Are you considering in vitro fertilization (IVF)? Have you gone through one or more failed IVF cycles? Have you ever wondered what you can do to improve your chances of having a healthy baby? Allow me to share some facts that will be helpful in your endeavor.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a process where eggs and sperm are combined in a lab dish outside of the body and then one or more of the fertilized embryos is transferred back into the woman’s uterus. The IVF protocol overrides your body’s own natural hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian feedback loop. In other words, it sort of muscles your reproductive system into doing something it wouldn’t ordinarily be doing (e.g. producing multiple follicles at once). Acupuncture can improve your chance of success with IVF by as much as 50%.
The Top Five Reasons to Try Acupuncture with IVF
- To increase blood flow and circulation to the reproductive organs. Acupuncture can reduce factors that impede the free flow of blood to the reproductive organs. By improving blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, oxygen and nutrients can boost ovarian function, and endometrial lining thickness, and it may improve egg quality.
- To reduce stress and anxiety. IVF is classified as an artificial reproductive technology (ART). There’s really nothing natural about it, and your body is designed to strive for homeostasis (balance), so when your reproductive system is being manipulated by a slew of exogenous hormones, it disrupts the balance. Acupuncture helps mitigate the side effects of IVF treatment and their impact on the body’s balance. Additionally, the process itself requires multiple doctor’s exams and trips to the lab for blood tests. Don’t forget about the big box of medications that show up on your doorstep. There are pills and shots and decisions galore. Acupuncture is very effective at providing relaxation and lowering the impact of stress on your body. Based on my patients’ feedback, I think this is one of the most important benefits.
- To regulate the immune system. If your body is dealing with immune issues (autoimmune disease, inflammation, chronic infections, etc.), this can create a barrier to healthy follicle production and embryo implantation. Your body’s #1 priority is your wellbeing and survival, so if it is preoccupied with an imbalanced immune system, it decreases your odds of IVF success.
- To improve implantation odds. Studies have shown that acupuncture in conjunction with IVF can improve your odds of success by 40-60%! There are multiple studies with varying protocols that produced positive results when acupuncture is part of IVF. One thing to keep in mind when looking at studies (not that you’d do that for fun) is that it is difficult to design an RCT (randomized controlled trial) when doing acupuncture. The foundation of Chinese medicine says that each of us is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits all approach. Yet, even when studies have been designed with a single standardized protocol, acupuncture proves to be beneficial.
- It can save you money! An average of three full IVF cycles is the most clinically effective number for women under the age of 40. At an average cost of around $15,000 per cycle, plus time away from work to attend appointments, not to mention the emotional and mental toll it can take, increasing your chances with acupuncture may save you thousands.
What’s the best way to choose an acupuncturist for fertility?
- Are they properly licensed? Different states have different licensure requirements, but you can check to make certain a practitioner is properly certified by checking at NCCAOM.org.
- Are they trained and experienced in acupuncture with IVF/IUI? This is important! Look for someone with a proven track record who speaks the lingo of your fertility doctor and understands the protocols.
- Do you click with them? You want to feel confident and comfortable in your choice of acupuncturist. Do they answer your questions fully? Do you feel heard? Do you look forward to your appointments? Different people like different characteristics in their practitioners. Find what works for you.
IVF treatment isn’t the easiest process in the world, but with acupuncture your road can be just a little bit smoother. There are no guarantees when it comes to getting pregnant and having a baby, but you can boost your chances.
If you are considering IVF, I encourage you to give acupuncture a try. It may be just what you need to start or grow your family. I have almost 20 years of clinical experience and specialized training. I was an Inaugural Fellow of the American Board of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, and I have helped hundreds of families grow.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact my office. I would be happy to help!
Anderson, B. J., Haimovici, F., Ginsburg, E. S., Schust, D. J., & Wayne, P. M. (2007). In vitro fertilization and acupuncture: clinical efficacy and mechanistic basis. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 13(3), 38-49.
Balk, J., Catov, J., Horn, B., Gecsi, K., & Wakim, A. (2010). The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: a pilot study. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 16(3), 154-157.
Guven, P. G., Cayir, Y., & Borekci, B. (2020). Effectiveness of acupuncture on pregnancy success rates for women undergoing in vitro fertilization: A randomized controlled trial. Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 59(2), 282-286.
Ho M, Huang LC, Chang YY, Chen HY, Chang WC, Yang TC, Tsai HD. Electroacupuncture reduces uterine artery blood flow impedance in infertile women. Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Jun;48(2):148-51.
Paulus, W. E., Zhang, M., Strehler, E., El-Danasouri, I., & Sterzik, K. (2002). Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertility and sterility, 77(4), 721-724.
Stener-Victorin E, Waldenström U, Andersson SA, Wikland M. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Human Reproduction. 1996 Jun;11(6):1314-7.
Westergaard, L. G., Mao, Q., Krogslund, M., Sandrini, S., Lenz, S., & Grinsted, J. (2006). Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial. Fertility and sterility, 85(5), 1341-1346.
Zhong, Y., Zeng, F., Liu, W., Ma, J., Guan, Y., & Song, Y. (2019). Acupuncture in improving endometrial receptivity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 61.