Acupuncture is an effective and safe was to support your body during an IUI or IVF cycle, as well as attempts at natural conception. Wether you already have an IVF or IUI cycle scheduled, or if you are planning for the future, acupuncture can help prepare your body to be as receptive as possible for your fertility treatment and a healthy pregnancy.
When is the best time to start acupuncture therapy?
Ideally, beginning 2-3 months prior to an IVF or IUI cycle gives the best opportunity to address underlying health conditions that may be interfering with fertility and conception. Preparing the body for pregnancy gives the best chance of conception.
IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)
IUI is a common first step for couples who are having difficulty conceiving. Acupuncture works to support the body and enhance conception, regardless of the IUI being medicated or not. In either case, weekly treatments throughout the month of the cycle are recommended. If underlying conditions that interfere with conception are present, at least 2-3 months of acupuncture prior to the IUI cycle is recommended.
Preparing for IVF
The treatment protocols put in place by your reproductive endocrinologist or fertility specialist may vary. Commonly, once weekly treatments are recommended while preparing for an IVF cycle. Those patient who take the time to prepare for a cycle respond better to the medications, typically have fewer side effects from the medications, and improve their chances of conception with the cycle. One to three months of consistent treatments (depending on the underlying health conditions and cause of infertility) are recommended. During this preparation phase, treatments will focus on supporting the hormones that directly impact fertility, reduce stress levels, strengthen the immune system, and improve blood flow to the ovaries.
For some women, more frequent treatments may be recommended. This is typically the case for those women with high FSH, low AMH, are over the age of 40, or those who had a poor response to past IVF cycles.
IVF: Stimulation Phase
One to two treatments per week during the stimulation phase is generally recommended. During this time, acupuncture works to improve response to IVF medications, support growth of the uterine lining, increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, reduce the chance of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, support follicle development, and reduce stress and anxiety.
It is also beneficial to receive acupuncture treatment in the period of time between your retrieval and transfer. During this time, acupuncture works to improve blood flow to the uterus, reduce stress and anxiety, prevent cramping of the uterus, and support endometrial growth.
Acupuncture has been found to beneficial when performed immediately before and after embryo transfers. Ideally, the acupuncture treatment would be performed on site at your fertility center. If you are unable to receive acupuncture therapy the same day as your transfer, try to rest as much as possible the day of transfer. Keeping your stress levels low is important.
If you wish to receive acupuncture treatment on site at your fertility clinic, please obtain consent from your fertility specialist and confirm availability with Dr. Leighton.
If you do not have acupuncture treatment on the same day as your transfer, treatments can resume anytime following the transfer. During the two week wait between the transfer and first pregnancy test, acupuncture is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, and support the uterus and developing embryo.
Fertility Abdominal Massage
This 30 minute abdominal massage is a natural way to help support reproductive health, the menstrual cycle and fertility. Massage increases blood flow to the uterus, encourages healthy hormone balance, helps to break up scar tissue and adhesions, and increases circulation to the reproductive organs. Abdominal massage is beneficial for those with PCOS, endometriosis, blood clots with menstruation, hormonal imbalances, stress from infertility, abnormal menstrual cycles, constipation, scar tissue/adhesions, or unexplained infertility.
Fertility Doula Support
Dr. Leighton knows first hand the emotional and physical toll that fertility treatments can take on a person. Seemingly endless testing, blood draws, ultrasounds, supplements, medications and injections, and waiting. The constant questions from family and friends wanting to know when you are going to have a baby or the unsolicited advice to “just relax.” If only it were that easy. Dr. Leighton decided to complete official training as a fertility doula so that she could better support any person wanting to become a parent as they navigate the path to building their family.
It was with cycle monitoring, acupuncture, nutrition and supplement modifications, and a low dose medicated cycle that Dr. Leighton was able to conceive her daughter, Sophie. Fourteen months after Sophie was born, Dr. Leighton was incredibly surprised to find that she was pregnant again, with her son Jake, without the need for additional fertility support.