and other factors can disrupt the function of the hypothalamic pituitary-ovarian axis (HPOA). Acupuncture promotes the release of beta-endorphin in the brain, which regulates gonadatrophin releasing hormone from the hypothalamus, follicle stimulating hormone from the pituitary gland, and oestrogen and progesterone levels from the ovary (Anderson 2007).
- increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs (Ho 2009, Anderson 2007), which can improve the thickness of the endometrial lining, so increasing the chances of embryo implantation.
- increasing egg production (Jin 2009) and improving oocyte quality (Chen 2009), which could increase the chance of fertilisation.
- enhancing luteal function (Huang 2009)
- regulating follicle stimulation hormone-receptor expression (Jin 2009).
- normalising cortisol and prolactin levels on IVF medication days (Magarelli 2008); reducing stress (Anderson 2007)
- promoting embryo implantation (Liu 2008).
Information available: acupuncture.org.uk