Updated: Jul 22
Embarking on the journey of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) can be both exciting and overwhelming, but did you know that the ancient practice of acupuncture holds the key to unlocking the full potential of your IVF experience and elevating your chances of a successful outcome? Throughout the whole IVF cycle, the benefits of acupuncture are numerous and far-reaching:
Reduce Stress and Anxiety: Acupuncture can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are common emotions experienced by individuals undergoing fertility treatment, promoting overall well-being during this critical stage.
Enhance Overall Health: Acupuncture focuses on enhancing the overall health and well-being of the individual, as a healthy body and mind can positively influence fertility outcomes.
Improve Hormonal Balance: Acupuncture aims to support hormonal balance during this phase, as hormonal shifts can influence the menstrual cycle and overall fertility health.
Individualized Treatment: Acupuncture treatments are tailored to the specific needs and responses of each individual, taking into account their unique health and fertility factors to optimize the potential benefits of the treatment.
Alleviating Medication Side Effects: Acupuncture helps alleviate side effects associated with fertility medications, such as headaches, hot flashes, and mood swings, enhancing the overall treatment experience
Phase 1 - Acupuncture Before IVF cycle
While research indicates that acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer can significantly improve the success rate of IVF, many acupuncturists and their patients have found that a period of preparatory treatment prior to an IVF cycle can further increase the likelihood of success.
Regulate Menstrual Cycle: Acupuncture aims to regulate the menstrual cycle, ensuring it is regular and balanced, which can be essential for the success of an IVF cycle.
Support Ovulation: Acupuncture helps to support efficient and regular ovulation, ensuring that the ovaries release a mature and healthy egg during the IVF cycle.
Optimize Hormone Levels: Acupuncture seeks to optimize hormone levels, including Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH), to create a favorable hormonal environment for successful fertility treatment.
Enhance Egg Quality: Acupuncturists work to enhance the quality of the eggs by promoting good blood flow to the ovaries and providing nourishment to the developing follicles.
Create an Ideal Implantation Environment: Acupuncture aims to create an optimal environment in the uterus for the embryo to implant successfully, including improving blood flow to the uterine lining.
Lower FSH Levels: Acupuncture can be used to lower FSH levels if they are too high, which may be a requirement for some IVF units to proceed with the treatment.
Phase 2 - Acupuncture During Down-Regulation (Long Protocol) or Before the Period (Short Protocol)
During the down-regulation phase of an IVF cycle, the aims of acupuncture treatment are as follows:
Support Menstrual Regulation: Acupuncture aims to support and regulate the menstrual cycle, especially if it has been affected or delayed due to the down-regulation medication. The goal is to facilitate a smooth and timely period.
Promote Efficient Elimination: Acupuncture focuses on promoting efficient elimination of the old endometrial lining. This helps create a clean slate for the development of a fresh, healthy, and thick lining with optimal blood flow, providing an ideal environment for embryo implantation.
Manage Side Effects: Acupuncture may be used to manage potential side effects of down-regulation medication, such as headaches or hot flushes, to improve overall well-being during this phase of the IVF cycle.
Enhance Blood Circulation: Acupuncture works to enhance blood circulation to the pelvic region, including the uterus, which can promote tissue health and healing, ensuring a receptive environment for embryo implantation.
Prepare for the Next Phase: Acupuncture prepares the body for the next stage of the IVF cycle by optimizing uterine health and overall well-being, creating the best conditions for successful implantation.
Phase 3 - Acupuncture During the Ovarian Stimulation
During the stimulation phase of an IVF cycle, the aims of acupuncture treatment are as follows:
Optimize Womb Lining: Acupuncture focuses on optimizing the quality and function of the womb lining. By promoting adequate thickness and a good blood supply to the endometrium, acupuncture aims to create an ideal environment for embryo implantation.
Support Blood Circulation: Acupuncture works to improve blood circulation to the pelvic region, including the uterus. This helps nourish the developing follicles and promotes a healthy and receptive uterine lining.
Support Follicle Development: While acupuncture does not significantly add to the number of follicles produced, it aims to optimize the quality of the eggs within the developing follicles.
Phase 4 - Acupuncture Before Embryo Transfer
During the stage of embryo transfer in an IVF cycle, the benefits of acupuncture treatment are as follows:
Increased Blood Flow to Womb Lining: Acupuncture helps increase blood flow to the uterine lining, enhancing its receptivity to the transferred embryo, which can potentially improve the chances of successful implantation.
Reduced Uterine Contractions: Acupuncture aims to reduce uterine contractions or spasms that may occur due to the transfer procedure itself. Minimizing uterine contractions can create a more favorable environment for embryo implantation.
Time-Dependent Effectiveness: Research suggests that performing acupuncture treatments as close as possible before and after the embryo transfer is crucial for its effectiveness. Timely treatment may improve the chances of a successful outcome.
Phase 5 - Acupuncture in the Two Weeks Wait and Early Pregnancy
During the "two weeks wait" and beyond, after embryo transfer in an IVF cycle, the benefits of acupuncture treatment are as follows:
Maintaining Balance: Continued acupuncture treatment after a positive pregnancy test can help maintain the body's balance and support a smooth progression of the pregnancy.
Addressing Pregnancy-related Symptoms: Acupuncture can help address common pregnancy-related symptoms such as morning sickness, fatigue, and emotional changes, providing relief and comfort during this phase.
Immune System Support: Acupuncture may help support the immune system during early pregnancy, ensuring a healthy immune response to support the developing embryo.
Promoting a Healthy Pregnancy: Acupuncture aims to create a positive and supportive environment for a healthy pregnancy, with a focus on nurturing both the mother and the developing baby.
Enhancing Fertility: For individuals who may be considering additional IVF cycles or fertility treatments in the future, acupuncture can be part of an ongoing approach to enhance fertility and reproductive health.
The frequency of acupuncture treatments during IVF treatment may vary based on individual needs and responses. A qualified acupuncturist will tailor the treatment plan to address specific concerns and ensure that the body is prepared for the steps steps in the IVF cycle. Regular communication with the acupuncturist and coordination of acupuncture treatment with the IVF protocol are essential for maximizing the potential benefits of acupuncture treatment.