Can Acupuncture Help with IVF? 

Acupuncture is a common complementary therapy alongside in vitro fertilization (IVF) and is performed with the aim of improving the chances of a successful pregnancy (delivering a healthy baby) via IVF. 

In a 2008 study involving 1,366 women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), acupuncture was found to increase a woman's chances of pregnancy by 65%. Another study found that of women who received acupuncture with IVF, 35% had a baby, compared with 25% of women in the control groups. 

At Husami Integrative Acupuncture we keep up with the latest research to ensure that the treatments we provide offer the very best support for your IVF cycle. Please visit our Research Page for more information on the latest clinical trials and studies regarding acupuncture and fertility. 

How Acupuncture Supports IVF 

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Clinical trials have demonstrated that acupuncture appears to accomplish the following:

  • Optimizes chances of implantation: acupuncture appears to stimulate blood flow and microcirculation in uterine blood vessels. This positively affects the endometrium such that it may have greater receptivity to the egg for implantation. (Reference)

  • Promote blood flow to the follicles (this is important as eggs that come from follicles with optimal blood supply have higher fertilization rates and developmental potential leading to improved IVF outcomes. (Reference)

  • Regulates reproductive hormones. (Reference)

  • Normalizes insulin sensitivity - excess insulin can lead to an increase in testosterone, among other hormones, and the resulting testosterone can halt ovulation. Estrogen, Progesterone, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) can be affected and follicular development may be hindered as a result. If ovulation does occur, egg quality may be low. (Reference)

  • Promotes ovulation. (Reference)

  • Reduce stress before and during IVF.

  • Minimize side effects associated with IVF.

How Often Should I Get Fertility Acupuncture Treatments?

Research suggests that acupuncture and Chinese medicine provide the greatest benefit when begun three months before an IVF cycle starts, and continuing throughout. We understand that a three month head-start may not always be possible. In those cases we are more than happy to begin your treatments just before IVF or mid-cycle. We typically recommend the following treatment schedule:

  1. (Ideally) Treatment for three months prior to IVF to prep the uterus and follicles for best outcomes

  2. Two treatments per week for four weeks before and during the stimulation (medication) phase

  3. Treatment in the days following egg retrieval (to reduce any local tissue trauma or bleeding and to help prepare the uterus for the arrival of an embryo)

  4. We also recommend treatment just before (or at time of) embryo transfer - we can schedule to attend your transfer and provide treatment on site

  5. Treatment in the days following embryo transfer

What do the Treatments Do at Each Phase?

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Before and During Stimulation/ Medication Phase

  • Stimulates blood supply to the uterus and ovaries

  • Regulates hormones important to follicle development and implantation

  • Reduces anxiety and manages any side effects you might experience as a result of IVF, such as fatigue, moodiness, abdominal swelling, discomfort, nausea, depression and anxiety

Research suggests that women who have acupuncture before and during the stimulation phase may have better outcomes than those who only receive acupuncture at embryo transfer.

Acupuncture Following Egg Retrieval

  • Reduces local trauma and any bleeding following egg collection

  • Helps prepare the uterus for the arrival of an embryo

Acupuncture to Prepare for Frozen Embryo Transfer

Using electro-stimulation paired with acupuncture points on the abdomen in two to three months before the transfer has been shown to improve the following: 

Acupuncture at Embryo Transfer (fresh and frozen)

Research has shown an increase in pregnancy rates in some cohorts of women who have acupuncture at embryo transfer (particularly in cases where the expected pregnancy rate is 30% or less). However treatments appear to be more effective when paired with a series of acupuncture treatments beforehand. (Reference) We usually recommend that IVF patients have acupuncture before and during the stimulation phase, and then a treatment on the day of embryo transfer or in the days preceding transfer. 

Acupuncture before the Pregnancy Test

The two week wait before the pregnancy test can be difficult. We provide acupuncture at this time in order to:

  • Keep the mind and body relaxed

  • Minimize exposure to stress hormones