Can acupuncture help with IVF?
It’s no secret that infertility is on the rise. Women often delay parenthood to pursue higher education, advance their career and attain financial security. Because of this, as their age increases, as does their use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to become pregnant.
Acupuncture and IVF
When someone is on the IVF journey, they often use acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment as it has been shown to help with IVF success. Acupuncture is helpful in a couple of ways as it:
- Promotes and increases blood flow to your ovaries and uterus
- Causes the release of neurotransmitters to your brain which increases ovulation, menstrual regularity and overall fertility
- Reduces stress and anxiety associated with IVF
- Decreases chances of miscarriage
- Decreases side effects of medications
In fresh, non-donor cycles, studies show that using acupuncture was associated with more live births and fewer biochemical pregnancies (compared to IVF alone). In fresh donor cycles, adding acupuncture was associated with more live births.
In the previous study, they use more than just a defined set of acupuncture points. Treatment may also include herbs, dietary and lifestyle recommendations, as well as vitamins or minerals. This serves as a reminder that individualized medicine is important, and can result in the effects that you want (aka. a live birth).
When should you start acupuncture?
Unfortunately, having acupuncture done before and after your embryo transfer only isn’t good enough. Yes, it helps to reduce stress (which is incredibly important, because IVF is stressful), but it’s not sufficient to improve birth outcomes.
If you can, it’s best to begin weekly acupuncture treatments at least 3 cycles before you begin IVF as this increases your chance of live birth. Definitely consider starting when you are in the down regulation phase (ie. taking lupron or birth control).
(Unsurprisingly) a Naturopathic Doctor can help you as you tackle IVF! Not only can we help you with acupuncture, but we also take the time to go over your diet, lifestyle habits, and any herbs and vitamins that you might be taking.
Prior, Eugenie et al. “Fertility Facts, Figures And Future Plans: An Online Survey Of University Students”. Human Fertility, 2018, pp. 1-8. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/14647273.2018.1482569.
Hullender Rubin, Lee E. et al. “Impact Of Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine On In-Vitro Fertilization Outcomes”. Reproductive Biomedicine Online, vol 30, no. 6, 2015, pp. 602-612. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.rbmo.2015.02.005.
Hullender Rubin, Lee E et al. “Acupuncture And In Vitro Fertilisation Research: Current And Future Directions”. Acupuncture In Medicine, vol 36, no. 2, 2018, pp. 117-122. BMJ, doi:10.1136/acupmed-2016-011352.