Enhancing Fertility with Chinese Medicine: How Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Can Increase Your Chances of Success With IVF & IUI
Many people have heard that acupuncture is helpful in assisting couples achieve a pregnancy with IVF. A recent German study found that using acupuncture with IVF achieved a 42% clinical pregnancy rate in the group that did receive acupuncture, compared to 26% in the control group that did not receive acupuncture. This study involved giving acupuncture for just one day, before and after the transfer of the embryos. What is less known and very exciting is that couples can increase the probability of a treatment being a success by starting their treatment with Chinese medicine even earlier than the day of the transfer. In fact, some acupuncturists have seen this rate increase to 60% with the support of acupuncture and Chinese herbs in the months prior to an IVF procedure. Moreover, acupuncture and herbal medicine can help reduce the risk of miscarriage by supporting a woman during the early months of pregnancy.
While I will work to support you at any phase of your ART/IVF procedure, I highly recommend that men and women begin treatment with acupuncture at least 2-3 months prior to the IVF cycle. I can't emphasize enough how important this time is to the health and well-being of a couple. These months provide time to help regulate hormones and prepare the ovaries/sperm and uterus for the various procedures. It is also a time to prepare mentally and emotionally and acupuncture is very useful in helping to alleviate stress and anxiety.
After the 2-3 months of preparatory treatment, the following schedule of treatment is used during an IUI/ IVF cycle. I have outlined for you the goal and frequency of each treatment:
- Starting Oral Contraceptive Pills:
During this time acupuncture and herbs are used to support the qi and blood of the patient, strengthen the energy, calm the spirit and relax the patient. Treatment is usually 1-2x/week and varies with each person.
- Stimulation of Ovaries:
At this time Chinese medicine is used to stimulate the ovaries to help produce more follicles, improve egg quality and thicken the lining of the uterus to prepare for the transfer of embryos. It also helps to reduce any side-effects of the drugs such as nausea, headaches, bloating and cramping. At the same time, Chinese medicine nourishes qi and blood and alleviates stress and worry. Treatment is 1-2x/week depending on the presentation of symptoms and then 24-28 hours before egg retrieval.
- Before IUI/IVF Transfer:
At this stage, Chinese medicine helps to slightly dilate the cervix in order to more easily transfer the embryo into the uterus. It also increases blood flow to the uterus which thickens the uterine lining and helps implantation of the embryos. It helps to calm the patient and keep the uterus relaxed. Treatment is 24-48 hours before transfer.
- After IUI/IVF Transfer:
At this stage, Chinese medicine is utilized to support blood circulation in the uterus, prevent uterine contractions, maintain implantation of the embtyo and nourish embryo growth. Treatment is 24-48 hours after transfer.
No matter the procedure or stage of treatment, I will work to support you according to your individual needs. Appointments are available early mornings and some weekends to accommodate your visits to the hospital for screenings. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.