Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine | IVF

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a commonly used supportive treatment while undergoing Western fertility treatments such as IVF and IUI.  At Balanced Life Health Care in Ferntree Gully, we will work in with your Western Fertility protocols to prepare for, during and after your assisted fertility treatments. Our practitioner Dr. Lauren Lanzoni (D.TCM) is experienced and well versed in the area of fertility and IVF support and your sessions will be timed to specifically benefit your wellbeing, and your cycle. During IVF or IUI procedures we are aiming to achieve the following:

 

  • Reduce stress associated with Assisted Reproductive Technologies such as IVF and IUI treatments, and therefore reduces the negative effects that stress an have on the hormones related to reproduction.
  • Strengthen and support your body so that your western fertility treatments are more effective, while reducing the risk of overstimulation in women with POCS (4).
  • Positively affect your hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which plays a major role in fertility, especially with regard to enhancing the development and release of mature and healthy eggs.
  • Increase blood flow to your uterus, thus thickening the uterine lining, which improves the chances of an ovum implanting.
  • Normalise the systems that regulate your ovulation, [including, in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)].
  • Regulate your menstrual cycle.
  • Support luteal phase by helping your body produce more natural progesterone.

 

Some reading this may be aware that assisted fertility procedures can be disheartening at times, but also give hope to couples who otherwise might not be able to bear children. With the help of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine we aim to unlock your fertility and increase your chances of taking home a baby. Studies suggest that Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have a positive effect on women undergoing IVF (2) including improving clinical pregnancy rates (3) , however it is important to note that some earlier clinical research had unclear outcomes (4) so more research in this area is needed.

 

IVF Acupuncture protocols at Balanced Life Health Care

 

Although IVF protocols will differ from client to client and are aimed at specifically benefit your wellbeing, and each of your IVF cycles this is an example of the expected care at Balanced Life Health Care you will receive.

BEFORE A STIMULATION CYCLE OR ASSISTED CYCLE

Schedule: 1 – 2 treatments weekly

 

Before you get started or resume on your assisted fertility journey you may benefit from Acupuncture as it can regulate your hormones, may contribute to follicle development and increase implantation. The window of opportunity to gain the maximum benefit of Acupuncture (& Chinese Herbal Medicine) is approximately three months. This follows the secondary, preantral, and astral stages of follicular development. Studies have even suggested that after 8 Acupuncture sessions a marked improvement in blood flow to the uterus, and improved endometrial lining thickness (3).

 

DURING A STIMULATION CYCLE / OR PRE – TRANSFER

Schedule: 2 treatments for 4 weeks (optimal) plus treatment on day of transfer

 

Acupuncture treatments during this stage are to increase arterial blood flow to the uterus, nourish and support the endometrium and ovarian cell growth. Acupuncture can also be used to manage any side effects you might experience, including reduce the risk of overstimulation in women with PCOS (4), and reduce anxiety. The treatment protocols used are based on clinical experience. You may see reduced fatigue, moodiness, abdominal swelling and discomfort. Acupuncture during this stage when combined with Acupuncture on the day of transfer has shown increased pregnancy rates and ongoing pregnancy rates in women undergoing IVF (4 /5).

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Chinese Herbal Medicine before and during an IVF cycle

 

Prior to a stimulation cycle begins we commonly prescribe Chinese Herbal Medicine alongside supplements and vitamins that will be aimed at enhancing your fertility to get the best out of your cycle. Previous systematic reviews and meta-analysis from 2012 form the basis that Chinese Herbal Medicine may have the potential to improve IVF (7) and natural fertility (8) outcomes including;

  • Significantly improved ongoing pregnancy rates
  • Significantly improved implantation rates
  • Reduction of miscarriage rates (7)

 

The most common herbs that has been clinically studied in use during IVF process are;

Radix rehmanniae preparata  – Shu Di Huang (in 16 trials)

Radix angelicae sinensis – Dang gui (in 15 trials)

Radix paeoniae alba  – Bai Shao (in 12 trials)

 

Although these are some of the main herbs used in research trials they are not the only herbs that may be prescribed, as Chinese Herbal Medicine places large emphasis on individual diagnosis and treatment, so you personal needs are taken into account.In most cases Chinese Herbal Medicine is stopped before stimulation cycle is started to reduce the chances of negative impacts on your cycle.

 

References

  1. Effects of Acupuncture on pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis; Zheng CH et al.; Fertiity & Sterility; 2012 Vol. 97, Issue 3, 599-611
  2.  A pilot study evaluating the combination of acupuncture with sildenafil on endometrial thickness; Yu W et. Al; Presented at the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society Annual Conference 200
  3. Qian Y, Xia XR, Ochin H, Huang C, Gao C, Gao L, et al. Therapeutic effect of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2016 Dec 19.
  4. The Acupuncture evidence project – A comparative literature review; John McDonald and Stephen Janz https://www.acupuncture.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/28-NOV-The-Acupuncture-Evidence-Project_Mcdonald-and-Janz_-REISSUED_28_Nov.pdf
  5. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterus arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture; Stener-Victorian E, et al.; Human Reproduction 1996: 11:1314-131
  6. Shen C, Wu M, Shu D, Zhao X, Gao Y. The role of acupuncture in in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2015;79(1):1-12.
  7. Huijuan Cao Et Al; Can Chinese Herbal Medicine Improve Outcomes of In Vitro Fertilization? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3858252/
  8. Efficacy of Traditional CHM in the Management of Female Infertility: A Systematic Review. K Ried, K Stuart  [First published 15.11.2011] Complementary Therapies in Medicine Vol 19 issue 6 Dec. 2011