Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) are an area in which acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be extremely beneficial. These include:
- IUI (Intrauterine Insemination/ Artificial Insemination)
- IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)
- Egg Freezing
- Donor Egg Transfers
Acupuncture used alone or in conjunction with herbs has been shown to:
- Increase blood flow to the uterus
- Improve ovarian function
- Regulate hormones
- Prevent uterine contraction
- Lessen side effects from drugs
- Regulate the immune system
- Decrease the chances of miscarriage
- Reduce physical and emotional stress.
- Improve Sperm Quality and Quantity
A popular study in Germany found that acupuncture administered before and after IVF treatments doubled the rate of success compared to a control group. To read this study, click here. In fact, many studies have been done at this point demonstrating the usefulness of Chinese Medicine for ART, fertility and gynecology. To read further about them, click here.
Kymberly understands that many aspects of a person’s life can contribute to his/ her fertility. Therefore, in addition to acupuncture and herbal medicine, diet, exercise and lifestyle will all be examined and modified to maximize results.
PREPARING FOR YOUR ART CYCLE:
Earlier studies on IVF showed increased success rates for IVF when acupuncture was administered around the time of the transfer itself. This is most likely due to it’s ability to increase uterine blood flow, reduce uterine contractions and balance the nervous system. Additionally, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can have even more of an influence over reproductive function when we see you in the months leading up to your active ART cycle.
This is because the eggs are “brewing” in the ovary for a few months (3-6) before they are recruited for an active cycle. Bringing blood flow and nutrition (through acupuncture, food and/or herbs) to them during this time can help to improve their vitality. This is not to say that the DNA of the eggs can be altered. Rather, the portions of development that do take place in the few months before recruitment can be positively influenced. The ovary’s capacity to respond to treatment can also be positively influenced.
Likewise, a spermatogenisis cycle (process in which sperm is made) is roughly 3 months. Therefore, issues pertaining to male factor are best addressed in the 3 months before an active cycle.
When you are undergoing IUI’s, we will be working to promote all 4 phases of the cycle, very similarly to when you are doing natural cycles. Some people are doing “Natural” IUI’s (without medications) while other are including some kind of medication in their cycles. Depending on your protocol, we will determine if acupuncture alone, or combined with herbs will be right for you. Weekly acupuncture treatment is recommended to encourage all 4 phases of the cycle. Some opt to include an extra session around the time of the IUI.
While prepping for an IVF cycle, we would typically see you once per week in the 3 months leading up to your active cycle. Sometimes herbal formulas are appropriate during this period. We will be working to balance hormones, improve uterine blood flow and address constitutional deficiencies during this time. We will be working with acupuncture, food and/or herbs to give your body the nutritional building blocks it needs to respond well to your ART protocol.
During the active cycle, we will see you twice weekly while you are on your stimulating medications, and time treatments around the retrieval and transfer as well. Herbs are not recommended while you are on multiple stimulating medications.
After your transfer, we will typically see you for one follow up treatment before your pregnancy test.
If you will be using a donor egg during your IVF protocol, there is less emphasis placed on ovarian response, of course. Instead, we are looking to balance hormones, improve circulation and prepare the uterus for implantation, as well as balance the constitution and regulate the nervous system. We work weekly for 1-3 months beforehand, depending on your case and see you twice weekly in the few weeks leading up to transfer. There is one follow up treatment between the transfer and the pregnancy test.
The schedule for an egg freezing protocol is very similar to IVF. We work in the 3 months ahead of the active cycle and see you twice weekly while you are on your stimulating medication. After your retrieval treatment, you may opt to discontinue treatments, as there will be no transfer for which to prepare you. You may opt to continue treatment if you are planning to do more than one egg freezing cycle.