Acupuncture + IVF

Research: Chinese Medicine and IVF

Using the Full Breadth of Chinese Medicine Can Improve IVF Outcomes

In a recent published study, women going through IVF were grouped in three different ways to assess pregnancy and live birth rates: no acupuncture with their IVF, protocol-based acupuncture and customized Chinese medicine treatments, where treatments were individualized according to patient's needs and Chinese medicine pattern diagnosis, while aiming to support the goals of the IVF phase.

Of 1,231 fresh cycles, live birth rates were 61.3% in the "whole systems" group compared to IVF alone (48.2%) and protocol acupuncture (50.8%).

In conclusion, when using the full breadth of Chinese medicine including diagnosis specific to the individual, which lends itself to customized acupuncture, herbal therapy, supplements, nutrition and lifestyle advice, the outcomes are even better than simply using protocol acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer (even though that's also much better than none at all!).

So, based on research, Integrative Fertility recommends getting preparatory acupuncture prior to your IVF cycle. However, we're happy to dive in with you wherever you are and support you to the best of our ability.

References:

Lee E. Hullender Rubin, Michael S. Opsahl, Klaus Wiemer, Scott D. Mist, Aaron B. Caughey, Impact of whole systems traditional Chinese medicine on in vitro fertilization outcomes, Reproductive BioMedicine Online (2015)

What is Your Acupuncturist Working On? Part I: Blood Flow

You've heard that your acupuncturist is working on the whole you, but how are they helping specific aspects of your fertility treatment? We'll answer these questions in a series of modules starting with the topic of blood flow to the uterine environment.

For such an important system, the uterus is only supplied by two main arteries, and uterine blood flow is directly related to endometrial receptivity, which is one factor in IVF outcomes. In recent years a growing number of studies have shown that acupuncture can influence pregnancy outcomes by increasing blood supply to the uterus.  

The mechanisms by which acupuncture can improve uterine blood flow are by promoting the formation of uterine endometrial blood vessels by modulating expressions of a variety of vessel growth factors, regulating nitric oxide level for inhibition of vascular smooth muscle contraction of the uterus and controlling the expansion of the uterine arteries by inhibiting the sympathetic nerves. Furthermore, when your acupuncturist is working on blood flow, their treatments are based on differentiating patterns that are unique to you and combining that knowledge with your western diagnosis for an even more tailored approach to your success.

The integration of acupuncture and Western medicine has shown to increase their combined effect, often resulting in higher pregnancy rates.

So, get some acupuncture to help you go with the flow. It'll relax you and your uterine arteries!

Guo J, Wang LN, Li D. Exploring the effects of Chinese medicine in improving uterine endometrial blood flow for increasing the successful rate of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2011 Dec;9(12):1301-6.

Ho M, Huang LC, Chang YY, Chen HY, Chang WC, Yang TC, Tsai HD. Electroacupuncture reduces uterine artery blood flow impedance in infertile women. Altern Ther Health Med. 2007 May-Jun;13(3):38-48.

Stener-Victorin E1, Waldenström U, Andersson SA, Wikland M. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture.

Hum Reprod. 1996 Jun;11(6):1314-7.

Research Summary: Acupuncture + IVF for Pregnancy

The following excerpt is from a paper which evaluated whether or not acupuncture improved pregnancy and live birth rates when combined with IVF:
 
The authors reviewed 7 clinical trials, which included 1,366 women undergoing one IVF cycle who received acupuncture within one day of embryo transfer versus women who received no acupuncture with their IVF.

In these studies, acupuncture combined with IVF Increased pregnancy by 65%, increased the likelihood of ongoing pregnancy by 87% and increased the likelihood of a live birth by 91%.

This evidence suggests that acupuncture alongside IVF may improve pregnancy and live birth rates.
To read the full paper, click here: http://www.eiccam.eu/pdfs/EICCAM_Research_Facts_21_acu_IVF_publication_e.pdf
 
Having said this, everyone is unique. So, please consult with your physician to make sure acupuncture is the right match for you.

contributed by Caylie See, L.Ac., FABORM