Acupuncture has long been known for its health benefits. For women who are suffering from infertility and seeking the IVF process, studies have found to help optimize natural fertility for the best possible results.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is based off of Chinese medicine. It uses a type of energy known as qi that flows through pathways known as meridians within the body. Each of these meridian pathways are associated with one or more organs. These organs contain acupuncture points, tiny needles, that can be used to help maintain the Yin and Yang balance in the body. Acupuncture can also be used to help correct imbalances in energy flow that may occur over time.
While needles are being placed into the body, many patients report that they do not feel anything except for maybe a slight twitch. Patients will then rest with the needles in place for 15-60 minutes each session. It is recommended to do 12- 20 sessions for optimal results.
IVF with Acupuncture Studies
A recent trial using acupuncture to support an IVF procedure has found that acupuncture can more than double a woman’s chance of having a baby. The trial was done on 140 women, 71 of whom were receiving acupuncture and IVF, while 69 received only IVF treatment. Out of the 71 women getting both acupuncture and IVF 21 became pregnant. This is compared to the 6 out of 69 women who became pregnant from the IVF only group.
Likewise, a paper titled Fertility and Sterility published a 42.5 % pregnancy rate in those that have done acupuncture and IVF versus a 26.3 % success rate in those that just did IVF.
The American Pregnancy Association also endorses the use of acupuncture when trying to overcome infertility, as it helps to increase blood flow to the endometrium and boosts ovarian and follicular function.
How Does it Help with IVF?
Acupuncture is a way of “fine-tuning” the body before IVF. It will help to gently increase blood flow to the follicles and uterus lining, as well as, to help calm any anxiety. It can also help to stop contractions post-transfer and help to aid implantation.
Acupuncture has been shown to help support the baby and balance a woman’s body during early pregnancy. This will be especially helpful after an IVF cycle when many emotions and anxiety are running high. Acupuncture can help you to relax and relieve some of the anxiety you may be feeling during early pregnancy. It can also help the body to balance hormones and function better.
What the Process Looks Like
There will be a stimulation phase of acupuncture before the egg retrieval to help blood flow and to encourage the follicles to grow evenly in both ovaries. This also helps the endometrium to prepare the correct thickness for implantation. Acupuncture the day before egg retrieval is suggested to help with relaxation before the process. It is important to get a lot of rest and to eat a healthy diet filled with protein and blood nourishing foods during this time.
Before the egg retrieval many women find that they suffer from quite a few uncomfortable symptoms and side effects due to the medication. Acupuncture can help to reduce constipation, discomfort, and bloating during this time to help the body better prepare for transfer.
Then in between egg collection and transfer acupuncture will be used to help with blood flow, to encourage receptivity, and to relieve bloating. It is important to eat warming foods during this time to help keep the body warm and relaxed. Many women chose to continue acupuncture after the transfer day to help keep the mind calm and relaxed during the two-week wait.
Acupuncture in Early Pregnancy
Studies have shown that acupuncture can help make early pregnancy easier on the body and for mom. It can help to relieve a lot of the early pregnancy symptoms that make many women uncomfortable. For women that have gone through IVF this is especially the case as you will have just gone through so much physically with the medication required for egg retrieval. Your body will be adjusting from the medication to know sustaining a new human life. With the new medication that you will be on to help baby grow and to have a healthy pregnancy, acupuncture can help to make the process easier.