Why you May Need Acupuncture Before and After an IVF Cycle.
Are you considering In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)? Does this make you stressed or anxious? Do you want to increase the chances of a successful procedure? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then it may be wise to consider acupuncture treatment before and after your IVF cycle. Women are increasingly opting to undergo IVF for various medical and personal reasons. Here at Centre of Balance, we understand the emotional, physical, and psychological toll that such a decision may have on a person. Therefore, we have taken the initiative to highlight how we can help address these challenges through acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.
What Happens at the Clinic?
Most acupuncture clinics including Centre of Balance follow a certain protocol (at a specified period of your cycle) to increase the effectiveness and success of IVF. However, before treatment begins, an acupuncturist conducts various diagnostic procedures to understand your symptoms, underlying conditions, and other factors necessary for an individualised approach.
- Before: Prior to the Embryo transfer day, acupuncture treatment primarily aims to calm the patient, restore a balance of qi (body’s energy), regulate hormones necessary for reproduction, and increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Additionally, acupuncture treatment may help an IVF patient feel relaxed and receptive on the big day.
- After: The period after IVF can be tense and even stressful. Waiting for 2 weeks to know the outcome of the procedure is psychologically and emotionally challenging. This is where acupuncture comes in; the treatment helps the IVF patient maintain a calm demeanour and balanced qi.
Your acupuncturist may also prescribe some special Chinese herbs and medicine along with the acupuncture treatment which may improve the results of the IVF. The practitioner may also have diet and lifestyle recommendations to help boost your chances of IVF being successful, in which case it could be a good idea to visit well in advance of the procedure. Now that you have a rough picture of what goes on at the acupuncture clinic, one important question remains: How exactly does acupuncture treatment aim to improve the success rate of IVF?
How May Acupuncture Help?
- Relaxes the patient and relieves stress- According to the 13th Volume of Human Reproduction by Renato Franchin et al. (1998), the rates of pregnancy and implantation may reduce if a woman experiences uterine contractions after embryo transfer. Acupuncture settles the mind and body, relaxing the abdomen and making the patient feel comfortable. Additionally, studies show that implantation of embryos is negatively affected if the level of stress hormones is elevated. This may be remedied by acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, which help to make the patient feel relaxed.
- Improves cytokine levels and T-cell.
- Reduces adrenalin and cortisol levels.
- Increases the levels of serotonin, encephalins, endorphins, and other endogenous opioids.
- Warms the womb- According to ancient Chinese medicine, a ‘cold womb’ is one of the causes of infertility. Therefore, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine warm the womb by encouraging the flow of blood and qi to nourish the embryo.
If you are experiencing any doubts regarding the potential of acupuncture to support IVF treatment, then the scientific studies analysed below may ease your mind.
There are numerous clinical trials and research studies that support the role of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine in improving the outcomes of In Vitro Fertilization. In an attempt to provide a generalised and accurate conclusion, this article will summarise the findings of two meta-analyses that collectively include 41 randomised trials and thousands of patients.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis by Shen C et al. (2015) the authors evaluated 21 randomized studies that included 5,500 patients with the aim of determining the impact of acupuncture treatment during IVF. They concluded that acupuncture significantly improved the outcome of IVF when performed before and after the procedure. Another meta-analysis by Huijuan Cao et al. (2013) sought to investigate the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine in improving IVF. The systematic review included 20 randomised trials of a large number of couples in the UK and China. The results of the study showed that a combination of traditional Chinese medicine and IVF improved the success of IVF.
It’s clear that acupuncture treatment is a worthwhile intervention which may increase the success rate of IVF. For best results, consult an acupuncturist a few weeks before the procedure in order to formulate an effective treatment schedule. Do not hesitate to visit your acupuncture clinic and obtain information regarding specific aspects of the procedure.
Fill in our online questionnaire for free – and save the $135 it would cost you to do this detailed medical history in person with a practitioner. You can request a phone call from a practitioner after they have read your online form, or just book the 30 minute initial exam for $40. Call us on 07 846 7956 to book, or fill in the questionnaire now.
Shen, C., Wu, M., Shu, D., Zhao, X., & Gao, Y. (2015). The role of acupuncture in In Vitro Fertilization: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Gynecologic and obstetric investigation, 79(1), 1-12.
Cao, H., Han, M., Ng, E. H., Wu, X., Flower, A., Lewith, G., & Liu, J. P. (2013). Can Chinese herbal medicine improve outcomes of in vitro fertilization? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One, 8(12), e81650.
Fanchin, R., Righini, C., Olivennes, F., Taylor, S., de Ziegler, D., & Frydman, R. (1998). Uterine contractions at the time of embryo transfer alter pregnancy rates after in-vitro fertilization. Human reproduction (Oxford, England), 13(7), 1968-1974.