• Dr Agnes N Ryu

Metabolic Health & Fertility

  • Tel. 020 8241 7361

Acupuncture support for your IVF programme

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The use of acupuncture as an adjunct to IVF treatment has gained momentum after the publication of a systematic review by Manheimer and colleagues.

We provide support to couples having fertility treatment using specialist acupuncture protocols that have been shown in clinical trials to improve IVF outcomes.

As well as helping you prepare for IVF by calibrating the body’s stress response and brain-ovary connection, there is mounting evidence that integrating acupuncture into your IVF cycle may offer you a greater chance of success.

Preparing for IVF treatment

In order to obtain the greatest benefits, we recommend planning ahead and starting treatment at least 3 months before your IVF cycle is due to begin. Oogenesis and spermatogenesis cycles are approximately this long and it is desirable to begin treatment at the start of these cycles. Acupuncture treatment over this period of time optimizes the signalling system in the body and realigns the HPO (Hypothalamus-pituitary-ovary) axis, the invisible network of hormonal relationships governing our reproductive status.

Importance of Appropriate Dosages

Research indicates that the effectiveness of acupuncture may be dose-dependent, that is a sufficient number of acupuncture treatments are required over an adequate period of time.  The number of acupuncture treatments given before the start of the IVF process is an important factor in determining the likelihood of success. As a guideline, we recommend 10-12 visits spanning two to three months before embryo transfer. More treatment might be required depending on your condition/constitutions and previous/present response to IVF.

 

PCOS with high LH

We recommend that those patients with PCOS with high LH levels and those with an increased chance of developing OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation) or having had OHSS previously, schedule additional treatments whilst undergoing controlled ovarian stimulation.

Acupuncture support during IVF

Acupuncture treatment ameliorates the stress of hormonal fluctuation and primes the body to respond to hormonal signals correctly.

In the down-regulation phase of IVF, the aim of the treatment is to alleviate any side effects of the medication such as hot flushes, headaches and mood swings and to assist in the thinning of the uterine lining.

During the up-regulation phase, the focus is on stimulating the blood supply to the ovaries and uterus to aid both follicle growth and the thickening of the endometrial lining. The treatment frequency depends on the type of assisted conception protocol and your response to it.

Acupuncture at embryo transfer

Clinical studies have shown that acupuncture at the time of transfer can significantly increase the chance of success with implantation and full-term pregnancy. Treatment is given before and after embryo transfer.

Post-transfer

Treatment is given 3-6 days after embryo transfer to support implantation and maintain hormonal signal and healthy pelvic blood flow during luteal phase. Following a positive pregnancy test, we recommend continuing acupuncture for the first few weeks of pregnancy, while many patients choose to receive treatment until 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Treatment plans

Below are the basic recommended treatment plans.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

– Prior to IVF (three months if possible) until stimulation medications begin – weekly

– during stimulation medications – twice a week

– Before transfer (0-3 days) – one treatment

– After transfer (0-3 days) – one treatment

– 5-7 days after transfer – one treatment

– Through the first trimester – one treatment every 1-2 weeks

 

Timed intercourse / Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

-prior to IUI /ovulation (three months if possible) – weekly

-before IUI /ovulation (0-3 days) – one treatment

-after IUI /ovulation (0-3 days) – one treatment

– 5-7 days after IUI /ovulation – one treatment

– through the first trimester – one treatment every 1-2 weeks

 

If IVF treatment is due to start in under three months, there is still much that can be done.

If you are interested in a Pre- and Post- Transfer Treatment only, please call 020 8241 7361 to schedule these appointments.

 

References:

The effects of acupuncture on pregnancy outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis (2019)

A review of the evidence base acupuncture for IVF or ICSI Systematic reviews and meta-analyses (2019)

Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis