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.
The Lead Up To An IVF Cycle
Ideally your acupuncture treatment would begin a few weeks before you are due to start your IVF cycle. The aim of the acupuncture is to bring your body back to balance, both physically and emotionally. In a physical sense, we want your cycle to be as healthy and regular as it can be. If your periods are painful, heavy or clotted, that indicates a certain amount of stagnation in the uterus, which can be a very tangible impediment to getting pregnant. We would first work to try and shift this stagnation, which you would experience as fresher looking blood in the period, with less pain and less clotting. In addition we would work to build up your body's core energy to prepare you for the IVF cycle itself. On an emotional level, going through an assisted cycle can be a real rollercoaster. Another reason that acupuncture can be so helpful during IVF or IUI is that people generally find it to be very relaxing. If your emotions feel more in control, then you can focus your energies better on the cycle itself as well as coping with the usual day to day tasks.
On The Day Of Embryo Transfer
Most research studies were done giving acupuncture immediately before and after the embryo transfer, so now this is the usual way acupuncture is given for women going through IVF. We generally use the so-called 'Paulus protocol' points, which are the same ones used in the study described below. This study was important as it was the first major paper to suggest that acupuncture could positively affect the outcome of an IVF treatment.
Can acupuncture improve the chances of pregnancy in IVF?
In April 2002, the results of a study into the effects of acupuncture on women who were undergoing assisted reproduction therapy (ART) 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. At the time, these results were significant and suggested that acupuncture may indeed improve the pregancy rate for women undergoing ART. See later for more research that has been done as a result of this initial study.
Our Commitment to Patients Undergoing IVF/ICSI
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.
You can read some IVF related testimonials from past patients at the clinic.
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