When is the best time to do Acupuncture with IVF?
Can Acupuncture actually help with IVF success rates? If so, when is the best time to do Acupuncture with IVF?
Maybe you’ve done IVF for a couple of cycles and it hasn’t been successful yet.
Maybe this is your first cycle.
Or maybe you’re considering IVF soon but you’re thinking of doing Acupuncture as some preparation work.
So when do you start acupuncture??
The short answer is - you can start whenever you’d like to.
Acupuncture can support your body’s natural processes with or without IVF and it can be used to complement your IVF work in all parts of the cycle.
How exactly does Acupuncture help you and complement the IVF process?
One of the best things about Acupuncture, is it works to reduce your stress hormones, leaving you feeling relaxed long after you’ve finished the treatment. By decreasing your stress responses (sympathetic state) you inversly increase the body’s natural functions including ovulation and fertility (parasympathetic state).
Acupuncture is thought to assist fertility is by affecting the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovary axis by releasing B-endorphins and by improving pelvic blood flow to the ovaries and uterus.
Acupuncture may also assist with side effects from fertility medication such as anxiety, hot flushes or difficulty sleeping.
Acupuncture can be used during a down regulation cycle (on the pill to shut off your hormones before starting a stimulation cycle). Acupuncture points are specifically chosen to complement the medication and not excite your hormones at this time. Acupuncture in this part of the cycle works to relax and rebalance you, at the same time, it’s getting your body ready for the next phase.
If you’re mid IVF cycle, having an Acupuncture session before an egg retrieval is great as it relaxes you as well your muscles and tendons in your pelvis by improving pelvic blood flow.
These studies here, here and here for women with PCOS have shown improved IVF success rates when combined with Acupuncture just before and just after an embryo transfer.
‘Holding conception’ points are then used after transfer and during pregnancy.
Though Acupuncture can have amazing effects - doing 2-3 sessions is NOT as effective as 12 weeks whole system Acupuncture
The best results so far have been doing Whole System Acupuncture along side IVF.
This means choosing Acupuncture points for you specifically and doing 12 sessions, not just 2- 3 sessions.
While more research is needed as this is not a systematic review, the results of this 2015 study by LE Hullender Rubin et al of 1069 women comparing IVF only, IVF + day of transfer Acupuncture or IVF + 12 sessions of Acupuncture showed higher birth rates (actual babies!) and lower miscarriage rates (biochemical preg/spontaneous abortions) in the ‘Whole System Acupuncture’ group.
A 2016 Randomised Control Trial by L. Zhou et al of women who had low ovarian reserve showed improvements in estrodiol (estrogen) measurements, number of oocyes (eggs) retrievied and higher clinical pregnancy rates after doing weekly Acupuncture for two menstrual cycles before undergoing IVF, compared with IVF only.
Acupuncture is a beautiful way to relax and rebalance your body either before, during or after IVF cycles.
Improved IVF success rates have been shown with just a couple of treatments.
However, doing regular Acupuncture sessions at least 3 months before starting IVF or when taking a break from the active cycles to let your body recouperate, has shown the greatest results.
Every woman and her cycle is different, if you would like to find out how we would address your unique situation, please contact us directly.