Acupuncture and IVF: When to start treatment
As you know by now, acupuncture makes a great compliment to an IVF cycle and can help improve pregnancy rates, and reduce miscarriage rates. But is there an optimal time to begin treatment? Short answer is yes, but the timing will vary based on cycle type and patient diagnosis.
Let’s back up and talk about dosage:
Acupuncture is a therapy based treatment, so it is usually done in a series of treatments to treat various symptoms. Much like exercise, it is best done regularly and frequently. You probably won’t get a six pack by hitting the gym once a month…. Acupuncture is the same way.
Another way to think about it is through the concept of dosing. Say you have a major headache and your doctor recommends 400mg of a medication to relieve it and you only take 50mg. You still have your headache. Does this mean the medication didn’t work? No. Any treatment has a proper dosage for maximum effectiveness and acupuncture is no different. In acupuncture, the dosage is the frequency of treatment. The more severe the symptoms, the more frequent the acupuncture to treat it.
In fertility, the concept of dosing is used to provide maximum benefit during specific times throughout the cycle with consideration for each couple’s situation and type of cycle.
Type of cycle and acupuncture start recommendations:
4-12 weeks prior to cycle.
The three month window of preconception acupuncture is recommended in cases of low ovarian reserve, poor egg or embryo quality. This window represents the full life cycle of the egg so we consider this an optimal time to use holistic treatments, dietary changes, and lifestyle changes to support your egg health.
One month is typically adequate for other diagnoses like endometriosis, male factor, polycystic ovarian syndrome, etc.
Frozen Embryo Transfer
4 weeks prior to the cycle start. In a frozen embryo cycle, 8-11 treatments before transfer is ideal to optimize results.
Natural Cycle IVF or Mini-stim IVF
4 weeks prior to the start of the cycle.
We refer to these treatments as preconception acupuncture. The treatments are designed to improve blood flow, regulate hormones, and reduce stress in advance of your cycle.
Here is a great Q&A session with the doctors at Long Island IVF and their acupuncturist going over the benefits of frequent treatment leading up to an IVF cycle.
Acupuncture During the Cycle
Once your cycle begins, we will increase our treatment frequency to twice weekly until your retrieval or transfer. For our purposes we consider the “start” when you begin ovarian stimulation medication, estrogen, or cycle day 1 in a natural cycle IVF.
For embryo transfer cycles, whether fresh or frozen, we will see you around the transfer itself and again 5-7 days after the transfer to support implantation.
All of these treatments work to support your body, help to improve outcomes and keep you comfortable and relaxed during your cycle. In research, these protocols show an increase in pregnancy rates, live birth rates, and a decrease in miscarriage.
For more information or questions on how this might work with your specific cycle, please give us a call, send an email (info@TennesseeReproductiveAcupuncture.com), or schedule an appointment online. We are always happy to help!