Acupuncture for fertility is extremely powerful. I’ve been an acupuncturist for over 11 years now and I’m a huge believer in its benefits for fertility and IVF. I Think for a lot of women though there can be an awful lot of confusing advice and it can be hard to make any sense of it or what to believe.
However, I have some good news for you…..Numerous studies and recent large study from Helsinki in 2016 has shown the acupuncture can, in fact, more than double the success rate of IVF.
So how does acupuncture work?
The best form of acupuncture and the gold standard is Chinese Medicine. It involves the insertion of fine needles into certain powerful points on the body. Each treatment is individualised and tailored to the specific needs of each woman as fertility is such a broad topic.
One of the biggest and often questions i am asked by women is how often and for how long they should have acupuncture before they start their IVF cycles and whether it can influence egg quality in order to achieve a ‘better’ outcome.
I like to enbolden women to have treatment once a week from at least 2-3 months prior to the start of IVF medication. The reason for this is that follicular growth lasts around 375 days but only during the last 90 days of development will follicles have their own blood supply bringing oxygen, hormones and nutrients to, and waste and secretory products from, the follicle. In other words, follicles will become sensitive and responsive to stimuli coming from the ‘external’ environment.
I am positive there are many women who are trying to get pregnant either naturally or through IVF who have been told by their doctors that their eggs are not healthy or are too old, especially if they have been trying for a long time to conceive without success or have had several miscarriages or implantation failures. It is true that the health of eggs will influence whether fertilization will occur and if it will result in a healthy pregnancy.
With the abouve in mind egg quality is defined by the chromosomal abnormality of the egg. It is well accepted that the aging process and its impact on egg quality are irreversible. However certain negative influences can be avoided and/or improved that are proven to compromise egg health.
These negative factors include:
- toxic overload
- an imbalanced hormonal system
- lack of or too much exercise
- compromised absorption and utilization of nutrients
- lack of sleep
- sluggish blood flow to the pelvic organs
- stress etc.
These negative factors can all be tackled effectively when coming to see me. One of the biggest factors in all the above is the lymphatic system which I will also access. As its responsible for getting rid of inflammation around the body and preventing toxic overload which is hugely important as your body cannot conceive if is toxic. Other modalities that are highly effective for treatment that can run in conjunction with IVF is herbal medicine. Particularly if a woman is experiencing very and heavy periods with clots or very light periods.
Three studies into acupuncture
Blood flow to the pelvic organs can be greatly improved with acupuncture. In a study, published in 1998, researchers measured the pulsatile index (PI) of the endometrial artery and found that high PI (>3) which would indicate compromised blood flow to the pelvic organs, can be lowered with the administration of electro acupuncture.
A study investigating the optimal number of acupuncture treatments for the best IVF outcomes found that the clients receiving the maximum benefit from IVF were those clients who received more than 8 acupuncture treatments before embryo transfer.
In a recently published study it was concluded that women who had at least 12 acupuncture sessions added to their IVF cycles resulted in higher pregnancy rates and fewer biochemical pregnancies. The study however wasn’t randomized and participants weren’t selected with the same characteristics which might have influenced the results but the women in the ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine’ group, were had higher pregnancy rates compared to those who did not have acupuncture as an addition to their IVF cycles
In view of these findings, I recommend to start acupuncture at least 2-3 months prior to IVF. This fits well with my clinical experience that women starting Acupuncture a few month before their IVF commences have better outcomes. I believe that optimizing fertility with acupuncture is not a quick fix. It is a process for the body to adjust and repair in order for it to function as optimally as possible indirectly influencing fertility in a positive way.
Assessments on the lymphatic system are important for overall reproductive health, Dietary requirements are important as well as the consideration of pharmaceutical grade herbal medicine.
Lastly, In my years of experince, i have observed during my practice that some women fall pregnant naturally while they prepare for IVF! Which obviously is an added bonus! and also makes you wonder how much pressure women put on themselves 🙂
I offer Free assessments on any health condition especially fertility. Clinics are located in Chester, Sandbach & St Asaph. Call 0800 468 1008 and book now.
Matt Owner of Mill Acupuncture