IVF Acupuncture. What’s the point?
Navigating the IVF journey can be overwhelming. If you’re embarking on your IVF cycle, or even if it’s your first one, you might be wondering if acupuncture could enhance your chances of conceiving.
At Acupuncture Pregnancy Clinic, we comprehend the challenges and stress that come with infertility. We are here to provide compassionate, professional, and evidence-based support, empowering you to confidently navigate your fertility journey. If you’re considering acupuncture as a supportive treatment here is helpful information. In this blog, we simplify this research, offering guidance on the optimal timing, frequency, and dosage of acupuncture to enhance your IVF outcomes. Our recommendations are based on comprehensive research findings from 2015, 2018, 2019, and 2023, ensuring you receive the most relevant and up-to-date information.
- Why Consider IVF Acupuncture?
- What does acupuncture do?
- When to Start Acupuncture?
- Key times for acupuncture during IVF
- Our Recommended Treatment Plan
- Embryo transfer acupuncture considerations
- What else you can do
- How to access our informative weekly workshops on fertility
- Why work with us and to book
- The research explained.
1. Why Consider IVF Acupuncture?
Acupuncture has been shown to help improve IVF outcomes both physiologically including reduced stress and anxiety and Physiological improved response, fertilisation rates, higher Clinical pregnancy and Live birth outcomes when performed at the right time and with the right dose of acupuncture treatments. Check out our IVF acupuncture- The research explained blog for more on the research.
Understanding the complex world of IVF acupuncture research can be daunting. Initially, studies focused on embryo transfer acupuncture, but recent research suggests that higher doses of acupuncture before and during IVF might yield the most benefits.
2. What does acupuncture do?
- Inhibit central sympathetic nerve activity to promote vasodilation and increase blood flow to ovaries and uterus.
- Induce neurotransmitter release which activates GnRH, to increase ovulation, menstrual regularity and overall fertility.
- Increase endogenous opioids, and endorphins thereby mitigating adverse stress response.
Int J Women’s Health. 2014; 6:313-325
3. When to Start Acupuncture?
In short… Probably as soon as you can or 3 months prior.
Ideally 3 + months as this is the life cycle of egg and sperm from immature cell to what will create you baby. Every step of the way in 3 months can make an impact on the health and fertility potential of egg and sperm, however, closer egg or sperm to it being fully formed egg/ sperm the more impact everything eaten, exposed to, hormonal levels etc have on its health.
We often see patients no more than 1 month prior a cycle, and research suggests (and we see in the clinic) we can make a big impact then too!
4. Key times for Acupuncture IVF cycle
- Before and during the stimulation phase of your IVF cycle can be advantageous.
- Research indicates that acupuncture before and during the stimulation phase of your IVF cycle can be advantageous. Also, the earlier in your cycle (from day one of period) the better. Acupuncture is like IVF medication and best starts on day 2 or 3 of the cycle for best results.
- It’s beneficial to consider acupuncture in the menstrual cycles preceding your IVF cycle or before a frozen embryo transfer to enhance the uterine lining.
- The key lies in the dose – studies show a significant increase in pregnancy rates with higher doses of acupuncture sessions. Ideally, undergoing 9-12 treatments before embryo transfer can substantially boost your chances of a live birth.
- However, even 4 sessions or more in lead-up to and around embryo transfer can significantly enhance the likelihood of clinical pregnancy. Check out the research below (#11)
5. Our Recommended Treatment Plan
- Prior to IVF cycle or prior to frozen embryo transfer: Acupuncture 1- 2 x per week with herbs prescribed to increase microcirculation to ovaries and uterus, regulate and optimise hormones throughout the menstrual cycle, and optimise endometrial development.
- During IVF cycle stimulation: Acupuncture 1- 2 x per week without herbs to increase microcirculation and blood flow to ovaries and uterus, optimise follicular development and endometrial growth, and support hormonal to IVF medication while reducing IVF medication side effects.
- Embryo transfer: Acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer on the same day to support the embryo transfer, with pre-transfer aims to open meridians that run through the uterus and increase blood and energy circulation in these areas. Post-embryo transfer acupuncture points aim to help support progesterone, reduce cramping, and calm the mind.
- Two-week wait: Acupuncture 1 x per week with herbs prescribed to reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and support implantation and/or possible pregnancy.
- After the pregnancy test: Review with the practitioner to discuss results. Plan A for a positive pregnancy includes weekly acupuncture to support the early stages of pregnancy and reduce symptoms. Plan B for a negative result includes a thorough review of the case, discussion of next steps and what can be done to improve outcomes and a treatment plan to improve the chances of success for the next IVF cycle/embryo transfer.
6. Embryo transfer acupuncture considerations
- Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer has significant benefits for women who have increased stress levels or who have had multiple previous IVF cycles, or where there was a low baseline pregnancy rate (Smith 2018). Continuing this approach in the two-week wait is also helpful for these women to manage IVF-related stress and anxiety.
- Embryo Transfer acupuncture best be done on the same day (or within 24 hours if on the same day is not possible) and on-site or with minimum travel. Acupuncture over the two-week wait can be useful in reducing stress and anxiety.
