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Acupuncture and IVF – embryo transfer and supportive treatment

Acupuncture IVF embryo transfer

Acupuncture and IVF – embryo transfer and supportive treatment

 

Many women contact the clinic after hearing about acupuncture helping to improve IVF outcomes, whether having done their own research or having been recommended by their fertility specialist.

 

When may acupuncture help?

Women usually hear about how acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer (ET) may help improve success rates, as this has been the focus of much of the research. Studies are still being conducted to look at different methods and timing to see how acupuncture may help alongside IVF. For example, research now suggests that more than three sessions of acupuncture around the time of embryo transfer may be preferable to fewer than three sessions. (1)

At this clinic, we generally prefer to work with women (and couples) before the embryo transfer day, for example during the stimulation phase or even before the cycle commences, depending on other factors such as stress or period pain. We also like to support women beyond the day of embryo transfer, during the anxiety-producing “two week wait”.

 

How can acupuncture help?

During the lead-up to the transfer, there is a lot going on – emotionally and physically.

If you’re in a medicated cycle, then you are dealing with blood tests, scans, injections and side effects. Acupuncture may be able to help with some of the side effects that you’re experiencing, such as migraine, headache, nausea or other pain.

In both medicated and non-medicated cycles, such as FETs (frozen embryo transfers), there is often a lot of mental to-and-fro. Many women have normal thoughts, worrying about what if the the cycle doesn’t work, and then they stress about having these “negative” thoughts, hoping that the IVF process isn’t being negatively affected. They then feel anxious to “do positive thinking”. It can be really exhausting.

Acupuncture may help with stress or symptoms of anxiety, and this could be acupuncture’s main contribution to helping some women who are going through the IVF process.

Your acupuncture session is your time. During the consultation you’ll debrief, reframe some worries and reclaim your centre. Then it’s time to simply receive. This is your time to enjoy acupuncture’s deep relaxation effects. Women often come out of their acupuncture session feeling refreshed and grounded.

 

Help for partners

Partners can benefit from acupuncture too. Fertility clinics often don’t address the experience of the partner, but this role certainly has its own stresses and challenges. When both partners are feeling relaxed and grounded, then you’re better able to support one another.

For male partners, we can help you to understand the research around factors that may be able to improve your health and fertility.

 

How often should I come?

Women normally come in once a week during the lead-up and after the transfer. If you’re particularly stressed or are feeling unwell with side effects, then twice a week may be more appropriate.

For the day of transfer, we usually suggest a session during the evening before (because most clinics have early morning procedures) and then during the day after your transfer. We have several practitioners available so you can normally book your sessions no matter what day your transfer will be. If we happen to be fully booked or otherwise unavailable for your embryo-transfer sessions, then we can refer you to someone in our trusted network of practitioners. We can also refer you if you would prefer to have your embryo-transfer sessions near your IVF centre.

 

Working with your innate biological intelligence

When body and mind are relaxed then we say “the Qi flows”. Qi is the flow of intelligence that perfectly integrates the continual unfolding of billions of changes within your body, moment by moment, day and night. It is what flows to a hurt area to stimulate healing, or self-correction.

Focusing on Qi, body-mind, relaxation and self-healing is the power and simplicity of Chinese medicine.

 

Further information or seeking treatment

If you would like to know more, you can:

 


1. Smith CA, Armour M, Shewamene Z, Tan HY, Norman RJ, Johnson NP. Acupuncture performed around the time of embryo transfer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reproductive BioMedicine Online. 2019;38(3):364-379. doi:10.1016/j.rbmo.2018.12.038


Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

Lois
Lois

This post is brought to you by Lois Nethery, acupuncturist and Chinese medicine herbalist at Ocean Acupuncture in Curl Curl on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

Disclaimer - Ocean Acupuncture is a natural medicine centre of independent health practitioners. The views expressed in this blog are the author's only and do not necessarily reflect the views of all Ocean Acupuncture practitioners. The information presented in this blog, and on the Ocean Acupuncture website, is for interest and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for health or medical information or advice. For health or medical advice, please consult your health professional.

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