Medical Acupuncture and IVF

Acupuncture / Female Health / Fertility / IVF Treatment

Medical Acupuncture and Fertility

Acupuncture is a healing system from China that dates back over 3,000 years. The World Health Organisation recognises acupuncture to be an effective therapy for over 40 conditions including gynaecological conditions and fertility issues. We use an evidence based approach towards medical acupuncture treatments. Although acupuncture has been successfully used to treat fertility for thousands of years, the first Western medical research was published in 2002 by Paulus. The study showed 42.5% of patients were successful in conceiving through incorporating acupuncture and IVF. This was compared to the 26.3% that used IVF by itself. Evidence was again shown in the British Medical Journal meta-analysis, published in 2008 which reported a 65% increase in pregnancy success rates, 85% increase in on-going pregnancy and 91% increase in live births.

This overwhelming evidence has meant that acupuncture in conjunction with IVF is now a standard treatment, while research continues to find other benefits. Patients also report feeling less stress and anxiety and an increased feeling of wellbeing when incorporating medical acupuncture into their fertility program.

How Medical Acupuncture improves IVF success rates:

There are a lot of ways in which medical acupuncture can help IVF. To explain it simply, when you get acupuncture tiny needles are inserted into your body. This relaxes the nervous system, producing endorphins and less of the stress hormone cortisol is released into your blood. This in turn allows increased and improved blood flow into your reproductive organs. As a result more oxygen and nutrients are supplied and IVF medication gets more easily into the uterus and ovaries. Through our unique approach we can ensure your IVF journey is as effective and as stress free as possible.

Medical Acupuncture therefore can be used to help achieve the following:

Reducing uterine inflammation – This encourages the uterus to hold the embryo and prevent detachment from uterine wall.
Increasing blood flow – Beneficial for improving endometrial growth and the supply of nutrients to your developing baby, ensuring healthy development.
Improving ovarian function – Important for the development of good quality eggs.
Decreasing uterus contractions – Important after embryo transfer to improve embryo attachment to the uterine wall.
Reducing stress – This is one of the most important reasons for receiving acupuncture.
Regulating the immune system.
Improving male semen – To produce better quality and
quantity of embryos.

Frequently Asked Questions about IVF and Acupuncture:

When should I begin acupuncture?

Ideally, you should begin three months prior to embryo transfer. At this stage it is important to develop a good endometrial lining with acupuncture to promote an increase in blood flow. If egg production is a problem, treatments may be advised to be started before this. We will work with you at any stage of your IVF process so you receive the best possible treatment plan.

How often should I have treatments?

It is recommended to have treatments at least once a week leading up to the embryo transfer. On the day of transfer it is important to have a treatment immediately before and after the transfer to help the body support the embryo and importantly, reduce stress. These two treatments alone significantly enhance the success rates of IVF.

Should I continue to have acupuncture treatments in the weeks after IVF treatment and if I treatment is successful.

Scientific studies have shown that acupuncture almost doubles the success rate of on-going pregnancy and live births. It is therefore highly advisable to continue acupuncture treatment in the weeks after IVF treatment, usually on a weekly basis. After the first trimester we normally continue treatment but at less frequent intervals – perhaps once or twice a month.

How effective is it?

Research has reported that acupuncture increases the pregnancy rates of IVF, by as much as 65%, as reported in the British Medical Journal. In the same article, acupuncture was shown to improve ongoing pregnancy by 85% and live birth by 91%. We see similar results to these in clinical practice every week.

Should the male partner also be treated?

Scientific research shows 40% of problems with fertility originate in the woman and 40% in the man, so men may also be interested to know that acupuncture has been shown to significantly improve sperm viability, mobility, integrity and fertility. Acupuncture treatments for both partners can increase success rates.

Will it hurt?

Acupuncture needles are much finer than those used for injections and so are relatively painless. They are also used only at a superficial depth. Some people will report that they don’t feel anything at all, whilst others will report some minor tingling sensations. Acupuncture is incredibly relaxing and people will often fall asleep during treatment.

Is acupuncture covered by health insurance?

Yes most private health schemes cover acupuncture when performed by a properly qualified practitioner. Dermot O’Connor is registered with the VHI, Aviva, Vivas, Quinn Health as well as a number of other private insurance schemes. We suggest that you check with your

Leave a Reply