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 practitioners are 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 no matter when you start.
Many health practitioners may recommend acupuncture as an adjunct treatment that may assist with IVF treatment. There is continuing research about how acupuncture can assist with the effectiveness of IVF treatment and you should consult your treating practitioner/s about how acupuncture and natural medicine may be able to help you.
Your experience at our Ferntree Gully clinic
The practitioners at Balanced Life Health Care firmly believe in an integrative approach combining Eastern treatment with modern Western Science. 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 IVF cycle starts
Schedule: 1 – 2 treatments weekly
Many of our clients at Balanced Life Health Care come in before starting or resuming the IVF process. From an acupuncturist perspective this gives us valuable time to work on underlying health issues, and prepare the body, and mind for a stimulation cycle or transfer. We consider 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).
We also encourage male partners to also work on sperm health. To find out more visit our Male Fertility Page.
During an IVF cycle & before a 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).
Acupuncture and IVF | The research
As the research currently stands it is considered unclear if Acupuncture can assist with the IVF process. Many of the current studies do not reflect the usage of Acupuncture clinically in private practise rather focus on either Acupuncture before oocyte retrieval or a combination of before / after embryo transfer, instead of regular Acupuncture sessions during the entire process. Here is a review of the current research as quoted in The Acupuncture evidence project (10);
- Qian 2015 (RR of 30 RCT’s & MA): Acupuncture improve clinical pregnancy rates in women undergoing IVF. Optimal positive effects were seen when Acupuncture was used during controlled ovarian hyper stimulation (11)
- Manheimer 2013 (SR & MA of 16 RCT): Insufficient evidence (12)
- Jo 2017 (SR of 4 RCT’s & MA): Acupuncture may increase the clinical pregnancy rate and ongoing pregnancy rates and decrease ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome in women with PCOS undergoing IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (13)
- Cheong 2013 (Cochrane SR of 20 RTC’s): No evidence that Acupuncture improves live birth or pregnancy rates in ART regardless of whether performed around the time of oocyte retrieval or embryo transfer (14)
- Shen 2015 (SR & MA): Acupuncture ineffective when used only on the day of oocyte retrieval but effective when used at follicle phase and 25 mins before and after embryo transfer (15).
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.
Our clinic is supportive of all family going through IVF including LGBTI friendly and Single Parents