Research indicates that the use of acupuncture in conjunction with assisted reproduction techniques such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intra-uterine insemination (IUI) can greatly increase the chances of conception and decrease the risk of miscarriage. Several published landmark studies demonstrate this effectiveness.1, 2, 3 A meta-analysis in the British Medical Journal found that the odds of a live birth almost doubled when using acupuncture with IVF.4
Research indicates that the use of acupuncture in conjunction with assisted reproduction techniques such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intra-uterine insemination (IUI) can greatly increase the chances of conception and decrease the risk of miscarriage.
The above studies demonstrate that IVF acupuncture must be timed appropriately and administered in the proper manner to be effective. More importantly, other studies have shown that inappropriate techniques, poorly timed acupuncture, and/or acupuncture performed by an unskilled practitioner, does not improve pregnancy rates. A common misconception of the untrained acupuncturist is that acupuncture must be done 30-minutes before a transfer and 30-minutes after to be effective. While this may be true, it is not always true. What’s more important, is that the acupuncturist chooses an appropriate treatment protocol and modifies that protocol if needed, based on the time of the treatment and other variable factors. For IVF acupuncture to be effective, it is paramount that the acupuncturist has specialty training in reproductive acupuncture and has passed subspecialty board exams in oriental reproductive medicine (ABORM), or has certification by a specialty organization. We have this training.
When using acupuncture as an integrative medicine to support IVF/IUI treatment protocols, we recommend it during the following times:
At a minimum, acupuncture can be used both before and after an embryo transfer to increase pregnancy rates. Performing acupuncture at this time can lessen unwanted side effects of medications, increase blood flow to the uterus to promote higher implantation rates, decrease uterine spasms and cramping to improve implantation rates, and relax the mind and parasympathetic nervous system 5. Acupuncture at this time is usually recommended within 24 hours prior to embryo transfer and either immediately after embryo transfer or up to several days post transfer.
In preparing for an upcoming cycle, a course of treatments from one to five months prior to an IVF cycle may be recommended. One influencing factor during this time is the development and recruitment time of follicles. In order to maximize follicular quality, we may recommend acupuncture for a period up to five months. This helps to enhance eqq quality, regulate menstrual cycles, and address any other concomitant factors. When time is of the essence, treatment for periods less than that are still beneficial and will help to improve overall health to support conception.
Rhythms has the only board certified reproductive acupuncturist in Maine and New Hampshire with specialty training from the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM). Our locations in Portsmouth, Kennebunk, and Portland allow you the convenience for treatment close to home or your chosen IVF center.
1 Paulus, et.al. Influence of Acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy: Fertility and Sterility Vol: 77, No. 4, April 2002
2 Quintero et.al A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Cross-Over Study Evaluating Acupuncture as an Adjunct to In-Vitro Fertilization: Fertility and Sterility Vol: 81, Supplement 3, April, 2004
3 Dieterle S, et.al. Fertility and Sterility 2006 Apr 7.
4 Manheimer E, et.al. Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis: British Medical Journal,
2008 Feb 7
5 Stener-Victorin E, et al Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Hum Reprod 1996;11:1314 -7.; Stener-Victorin E, et al, Ovarian blood flow responses to electro-acupuncture stimulation at different frequencies and intensities in anaesthetized rats: Auton Neurosci. 2003 Oct 31;108(1-2):50-6.