If you are already undergoing conventional treatment for fertility, our treatment can be viewed as truly complementary. We embrace an integrated approach to health and medicine, and will do whatever we can to help support your ongoing treatments. As well as enhancing fertility itself, acupuncture can be very helpful in reducing any unwanted side-effects of conventional medication, as well as giving your energy a boost. It is also great for calming any troubled emotions, worries or anxiety.
We understand the many stresses encountered by people having assisted reproduction and have worked with patients who have been through all of the major fertility clinics in London (e.g. The Lister, ARGC, CRGH, Bart's, Guy's etc). Women who come to us for complementary treatment usually find that they feel much more relaxed and in control if they have acupuncture during an assisted cycle.
Embryo transfer occurs within 5 days of egg collection, although it is usually on day 3 or day 5. Ideally, consultants like development to continue to blastocyst stage before transferring the embryo back, but sometimes circumstances require an earlier transfer, with very short notice given by the clinic. This can be a very stressful time, so we make every effort to ensure that we can see you both before and after embryo transfer on the day that you need, even if your transfer is on a Sunday or bank holiday.
Ideally your acupuncture treatment would begin a few months prior to your IVF treatment. We would work with you to improve and regulate your menstrual cycle, nourish the uterus and endometrium and attempt to increase the quality of the eggs. Closer to the IVF date, we would further nourish the uterus and ovaries so that more good quality follicles can be extracted.
In the study described below, it was found that the chances of pregnancy were increased if acupuncture treatment was given just prior to and then just after the IVF treatment itself. The treatment just before helps to invigorate the blood flow to the pelvic region to increase receptiveness to the embryo. The treatment after helps to stabilise the body and help to keep the embryo safe. It also helps to calm and relax the uterus so that the egg is not rejected.
In April 2002, the results of a study into the effects of acupuncture on women who were undergoing assisted reproduction therapy was published in 'Fertility and Sterility', the official publication of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (Fertility and Sterility vol. 77 (4), pp. 721-724 (2002)).
The researchers' aim was to determine the effects of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate by comparing a group of patients receiving acupuncture treatment before and after embryo transfer with a second group receiving no acupuncture. The acupuncture points chosen were selected according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
160 patients took part in the trial and were randomly assigned to one of the two groups. 34 out of 80 (42.5%) patients in the acupuncture group became pregnant, as opposed to 21 out of 80 (26.3%) in the control group. These results are significant and suggest that acupuncture does indeed improve the pregancy rate for women undergoing ART.
FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is an important hormone involved in the natural mentrual cycle as well as in drug-induced stimulation of the ovaries. It is the main hormone involved in producing mature eggs. When a woman goes into menopause she is running out of eggs in her ovaries, and the brain senses that there is a low oestrogen environment so more FSH is released from the pituitary gland in an attempt to stimulate the ovaries enough to produce a good follicle and oestrogen. Once a woman has gone through the menopause, FSH levels are permanently elevated.
A baseline FSH test on day 3 of the cycle gives an overall indication of the 'ovarian reserve'. Elevated FSH generally represents a reduced egg supply and it may also reflect a compromise of egg quality. Many fertility clinics require that FSH levels are below a certain level (usually 11 or 12) as a pre-requisite for IVF treatment.
From the point of view of Chinese medicine, high FSH levels going into the menopause indicate a deficiency in kidney yin energy, which is normally needed to make good, fertile eggs. Acupuncture can certainly help to nourish and support the kidney yin energy, but high FSH levels could also be related to factors such as the movement or quality of qi and blood in the uterus, or the emotional state of the patient. Acupuncture can help to regulate the movement of qi and blood and it can help to bring the emotions back into balance. This in turn can help to stabilise FSH levels in the body.
If you have any particular questions about our fertility service, then please use our contact form and we will do our best to answer your queries.
"I'm 38 years old... had a few failed
IVF and IUI attempts and then gave up trying... I am now 14 weeks pregnant with twins...
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this incredible turn around is in part due to
the acupuncture treatment."
"Our beautiful baby daughter was...
conceived through our first go at IVF (ICSI), despite my treatment producing only three eggs,
and problems with my husband's sperm quality and motility... I totally believe that the
acupuncture treatments we received played a significant part in her birth."
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