IVF & IUI Supports

Acupuncture for In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Numerous studies have proven that acupuncture improves the success rates of assisted reproduction therapies (IVF, IVM and IUI) by increasing blood flow to the uterus and strengthening the ovarian-pituitary connection. It helps to optimize implantation and pregnancy when proper point-selections and techniques are used. Integrating acupuncture into IVF protocols provides a balanced treatment.

A well-known German study conducted in 2002, at the Department of Reproductive Medicine of the Christian-Lauritzen-Institut in Ulm, showed a significant increase in pregnancy rates among women who underwent acupuncture treatment pre and post embryo-transfer compared to those that did not (42.5% versus 26.3%)[6].

A study done in Denmark in 2006, based on receiving acupuncture before and after embryo-transfer, demonstrated an increase in pregnancy rates to over 60% for women undergoing IVF [7].

According to Dr. Lifang Liang’s research in 2003 in America, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help to improve the success rate of IVF in the following ways [8]:

  1. Improve the functioning of the ovaries to produce better quality eggs
  2. Regulate hormones to produce a greater number of follicles
  3. Increase blood flow to the uterus and increase the thickness of the uterine lining
  4. Relax the patient and decrease stress
  5. Prevent the uterus from contracting
  6. Lessen the side effects of drugs used in IVF
  7. Strengthen the immune system
  8. Improve the quality of semen to create better quality and quantity of embryos
  9. Decrease the chance of miscarriage

My clinical protocols for IVF patients:

For acupuncture to be truly effective, a weekly treatment should be undertaken by the couple for at least three to six months prior to IVF cycle. For couples who have already undergone several prior unsuccessful IUIs or IVF cycles, up to nine months of treatment is recommended.

I accommodate the special needs of IUI, IVF and IVM cycles with a method combining Traditional acupuncture, Auricular acupuncture and Electro-Stimulation acupuncture, in order to:

  • Enhance the functioning of the ovaries
  • Improve the menstrual cycle
  • Optimize the number of follicles
  • Increase endometrial receptivity
  • Maximize the quality of the sperm and the egg
  • Regulate hormone levels
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Lessen the side effects of drugs
  • Aid the change in diet and lifestyle

Recommended protocol for IVF cycle

Preparation for IVF Cycle: three to six months prior to IVF cycle

Individual treatment plans will be outlined during the initial consultation. A combination of supporting holistic treatments will be recommended such as:

  • Weekly acupuncture treatments
  • Monthly therapeutic massages
  • Dietary changes and exercise
  • Chinese herbs

This protocol is required to:

  • Regulate hormones (estrogen and progesterone levels)
  • Improve the functioning of the ovaries in order to enhance the production of follicles and the quality of the egg
  • Increase the blood flow to the uterus
  • Improve the quality and quantity of sperm
  • Reduce stress

Individual protocol will be determined during consultation according to the IVF calendar of the patient.

For example:

  • 8 weeks prior to egg retrieval
  • 6 weeks prior to egg retrieval
  • 4 weeks prior to egg retrieval
  • 3 weeks prior to egg retrieval until embryo transfer
  • 2 weeks prior to egg retrieval until embryo transfer

Standard protocol during period of egg retrieval to embryo transfer:

  • 1 treatment the day before egg retrieval
  • 1 treatment pre embryo-transfer
  • 1 treatment post embryo-transfer
  • 1 treatment 2-3 days after transfer
  • 1 treatment 1 week after transfer

Note: Protocol varies according to the quality of the embryo

The two treatments (pre and post embryo-transfer) will enhance success rates:

  • Pre embryo-transfer acupuncture: Relaxes the uterus, increases the blood flow, and promotes overall relaxation.
  • Post embryo-transfer acupuncture: Encourages implantation and regulates hormones.

Supplementary treatments:

After egg retrieval:

Acupuncture on the afternoon of the egg retrieval helps to relieve bloating, pain, and the potential side effects of ovarian stimulation.

Acupuncture for IVF

References
[6]: W.E. Paulus, M. Zhang, E. Strehler, Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertility and sterility, Vol. 77, No. 4, April 2002
[7]: Westergaard LG, et.al. Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial. Fertility and Sterility, Apr 4 2006
[8]: Lifang Liang, Acupuncture & IVF, increase IVF success by 40-60%, August 2003

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