Acupuncture and Fertility
Chinese medicine has a long and established history of improving fertility. Whether you are preparing to conceive, actively trying to conceive or embarking on IVF, acupuncture has a lot to offer. At Restore, the acupuncture team follow protocols supported by research to assist their patients to improve their fertility with acupuncture. The most common presentations seen at the clinic are as follows.
Acupuncture can enhance good healthy bodily function, and therefore is a wonderful way to help to optimise your chances of falling pregnancy naturally. This is important in both the male and female partners, as you are both equally important to the fertility process. Women and men who are good candidates for fertility acupuncture are those who have a functional, rather than a structural reason for infertility. For example, structural infertility would be damaged fallopian tubes or a blockage in the sperm ducts. However, if your infertility is functional, for example like irregular ovulation, then you should consider trying acupuncture. In men it can be performed to assist with optimal sperm production and function, and in women it can help to adjust the endocrine function in order to stimulate ovulation as well as balance your hormones.
In other words acupuncture is often used to help regulate your menstrual cycle back on track, improve overall circulation and blood flow to your uterus and ovaries. Importantly acupuncture can improve your ability to manage the stress and anxiety that often accompanies infertility. The amount of treatment needed really depends on your individual situation, however, treatment is most successful when started earlier and timed around important events such as ovulation.
Women undergoing fertility treatment are far more likely to successfully give birth if they also have acupuncture, a major scientific study has concluded. The research found that women suffering with fertility problems who underwent the ancient Chinese treatment increased their chance of having a baby from one in five to one in three. Researchers led by Ying Cheong, from the reproductive medicine unit at the University of Southampton and the city’s Princess Anne hospital, concluded that ‘acupuncture around the time of embryo transfer achieves a higher live birth rate of 35 per cent compared with 22 per cent without active acupuncture’. Embryo transfer is when an embryo that has been fertilised in the laboratory is implanted into a woman’s womb.
The IVF Process
Research shows acupuncture can be an effective, low intensity procedure that may increase a woman’s resilience during assisted conception. Women who have acupuncture often report improvements in physical and mental health, including better sleep and improvements in mood and self-confidence. Some IVF clinics, such as Genea (formerly Sydney IVF) offer acupuncture clinics in-house as they have seen the wonderful effects of this safe and gentle form of complementary therapy. Studies show that acupuncture can increase the chances that assisted reproductive technologies will result in a live birth by 60% or more. Our acupuncturists are qualified, registered and experienced in helping to support your fertility treatment, improve your health and wellbeing, and maximise your chance of taking home a healthy baby.
Setting the internal environment for the body to make a baby is very important. Clinical trials show that acupuncture increases blood supply to uterus and ovaries and regulate fertility hormones which may contribute to follicle development and increased implantation. Acupuncture can be used to help any side effects you might experience and reduce anxiety. Reduced fatigue, moodiness, abdomen swelling and discomfort and other side effects are reported by many women using acupuncture during their IVF cycle. In addition women report greater relaxation and control of anxiety.
(2) Before and After Egg Collection
Acupuncture is performed in the days after egg collection, to reduce any local tissue trauma or bleeding. It also helps to prepare a calm environment for the arrival of an embryo in 3 or 5 days time.
(3) Before/After Embryo transfer
According to research, acupuncture performed at the right stage, can have significant benefit. The research found that the chance of the embryo implanting successfully, resulting in pregnancy, increased significantly if a woman underwent acupuncture around the same time as the transfer. Most clinical trials demonstrated a significantly increased chance of pregnancy (30%) after the administration of 2 acupuncture treatments, one before and one after the embryo transfer. Acupuncture treatment in this stage helps increase blood supply to uterus and ovaries and regulate fertility hormones which may contribute to follicle development and increased implantation. Clinical trials were based on patients where the treatment was conducted within a few hours before and after transfer. This is why Restore is open 6 days per week, and takes Sunday appointments by prior arrangement for our patients having out of hours transfers.
Acupuncture research shows increase in sperm count and motility, and a decrease in abnormal formation after a course of acupuncture. The pressure to produce a sperm sample on the day of egg collection can be significant enough to cause a problem, acupuncture however reduces anxiety and can increase blood flow to the genital area to help produce a good sample. Acupuncture offers a simple and easy method of improving men’s fertility. Sperm count can be raised, and motility increased. The treatment is recommended just prior to collection of the sperm.
PCOS and Endometriosis
Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing the pain and inflammation of PCOS and endometriosis. If you have PCOS or Endometriosis and are trying to conceive naturally or planning to do IVF, you can benefit from doing a course of acupuncture over 3 to 4 months to improve ovary function and egg quality. If you have PCOS and are trying to conceive naturally or planning to do IVF, you can benefit from doing a course of acupuncture over 3 to 4 months to improve ovary function and egg quality. For those PCOS patients who do IVF, certain acupuncture protocols during the stimulation phase and after embryo transfer will reduce the risk of hyperstimulation.
Managing Stress and Anxiety
Improvements in physical and mental health including better sleep and improvements in mood and self-confidence are all very important when trying to conceive. -While stress has no impact on the actual meeting of the sperm and egg, it can impact on the individual and also relationships. Acupuncture is an excellent modality to assist in reducing stress – a key issue for many couples struggling with infertility.