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.
Recent analyses of the benefit of IVF patients receiving acupuncture have shown that patients who have treatment before and during the stimulation and implantation phases benefit more than those that have acupuncture only on the day of embryo transfer (reference)
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.
Women undergoing IVF often use acupuncture as a adjunctive support – some report greater relaxation and control of anxiety, and overall greater resilience. The acupuncture treatment will be different for each patient and depends on symptoms.
Many IVF patients find the “two week wait” the hardest part (even when its only 10 days!). Acupuncture may be a useful support during this time to keep the mind calm and the stress hormones low.