Acupuncture and IVF – how often is enough?
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.
We often get the questions: “How often should I get acupuncture?” “When to start treatments?” and “At which stage is it most important?”
Acupuncture 3 to 6 months before Starting IVF
If it is realistic for you to start early that would be ideal. In order to optimize the chances of having a successful cycle and healthy pregnancy it is generally recommended to start proper nutrition, stress reduction 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.
Acupuncture 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
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.
Acupuncture to Support Pregnancy
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.
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