7. What else can you do?
It is important to note that research suggests that Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture have a significant effect on fertility outcomes when used separately, but an even more significant effect when used in conjunction. Read more on Research on herbal medicine research on fertility outcomes here.
We advise on diet and lifestyle, as well as supplements and herbs where appropriate that can help support your health, fertility and pregnancy, and also run weekly information sessions for those trying to conceive IVF or otherwise.
Making it on Monday: A Weekly Workshop for Moms and Dads Making Is all about empowering women and men who are trying to conceive through providing weekly workshops on topics such as TCM fertility tips, nutrition, and mindset as well as tips from the experts inside and outside of our clinic.
8. How to access our Weekly Fertility Education Workshops?
We would like to invite you to join our private online community The IVF and fertility support private Facebook group. This group was set up to support you on your fertility journey and we hope it will become your go to place for all things fertility. The group is 100% private and confidential.
9. Why work with us?
At Acupuncture Pregnancy Clinic, we understand what you’re going through, and we’re here to help you confidently navigate your fertility journey and discover your potential. Our highly trained team of Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners has been providing compassionate TCM support to people just like you since 2008.
We use the latest research to inform our practice, so you can be sure that you’re getting the best possible evidence-based Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture care and the best possible outcomes.
The Acupuncture Pregnancy Clinic is an Industry leader in evidence-based Integrative Traditional Chinese Medicine for reproductive health, including natural conception, IVF, women’s health conditions (such as irregular cycles, PCOS, and Endometriosis), and pregnancy support from conception to birth and postnatal care.
All our practitioners are degree qualified and AHPRA registered with extensive training experience in the areas of IVF, fertility, women’s health, and pregnancy. So, you can be assured you are getting the highest quality of care. We are an Integrative Chinese Medicine Clinic, which means we work alongside and in collaboration with mainstream healthcare providers, and with other allied health providers.
We have 6 locations in Australia including Sydney East, West, CBD, Central Coast, East Melbourne, and Mornington.
10. How to Book?
Recap- When should I book in?
- Ideally, come in 1-3 months before you start your IVF cycle. If you start less than 3 months prior, we recommend you come in more often.
- We recommend bi-weekly treatment for 4 weeks prior to IVF cycle and 2 weeks during stimulation cycle.
- Electro Acupuncture and Low-level laser Therapy (LLL) may be used during IVF stimulation and/or prior to Frozen embryo transfer.
Our Clinics are located in Sydney: CBD, Westmead and Alexandria, Central Coast NSW in Holgate & Gosford, as well as East Melbourne and Mornington in Victoria.
You deserve to feel relaxed, in control, and excited about your fertility and pregnancy journey. At Acupuncture Pregnancy Clinic, we understand what you’re going through, and we’re here to help you confidently navigate your fertility journey and discover your potential. Our highly trained, compassionate and knowledgeable Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners have been providing compassionate TCM support to people trying to have a family just like you since 2008.
Get the support you need to confidently navigate your fertility journey and discover your potential with our evidence-based approach to fertility and pregnancy care. Take charge of your reproductive health with us.
Cochrane S, Smith CA, Possamai-Inesedy A, Bensoussan A. Acupuncture and women’s health: an overview of the role of acupuncture and its clinical management in women’s reproductive health. Int J Womens Health. 2014 Mar 17; 6:313-25. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S38969. PMID: 24669195; PMCID: PMC3962314.
Evans, H. D and Abrahamse, H, Effect of Laser Irradiation on Mitochondrial Responses of Stressed Keratinocytes, WALT 2008 (conference paper)
Hullender Rubin, L., Opsahl, M. S., Wiemer, K. E., Mist, S. D., & Caughey, A. B. (2015). Impact of whole systems traditional Chinese medicine on in-vitro fertilisation outcomes. Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 30 (6), 602–612
Kusuma AC, Oktari N, Mihardja H, Srilestari A, Simadibrata CL, Hestiantoro A, Wiweko B, Muna N. Electroacupuncture Enhances Number of Mature Oocytes and Fertility Rates for In Vitro Fertilization. Med Acupunct. 2019 Oct 1;31(5):289-297. doi: 10.1089/acu.2019.1368. Epub 2019 Oct 17. PMID: 31624528; PMCID: PMC6795274
Menghao Xu, Mengdi Zhu, and Cuihong ZhengEffects of Acupuncture on Pregnancy Outcomes in Women Undergoing IVF: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” by (2023)
Shuai Z, Lian F, Li P, Yang W. Effect of transcutaneous electrical acupuncture point stimulation on endometrial receptivity in women undergoing frozen-thawed embryo transfer: a single-blind prospective randomised controlled trial. Acupunct Med. 2015 Feb;33(1):9-15. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2014-010572. Epub 2014 Oct 10. PMID: 25303950.
Smith CA, Armour M, Shewamene Z, Tan HY, Norman RJ, Johnson NP. Acupuncture performed around the time of embryo transfer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reprod Biomed Online. 2019 Mar;38(3):364-379. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2018.12.038. Epub 2019 Jan 2. PMID: 30658892.