How Acupuncture Supports IVF & IUI Cycles
Patients often come to me for acupuncture to support IVF or IUI cycles.
Ideally, I like to begin treating three months prior to an IVF or IUI cycle. This is true both for couples who are trying to conceive naturally and for those who are using assisted reproductive technology. Taking this time to treat any underlying conditions that may be hindering fertility and preparing the body for pregnancy gives you the best possible chance of conception.
If you are just finding me and you already have an IUI or IVF cycle scheduled, don’t worry there’s still a lot we can do to support you and your body during the process!
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
IUI Cycles are a common first step for women who are having difficulty conceiving. Whether they are medicated or not, acupuncture works to support the body and enhance conception. In either case, I typically recommend weekly treatments through the month of the IUI Cycle.
Preparing for an IVF Cycle
While treatment protocols and frequency vary, I commonly recommend patients come in for weekly treatments while preparing for an IVF cycle. Patients who take the time to get ready for a cycle respond better to medications, have fewer side effects from medications, have higher rates of pregnancy, and have fewer miscarriages. I recommend one to three months of consistent treatment for best results. During that time I will focus on:
- Treating underlying health concerns that may be hindering fertility
- Regulating and stabilizing hormones
- Improving the function of the ovaries
- Support endocrine systems that directly impact fertility (ovaries, adrenals, thyroid etc.)
- Reduce stress levels
- Optimize digestion to enhance nutrient absorption
- Strengthen the immune system
If you’re 40 years of age or older, have not responded well to stimulation in past IVF cycles, have very low AMH, or have a very high FSH, you may want to consider twice a week treatments during deprogramming or down-regulation (birth control) and/or the weeks of Estrogen Priming.
Acupuncture During Stimulation Phase
I recommend one to two treatments per week during the stimulation phase of the IVF Cycle. Twice a week treatments are especially important for women who have diminished ovarian reserve, have not responded well to the stimulation phase in past IVF cycles, have low AMH levels, high FSH levels, or are older than 35 years of age. Acupuncture treatment during this 8 to 12 day period has been found to:
- Improve response to IVF Medications
- Optimize the thickness of the uterine lining
- Increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries
- Support follicle development
- Prevent Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
- Manage symptoms associated with stimulant medication (fatigue, bloating, anxiety, & swelling)
- Reduce stress and anxiety to keep cortisol levels low
It is also beneficial to receive treatment in the short window between your Retrieval and your Transfer. During this time treatment will work to increase blood flow to the uterus, support the growth of the endometrial lining, and calm the uterus to reduce possible cramping or uterine contractions.
Acupuncture on the Day of Transfer
Acupuncture has been found to be beneficial on the day of transfer when it is performed on site and specifically 20 minutes before transfer and 20 minutes after transfer. Because it is not possible to administer acupuncture on site in most Boston hospitals or IVF clinics, I recommend taking the day of the transfer to rest, relax, hydrate, and eat foods that are rich in nutrients.
Acupuncture Between Transfer and Pregnancy Test
Acupuncture can resume anytime in the days following your transfer. Many women find acupuncture to be a wonderful way to reduce stress levels while also supporting the uterus and nurture a developing embryo. Treatments will help:
- Relax the mind and keep stress hormones low
- Reduce the likelihood of uterine contractions
- Enhance blood flow to the uterus and support the developing embryo
Acupuncture During the First Few Weeks of Pregnancy and Beyond
I specialize in treating women during pregnancy and have found it to be beneficial in helping sustain healthy pregnancies, manage pregnancy symptoms, and prepare women for labor. If you’d like to know more about acupuncture treatments during pregnancy click here.