IVF and IUI Support
There has been significant research done on the benefits of acupuncture in supporting women through assisted reproductive technologies (ART). According to the Paulus study, a 25 minute treatment before and after an embryo transfer increases the chance of a successful pregnancy. Recently, some of this research was conducted right here in Kirkland at The Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences (NCRS; now Seattle Reproductive Medicine). Lee Hullender-Rubin along with Dr. Mike Opsahl reviewed the pregnancy rates of patients who underwent embryo transfers at NCRS from 2005-2008. They found that patients who received acupuncture had higher ongoing pregnancy rates than those who did not. In fact, acupuncture significantly increased the odds of pregnancy, up to 2.23 times in fresh-non-donor IVF patients!
I have had the opportunity to spend the last three years working at The Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences (now SRM) in Kirkland providing acupuncture for their patients who are undergoing retrievals, IUI’s and IVF’s. Here is what I have learned about how acupuncture can be beneficial before, during and after an IVF or IUI cycle.
It is recomended that you start treatment 3 months prior to your IVF/IUI cycle, as this is the time it takes for an egg to mature. We see the best results if you have 8-12 treatments during this time. Acupuncture can help improve egg maturation, as well as the quality of your ovarian reserve. We will also discuss nutrition and lifestyle advice since pre-conception health is important and preparing your body for a pregnancy is always in your best interest.
We recommend coming weekly during the supression stage of your IVF and biweekly during the stimulation phase of your cycle. If you are having an IUI, then coming weekly is enough. Acupuncture can help increase the responsiveness of your ovaries to the fertility medications. It can also help mitigate some of the side affects of the medications. It will increase blood flow to the uterus, which will improve the endometrial lining and quality of the follicles. For women with PCOS, it can also help adjust the fluid balance in your low abdomen which can help you avoid potential symptoms of hyperstimulation. On the day of your retrieval, acupuncture can help to decrease cramping, feelings of nausea or other side affects from the anesthia such as headaches. Lastly, it will help decrease the feelings of stress and anxiety that comes with an IVF/IUI cycle.
The Day of
We recommend that you have acupuncture before and after your IVF and before your IUI. On the day of the IVF/IUI acupuncture will put your mind at ease, relax your cervix and uterus by decreasing contractions from the procedure, as well as increase blood flow to the uterus so that it is a warm and nutritive place for implantation to occur.
We recommend that you have a treatment 5-7 days after your IVF or IUI. This treatment helps to assist and stabilize implantation. If you have miscarried in the past, we recommend that you have acupuncture weekly until 4 weeks since the time of your last miscarriage. Thus if you miscarried at 6 weeks, then we suggest that you come in through week 10 of your pregnancy. Acupuncture can help decrease the likelihood of miscarriage, help moderate morning sickness as well as some of the other side effects women experience as their bodies change (please see the pregnancy and postpartum section if interested).
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