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Acupuncture is a fantastic resource for enhancing your fertility, and can be a great complement to modern assisted reproductive techniques like IVF and IUI. You might be wondering how acupuncture can help, when you should come for treatments and if are there any risks or other concerns.
When should I start?
In a nutshell, the sooner the better! Chinese medicine helps your body to function at its most optimal level – and this doesn’t happen overnight. You need to get the field ready before you can plant the crops! Nourishing your body and regulating your cycle can take time, and ideally we would do acupuncture and herbs for a few months before moving on to more serious interventions. Sometimes acupuncture and herbal medicine can do the trick all on their own. As soon as you are planning to conceive, a consultation with your practitioner can help you formulate a plan to get your body ready.
But I am already doing IVF, can it still help?
Yes! Acupuncture has been proven to help your body to respond better to the medications and treatments you are receiving. It can also help moderate the side effects of those drugs, such as bloating, headaches, and mood swings. It can be especially helpful to receive acupuncture during the ovarian stimulation phase in order to encourage the maximum number of follicles (eggs) produced in a cycle. Acupuncture can also help the uterine lining to be healthy and thick to promote implantation. And let’s not forget about stress. Acupuncture can greatly reduce stress which we all know can negatively impact our fertility, our sleep and our immune system.
When should I come in and how often?
Acupuncture is most beneficial when done on a regular basis. A general rule of thumb is once a week, but when you are in the stimulation phase of your cycle it can be helpful to come twice a week. In addition, we have seen studies which show that coming in within 24 hours before and after the embryo transfer can greatly improve success rates. You can read the study for yourself here:
Is it safe? Is there anything I should be worried about?
The great thing about acupuncture is that it is safe and effective and can be used in conjunction with western medicine. We generally do not give Chinese herbs when a patient is already taking medications for an IVF cycle. However, herbs may be prescribed in conjunction with other types of fertility treatments.
How does it work?
From a western perspective acupuncture can increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, reduce uterine contractions post embryo transfer (to aid implantation) and calm the nervous system. From a Chinese medicine viewpoint we are nourishing and promoting the flow of Qi and blood. The best part about Chinese medicine is that it takes into account your specific situation and health history. Not all women with fertility issues will have the same Chinese medicine diagnosis. We tailor the treatment to your particular constitution and what is happening in your cycle. We formulate a treatment plan that is unique to you, even when the goal is the same – having a healthy pregnancy!