Our IVF Acupuncture Protocol: Improving Pregnancy Rates up to 60%

A painless and relaxing complement to your upcoming cycle that can increase your chances of success!

With the development of in-vitro fertilization, many families unable to conceive were suddenly given hope. Over the years, there has been great scientific interest in improving this procedure and success rates have increased greatly and currently hover right around 30% for women under 35.

While this is all great news, most will agree that a success rate of 30% in the youngest population of infertile women leaves a lot of room for improvement. Women going through or preparing for IVF treatment will wonder if there is anything else they can be doing to improve their chances. In addition to maintaining a healthy body weight and healthy lifestyle, acupuncture remains one of the most commonly sought after complementary treatments for couples going through IVF. With numerous research studies showing improved pregnancy rates, many doctors and fertility clinics are coming on board with combining their treatments with acupuncture.

In our clinic, over the last two years, we saw a pregnancy rate around 60% for all women who went through an IVF cycle. This number includes all ages and all types of transfers (frozen, fresh, and egg/embryo donor). These results are truly amazing and in line with what many other acupuncturists are seeing in their own clinics.

Just think, if all women going through IVF had acupuncture treatment we would have so many more success stories and the cost savings of not having to do repeated IVF cycles would be astounding!

We use a protocol inspired by the work of Dr. Magarelli and Diane Cridennda, and other fertility acupuncture research, that involves a series of treatments specifically timed throughout your IVF cycle to help support each phase of your cycle. This protocol has been shown to not only increase your chances of getting pregnant, but improves live birth rates as well! They found a reduction in the number of miscarriages, rates of ectopic pregnancy, and even lower numbers of multiple pregnancies when using this protocol in combination with IVF. The protocol has even been shown to help keep certain hormones at levels consistent with women who get pregnant on their own to support a healthy, successful cycle. After all, the ultimate goal is a take-home-baby!

We divided the protocol into 4 phases corresponding with your cycle. The bulk of the protocol begins when you begin your cycle medications, but it is recommended to being treatment designed to help prepare your body for your upcoming cycle about three months before your expected cycle. 

 

4 Phases of TNCRA’s IVF Acupuncture Protocol:

  1. Pre-Conception: Treatments in the 3 months preceding the cycle to manage stress, regulate hormones, and help your body prepare for the cycle. For more information about our preconception program click here
  2. Ovarian Stimulation: Treatments are done twice weekly along side your ovarian stimulation medications to help increase the quality and quantity of your eggs and reduce side effects.
  3. Transfer: A treatment given immediately before and/or after your embryo transfer to increase blood flow to the uterine lining, reduce uterine contractions, and manage stress. We are available 7 days a week for pre and post embryo transfer appointments. 
  4. Transfer Follow Up: One treatment 5-7 days post embryo transfer to support implantation, early pregnancy, and reduce stress. 

 

Throughout your treatment you can expect to feel more relaxed, get better sleep, and see a reduced number of medication side effects like bloating, mood swings, and cramping. Many of our patients report that the cycles they’ve done with acupuncture are ‘easeir’ than those done without. And, hopefully, at the end of it all you will get those long-awaited two pink lines!

TNCRA’s owner and acupuncturist, Sarah Prater, inserts needles into a patient.

We are comfortable working alongside any of Knoxville’s fertility doctors and have even seen patients from doctors in neighboring areas and out-of-state. We work closely with your cycle and will check in frequently to make sure the timing of your treatments is the most beneficial for your cycle. We truly love our work and want nothing more than for you to have the family of your dreams.

Please feel free to contact us by email or phone at 865-315-3845 if you have questions about your own cycle or are interested in scheduling an appointment. We also have online scheduling available.

 

Please feel free to reach out, we are always happy to help! 

 

 

 

We wish you the best of luck with your cycle!!

5 Things Your Fertility Acupuncturist Wants You to Know

New to acupuncture? We really don't care if you haven't shaved your legs.
New to acupuncture? We really don’t care if you haven’t shaved your legs.

Since many of our patients have never had acupuncture before, we put together this somewhat playful list of things to know that might help you be a bit more comfortable at your acupuncture appointment. Enjoy!

 

  1. We don’t care if you’ve shaved your legs (or if you shave them at all): Trust me, the last thing we’re thinking about when we’re looking for a point is how prickly or smooth your legs are. If I had a dime for each apology I’ve received for unshaven legs, I’d be rich! We do palpate to find the location for the needles, and that is the real focus. We’re usually trying to feel for a landmark along a bone or muscle to help us find the correct location for the point.

 

  1. We don’t notice your imperfections: People come in all shapes and sizes. I know we are all self conscious about certain things (hips, thighs, feet, belly….), and for many women weight can be a big issue. It can become an even bigger issue if you experience bloating with fertility treatments, or if you’re pregnant and your body is changing in new and unfamiliar ways. We think you look amazing! We’re here to help you along your journey to motherhood and are not thinking about your size, shape or anything else. However, if your weight might be an issue related to your fertility, we will talk about helping you make changes to get down to a healthy weight.

 

  1. We want to know if you’re afraid of needles: While the needles are painless and the treatment is very relaxing, we like to know if there is an underlying fear. There is a lot we can do to help alleviate fears such as answering your questions, explaining any aspect of the treatment in more detail, helping you breathe through needle insertions, or not mentioning needles at all! Our main goal during the treatment is to help you feel comfortable, so speak up! Trust us, after the first needle is put in, that fear will melt away!

