What is Acupuncture and Assisted Conception?
• Acupuncture is being increasingly used to assist and to improve the outcome of IVF and other assisted fertility treatments.
• Although acupuncture is a traditional therapy which has been around for thousands of years, this is an excellent example of how it can be adapted to new situations and demonstrates how closely and successfully Western and Eastern medicine can work together in an integrated approach to treatment.
Success rates for IVF treatments vary from about 20-30% depending on the clinic.
Recent, well published research however suggested that women who received acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer significantly increased their success rates.
The first study to present evidence suggesting acupuncture can improve the success of IVF was by Paulus and colleagues in 2002 involving 160 women.
The clinical pregnancy rate in the non-acupuncture group was 26.3% compared to 42.5% in the acupuncture group.
More recently, the British Medical Journal cites research carried out in the US showing that ‘Acupuncture may help increase IVF success by 65%’.
This research involved 1366 women undergoing IVF, it demonstrated that women who also had Acupuncture at the same time had improved chances of pregnancy by 65%.
What is the Treatment?
Women are encouraged to begin their acupuncture for IVF as early as possible so that the treatment can take root before the IVF cycle begins. The aim being to support the women and to achieve optimum healthy balance both physically and emotionally prior to the IVF cycle.
Acupuncture during down regulation is used to prepare the body and calm the mind and to reduce the unwanted side effects of the medication, such as headaches, hot flushes and emotional disturbances.
It can help to bring on the period and reduce stagnation in the pelvis ready for the base-line scan.
During stimulation acupuncture is used to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries helping to improve the thickness of the endometrium (lining).
And on the day of embryo transfer two acupuncture treatments are given – immediately before and straight after embryo transfer.