Acupuncture Treatments for IVF cycle
Here's a disclaimer. Everyone is unique and Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM) is based upon the tenet of uniqueness. That said, the most common
question we get at Pulling Down the Moon is about a “typical”
treatment plan. So, with the caveat that your situation is unique and
your practitioner will tailor treatment to suit your needs, here’s
a good solid overview of what a typical fertility acupuncture treatment
plan looks like.
In your acupuncturist’s ideal world, starting acupuncture treatments
at least three months prior to an IVF cycle would provide an optimal preparatory
period. During this prep period we will focus generally on your overall
health (adjusting lifestyle and dietary practices that lead to imbalance)
and specifically on the maturation of the egg.
In the prep period we recommend acupuncture treatments once or twice a
week, depending on the amount of time you have before you start your ART
cycle. E.g. If you allow yourself about three months before starting IVF,
acupuncture treatments once a week will be sufficient until IVF stimulation
begins. If you are starting during the birth control phase, about 3-4
weeks prior to IVF stimulation, twice a week until the stimulation is optimal.
Once IVF stimulation begins, you should have at least three to four acupuncture
treatments between the first you start you FSH (Gonal-F, Follistim, etc)
injections and egg retrieval, based upon your progress. If your response
to the stimulation is too fast or too slow, or if you are developing too
many or too few follicles, you may benefit from more frequent acupuncture
treatments. In rare cases, people may benefit most from daily treatment.
After the egg retrieval it recommended that you have an acupuncture treatment
with in a day or two to minimize the bloating, distention, and cramps
that can come with egg retrieval. The retrieval is an invasive procedure
and acupuncture is very helpful to speed recovery and prepare the uterus
On or around the day of embryo transfer, research suggests that two treatments,
one before and one after the embryo transfer significantly increase pregnancy
rates. We also suggest treatment at least once during the two week wait
period to help calm anxiety and promote implantation.
Hopefully at this point you will have a positive pregnancy test. In this
case, we recommend acupuncture once a week until the end of the first
trimester. If there are any symptoms associated with pregnancy such as
morning sickness, bleeding, or pain, you may need to be seen more frequently.
If your IVF cycle is using a donor egg we recommend one acupuncture treatment
per week until embryo transfer with the goal of preparing the uterus for
implantation. Acupuncture before/after transfer and follow-up treatment
is the same as that described above.
Acupuncture Treatments during IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) Cycle
The treatment plan for IUI is similar to that of the IVF cycle, including
the preparation period and treatment during stimulation (whether it’s
natural, clomid or FSH)
You should have one acupuncture treatment before or after IUI and follow-up
treatment as described above.
What’s Good for the Gander: Male preparation
Regardless of the cause of infertility, the science of TCM would recommend
that the male partner be treated as well.
It takes about ninety days for sperm to reach maturity. Males with no known
pathology should be treated on a weekly basis until sperm is collected
for use, preferably beginning at least three months prior to the planned cycle.
For males with known issues, we suggest they start acupuncture treatment
as early as possible. Research has shown improvements in all sperm parameters
(count, motility, and morphology).
If possible, the male partner should try to have an acupuncture treatment
a day before sperm donation.
Beth Heller, MS
Pulling Down the Moon, Inc.