Acupuncture for Infertility: Frequently Asked Questions
1. Based upon research, what is the success rate for acupuncture helping IVF/IUI?
|Paulus, 2002||160 women||Acupuncture: 80
|Acupuncture right before & after Embryos Transfer||Acupuncture group had a higher pregnancy rate (42.5% vs 26.3%)|
|Dieterle, 2006||225 women
Placebo Acupuncture (Sham points): 109
|Acupuncture right before and after Embryos Transfer plus one session 3 days post Embryos Transfer.||Acupuncture group compared to the placebo group had significantly higher pregnancy rate (33.6% vs 16.5%), implantation rate(14.2% vs 5.9%) and ongoing pregnancy rate(28.4% vs 13.8%)|
|Westergaard, 2006||273 women
|Acupuncture right before & after Embryos Transfer, plus 2 days post Embryos Transfer.||Acupuncture group compared to control had significantly higher clinical and ongoing pregnancy rate(39% vs 26% and 36% vs 22%)|
|Stenervictorin 1999||150 women
|One acupuncture before and until the end of oocyte aspiration||Acupuncture had significantly higher implantation rate (27.2% vs 16.3%), pregnancy rate (45.9% vs 28.3%), and take-home baby rate (41% vs 19.4%)|
2. Do I need acupuncture only before Embryos Transfer (ET) and after the transfer?
According to the research protocols stated above, a 25 minute acupuncture treatment, right before ET and after ET, increases the chance of a successful pregnancy. Acupuncture helps blood flow to the uterus during ET and release stress, so that it will help the implantation of the embryos. If this is your first IVF/IUI cycle, it is recommended to start acupuncture 8 to 10 sessions before the embryos transfer. Failure of previous IVF/IUI cycle means there could be some disorders going on in the body and it needs longer time to be balanced. In this situation, you might need an average of 20 to 30 sessions of acupuncture before starting the IVF/IUI cycle.
Results that I have obtained in my 35 years+ of practice in the field of acupuncture for OB/GYN/Fertility has shown me that in order to prepare and balance the hormones, it is advisable for patients who have complicated conditions, to start acupuncture two or three months before IVF/IUF.
Some of these disorders include:
- Failed previous IVF or IUI cycle
- High FSH
- Luteal phase defect
- Poor egg quality
- Thyroid problem
- Unexplained Infertility issues
- Immunological factors
Acupuncture should be done before IUI and ET:
*Before (2 to 3 months prior to cycle) – to improve egg quality and regulate hormones, increase the number of follicles, thicken uterus lining, and improve your overall health and well-being. For men, acupuncture is able to strenghten semen, impove semen quality and quantity.
*During – to increase the amount of blood in the uterus, improve the quality of the uterine environment by relaxing uterine muscles, release stress, and give embryos a good environment.
*After (once pregnant) – to prevent miscarriages and minimizes morning sickness in the first trimester.
3. When should I start acupuncture treatment for IVF/IUI support?
If you are scheduled to start the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) of IVF/IUI, it is recomended that you come for acupuncture as soon as possible.
4. How often should I have acupuncture treatments for my Infertility?
If an IVF/IUI cycle is scheduled within one month, treatment is recommended 2 times per week, or, 8 to 10 sessions before transfer. If you have planned to do IVF/ IUI 3 or 4 months in advance, you can do acupuncture 2 times per week before ovulation, then once per week after ovulation. In this way, acupuncture will help to improve your egg quality and thicken the uterine lining. Of course, more treatment will increase the benefit. Lots of my patients have naturally conceived before IVF/IUI started.
5. What should I expect from the first visit?
During the first visit, Dr. Yang and Dr. Liu will take a detailed medical history related to infertility, including:
- Review the details of your menstrual cycle and blood flow during menstruation
- Review your BBT chart
- HSG result
- Day 3 of blood work if it’s available
- Understanding your purpose for having acupuncture (such as if it is for natural conceive or IVF/IUI support)
- Review your previous IVF/IUI result if it’s available
- Review your partner sperm analysis if it’s possible
- Examine your whole system
They will also ask questions about your whole system, check your tongue and the quality of your pulse. Dr. Yang and Dr. Liu will give you a holistic and traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis code, followed by a discussion on acupuncture treatment plans. In the first visit you will get acupuncture treatment too.
Dr. Yang’s and Dr. Liu’s goal is to offer new hope through natural, holistic fertility treatment and gynecological care by bringing experience and compassion for your quest to conceive and helping your dream to become a reality.
6. After a failed IVF/IUI cycle, can acupuncture help to conceive naturally?
Yes, it is definitely possible.
In our acupuncture clinic, we have had many success stories with women who failed IVF/IUI cycle. After several acupuncture sessions, many patients were able to naturally conceive. Many of my patients tell you not to rush to do IVF, you should try acupuncture before IVF/IUI cycle.
If you want to naturally conceive, we want to make sure that the male’s sperm is also good quality. Successful conception not only depends on the women’s egg, but also depends on the male’s sperm quality. Sperm needs the capacity to get to the egg, the strength to penetrate it and ability to fertilize it; therefore, optimal sperm will posses normal motility, morphology and count/quantity.
Acupuncture treatments are also recommended for men in order to strengthen sperm and increase the chances of pregnancy. Scientific research supports that acupuncture can improve male’s sperm quality in motility and morphology.
7. After I conceived, do I need acupuncture again?
I highly suggest that you do some “holding baby” sessions. There are several safe points can be needled during your pregnancy, to prevent miscarriage, reduce the risk of blood clotting issues, and reduce the chance of severe morning sickness. This would be done once per week until you have passed your 12th week of pregnancy.
8. In your acupuncture clinic, how old was the oldest oldest woman to successfully conceive?
In our acupuncture clinic, the oldest woman who conceived was 46.5 years old and delivered healthy baby with their own egg. There are many women over 40 in our clinic who conceived successfully. Some conceived naturally or via natural IUI, some of them employed IUI or IVF with medication. For women who are over 40 years old with long term High FSH, it is suggested first to try to conceive naturally, use natural IUI or wait for FSH levels to be normal. The last option would be IVF.
9. Do you prescribe herbs in your clinic?
Yes, Dr. Yang and Dr. Liu are certified national herbalist. We offer both patent herbs and herbal tea. Herbal tea is made by concentrated powder. We prescribe the formula based on your tongue, pulse and your condition. Herbs are highly recommended for patients who want to conceive and have additional complications, such as: hormone imbalance, high FSH/E2, endometriosis or unexplained infertility. Some western doctors may ask you to stop herbs when you start the stimulation drugs for the IVF/IUI cycle.