Fertility, Women's Health

Acupuncture and IVF: how often is enough?

By Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac

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At which stage of IVF is Acupuncture most important?


Acupuncture is fast becoming an important part of many women’s IUI and IVF protocols.  More and more women working with Reproductive Endocrinologists are actively seeking out acupuncture as an effective supportive therapy.

A number of fertility clinics recommend it as a natural therapy that can be safely used to help prepare the body alongside conventional fertility treatments. It is often lauded as a natural way to help relieve stress during this time.


When to start Fertility Acupuncture when doing IVF


3 to 6 months before an IVF cycle


If it is realistic for you to start early that would be ideal. In order to optimize a successful cycle and healthy pregnancy it is generally recommended to early.  This might mean revamping prenatal nutrition and supplements, adding stress reduction techniques and acupuncture treatments at least 3 months prior to the start of fertility treatment.  


Based on maternal age, fertility history and any other ongoing health factors a longer time frame 3 – 6 months preparation time might suggested instead.


Your practitioner will likely want to see you on a fairly regular basis and will customize a treatment plan based on where you are at and what is needed.  In general we like to see patients on a weekly basis, or perhaps every 2 weeks, often alternating or combing acupuncture with Arvigo® Therapy.  We also make recommendations for important self care strategies during this time of preparation –  these may include Arvigo® Therapy self care massage or castor oil packs.


1 to 2 months before starting IVF


If you have less time to work with it is still very beneficial to get acupuncture within this shorter time frame.  We would then recommend having more frequent acupuncture treatments in the 4-8 weeks prior to retrieval.


Depending on your Chinese Medicine diagnosis, fertility profile and your individual ultrasound results, acupuncture would be scheduled for once or twice a week up to embryo retrieval. Each woman’s treatment schedule may be different, but we generally recommend acupuncture treatments twice weekly in the days before and after retrieval.  


Acupuncture Pre and Post Embryo Transfer


Perhaps you are reading this only a few days from your transfer date.  If you can only get acupuncture  pre and post IVF transfer this would still be very supportive. 


There is a lot of research showing acupuncture to be of help with relaxation, blood flow and stress reduction on the actual day of transfer. If this is the only option available for you it is still something that can be beneficial, Ideally, it should be done close to the transfer time if possible.


We offer pre and post transfer acupuncture on location at your fertility clinic with advance notice.  Most fertility clinics will set aside a private area for clients and their acupuncturists. For some women that may not be ideal or you may prefer a longer treatment.  For this reason another option is acupuncture at our clinic the day (or morning prior) to embryo transfer and again the day after. 


Acupuncture in the 2 Week Wait and Beyond

Acupuncture is recommended in the ‘waiting period’ after your embryo transfer.  Here, the focus is on supporting your body and helping keep you relaxed as you wait.  Ideally at least 2 acupuncture treatments are suggested during this time.


In early pregnancy and onward, acupuncture is also safe and effective.  It can help with morning sickness symptoms, headaches and many other issues for which you may not wish to take medication.  Acupuncture at this stage is very gentle and treatments are usually shorter.  We usually suggest weekly treatments for the first trimester (12 weeks) if possible. 


As pregnancy progresses your acupuncturist will provide options for alternate positions (side lying or propped with pillows) so that you will be comfortable. Some women may wish to continue with regular visits throughout pregnancy or just come in as needed for certain issues.

Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac

Hi, I'm Barbara

I'm a Registered Acupuncturist and founder of Vital Bloom Wellness clinic.  My focus is on 100% natural solutions for reproductive, digestive and emotional health.

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