Frozen embryo transfer

Many IVF clinics like to transfer embryos into a natural environment. Embryos that have been frozen and successfully thawed are transferred back into a uterus in its natural state at exactly the right time for implantation. In addition to applying TCM principals and an individual approach we may use mild electro-stimulation on acupuncture points on the abdomen in the weeks before the transfer.

 

Preparing to conceive – a healthy diet

There is much information and misinformation about what constitutes a good preconception diet. From a Chinese medicine point of view the middle road is usually the healthiest where moderation of some foods is recommended and a good balance of healthy and fresh fruits and vegetables with adequate protein is encouraged. A TCM practitioner takes into account the different constitution and situation of each individual before dietary advice is given.

A properly functioning digestive system is an important focus of treatment, so that nutrients are absorbed and utilised well. In the clinic we will ask you about digestive issues such as bloating, bowel disorders, reflux, cravings or low appetite.

 

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Preparing to conceive – weight loss

If you are overweight a little bit of weight loss goes a long way to improving fertility. Losing 5 kg is a manageable target for most and you can start now. Just moving your metabolism a little bit in the direction of burning off fat stores, can stimulate ovarian activity, improve egg and sperm quality and increase fertility.

Acupuncture is often used, as part of a comprehensive programme, to help control appetite and improve motivation. An analysis of your constitution and the reasons for your weight gain by an experienced acupuncturist will lead to an individualised treatment plan designed to support you in a weight loss programme in a safe and stable manner.

Should you choose to use a Chinese medicine approach to support your weight loss regimen we may recommend using gentle electro acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine . Systematic reviews of trials in this area report encouraging results but larger trials are needed before claims to efficacy can be made.

 

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Preparing to conceive – the eggs

The environment that eggs occupy during their lengthy maturation process in the ovary has an impact on what shape they are in before meeting a sperm (with or without an IVF embryologist in attendance).  They need a good blood supply, the right nutrients, the right hormone signals and the capacity to supply enough energy to the embryo.

This has important implications, particularly for eggs that are coming from slightly older ovaries (and possibly for eggs coming from women with PCOS or endometriosis). While no treatment can turn back the clock, or change the DNA, the follicular and whole body environment within which the eggs develop is worth looking after.

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Preparing to conceive – the sperm

A number of studies in several countries have examined the effect of acupuncture treatment on some sperm parameters. In these trials mild electro-acupuncture were applied to the abdomen and the lower legs.

However while a meta analysis of some of these trials found that motility and count may be improved by acupuncture, larger trials need to be done before definitive conclusions or clinical recommendations can be made.

Lifestyle factors make a big difference to the health of sperm, and the good news is that most of it is under your control. Read More

Embryo transfer (including frozen embryo transfer)

Our clinics offer one or two acupuncture treatments around the time of embryo transfer where appropriate. These are based on protocols used in clinical trials some of which showed an increase in pregnancy rates in certain groups of women receiving acupuncture (most commonly those for whom the expected pregnancy rate was 30% or less). The most recent study has found that this small “dose” of acupuncture showed no effect on live birth rate in a large population of women of all ages undergoing IVF, compared with sham acupuncture . Some researchers report better results with more frequent administration of acupuncture before and during the stimulation phase of the IVF cycle. (You can find the references for these trials here, and here)
In our clinic we find that IVF patients appreciate the calm and relaxation that acupuncture brings on this special day, and gives them space to honour the arrival of the precious embryo.