Fertility, IVF, ICSI and PregnancyAcupuncture can play an important role in your journey towards starting a family
Fertility, IVF, ICSI and Pregnancy
Acupuncture can play an important role in your journey towards starting a family, including increasing fertility in both males and females, supporting IVF and ICSI treatments and during pregnancy.
Many couples now use acupuncture to help support them on their fertility journey.
The British Acupuncture Council have reviewed research on acupuncture and infertility and suggest that acupuncture may work by:
- Regulating fertility hormones – stress and other factors can disrupt the function of the hypothalamic pituitary-ovarian axis (HPOA). Acupuncture promotes the release of beta-endorphin in the brain, which regulates gonadotrophin releasing hormone from the hypothalamus, follicle stimulating hormone from the pituitary gland, and oestrogen and progesterone levels from the ovary.
- Increasing egg production and improving oocyte quality, which could increase the chance of fertilisation.
- Increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, which can improve the thickness of the endometrial lining, so increasing the chances of embryo implantation.
- Enhancing luteal function.
- Regulating follicle stimulation hormone-receptor expression.
- Normalising cortisol and prolactin levels on IVF medication days.
- Reducing stress.
- Promoting embryo implantation.
Louise offers treatment to help increase the chances of success for couples undergoing an IVF/ICSI/IUI cycle.
IVF & ICSI
IVF can be a highly stressful experience, particularly if the couple have already experienced a failed round.
Some of the potential benefits of using acupuncture during IVF include:
Alleviates the side effects of the medical treatments and improves response to hormonal stimulation.
Helps to reduce the stress and tension faced by patients going through the different procedures.
Improve blood flow to the pelvic organs improving chances for successful implantation.
If you have undergone a failed round of IVF or you are about to embark on your first round, the following is recommend:
3 months before start of IVF
Ideally treatment will start three months before you start your round of IVF. Here I will do a fertility review, make a TCM diagnosis and plan a course of treatment in the lead up to the start of IVF. In some cases it can help increase the chances of conception before starting IVF.
Weekly sessions to encourage the thinning of the endometrial lining and to help reduce side effects of the drugs.
Stimming/Up Cycle/Egg Collection
Weekly sessions to support follicle growth and improve circulation and to relax the body for egg collection.
On the day of transfer two sessions of acupuncture are recommended:
Pre-transfer to improve blood flow to the uterus, relax the cervix and prepare the body to receive embryos.
Post-transfer to encourage circulation, relax the uterus and aid implantation.
Two week wait
An optional session of acupuncture can be used in this period to support implantation and relax the body and mind.
As with IVF, we recommend beginning treatment three months before the planned date of the IUI round. Here we will do a fertility review, make a TCM diagnosis and plan a course of treatment in the lead up to the day of insemination. Acupuncture is then recommended 6-8 days post insemination.
Suggested schedule of treatment during pregnancy
During the first trimester we recommend weekly or fortnightly sessions of acupuncture, depending on the patient history. Acupuncture in the first 12 weeks can be used to help prevent miscarriage, reduce feelings of fatigue and nausea and help to reduce anxiety and worry.
After the 12 week scan acupuncture can then be reduced to monthly sessions.
In the final weeks of pregnancy a series of treatments are offered to prepare the body for childbirth and help build energy reserves to prepare the mother-to-be for the post-natal period.
Induction Acupuncture is often recommended as a safe and natural way to establish labour.