 

  1. Tell us if you are uncomfortable during the treatment: If you’re too hot or too cold, let us know! If a needle feels uncomfortable, let us know! If you’re not sure how you can lay your arm comfortably without bumping a needle, ask and we’ll help you! I’ve even scratched a few itchy noses after needles were put in. (Why do noses always start itching the minute you can’t easily scratch them?) Anyways, in addition to receiving your acupuncture treatment, we want you to relax and enjoy it.

 

  1. It’s ok to share: We understand that infertility and pregnancy are deeply personal and it may be uncomfortable, hard, or even painful to share some of the details of your story. It is ok if you laugh, cry, or just don’t want to talk about something. We listen with open hearts and always have a tissue ready. We ask to better understand your history and to better understand you as a person. We also know things come up during our conversations that are considered “TMI” to many people. There is no such thing as TMI with your acupuncturist, so don’t ever shy away from something you feel is important because of what we might think. More often than not, what you share is incredibly helpful in giving you the best care. We are very used to talking about all things fertility and pregnancy related and want to use that information to help!

Combining East and West: 5 Keys to Successful Fertility Acupuncture

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Benefits of a fertility specialist and other tips for successfully adding acupuncture to your fertility treatment.

Please read the guest blog Sarah wrote for Circle Bloom. Circle Bloom has developed downloadable audio tracks to help foster a healthy mind-body connection while you are on your fertility journey. They have programs for all stages of the journey including fertility treatment, natural conception, pregnancy and beyond. We highly recommend their programs. Check out their free download here.

If you find yourself sitting in the waiting room of the fertility clinic, you’re probably wondering if you’re doing all you can to help your cycle be a success. You might have heard about some women adding acupuncture to their treatment cycles or even considered it yourself.

Acupuncture is a safe and effective way to increase your chances of conception and can be combined with IVF, IUI, and other fertility treatments. Many fertility clinics are even starting to offer acupuncture in-house! If you aren’t so lucky as to have such a clinic nearby, this article is for you!

At our clinic, Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture, we specialize in combining acupuncture and fertility treatments. We see many benefits to this approach such as:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Decreased medication side effects
  • Improved egg quality and quantity
  • Increased thickness and quality of the endometrial lining
  • Improved pregnancy and live birth rates
  • Prevention and reduction of uterine contractions
  • Decreased chance of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy
  • Encouragement of embryo implantation
  • Hormone regulation

Adding acupuncture to your already complicated fertility treatment schedule can seem like a daunting task, but luckily there is help! Read below for a few tips we’ve learned on how to best incorporate the two treatments:

  1. Try to find a fertility specialist in your area. An acupuncturist who specializes in fertility will be familiar with the type of treatment you are undergoing and may have even worked with your doctor. They will usually have flexible scheduling to allow for last minute changes in your treatment and even have extended availability for pre and post embryo transfer appointments.
  2. Call before your treatment starts. While acupuncture can be started at any point during a treatment cycle, many acupuncturists have protocols they use for each type of cycle. So calling a month or so before your cycle begins can allow you to plan for your appointments. At the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture, we often recommend treatments in the weeks before your cycle, but most of our protocols begin when the cycle starts.
  3. Keep communication open. Make sure your acupuncturist knows of any changes or problems that come up during your cycle. This can help us better time your appointments and allow us the opportunity to help treat side effects and issues, all to help your cycle become a success.
  4. Continue treatment during pregnancy. Assuming your treatment is a success, (fingers crossed!) acupuncture can be safely used to support a healthy pregnancy for you and your developing baby. We strongly recommend treatment during the first trimester, as this is the time when most miscarriages occur. It can also help alleviate morning sickness, fatigue, stress, and other symptoms. Many women will continue treatment throughout their pregnancies!
  5. Let your acupuncturist know your treatment results: We are very passionate about our trade and feel the highs and lows right along with you. So, please let us know how your cycle turns out! And we always welcome little ones for a visit!

Welcome and a little of our history….

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Welcome to Knoxville’s first and only acupuncture clinic specializing in fertility and prenatal wellness!

Hello and welcome to the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture’s first blog post!

I’d like to take a moment and introduce the myself, the clinic, and tell you a bit about the services here.

My name is Sarah Prater. I am the founder and acupuncturist at the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture. I recently moved here with my family from Indianapolis, IN. We came to be closer to the mountains and our family. As avid cyclists and outdoor lovers, we feel at home up in the Smokies. And, personally, I LOVE the warmer weather down south!

I studied pre-medicine at Indiana University in Bloomington and finished my bachelor’s in 2005. I went on to complete a master’s degree in Oriental Medicine in 2008 and have maintained a private practice ever since. I decided to become an acupuncturist instead of continuing on to medical school gradually during a time of self reflection. I was suffering from some health issues and had discovered that my diet, lifestyle, activity level, and some alternative treatments had such an impact on how well I felt and how well my medications and other treatments were working. I thought of my future patients and how I wanted to instill this knowledge in them so they could help themselves feel as I did! Over time, and with the guidance of a few mentors, I decided to pursue a career in Chinese Medicine.

In my early years of practice, I began to realize how much I truly loved working with families trying to conceive. Nothing beats a patient bringing their new bundle of joy into the office for a quick visit! I also realized the clinical benefit that acupuncture treatment could have on someone undergoing fertility treatment. Aside from increasing pregnancy rates, acupuncture was helping my patients reduce side effects, stress levels, and making each cycle a little easier to go through. Research in integrative fertility shows acupuncture can decrease miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and increase overall live birth rates. Once pregnant, it can help a woman feel more comfortable during her pregnancy and have a faster, easier birth with reduced interventions. It seemed my specialty had found me!

After deciding to specialize in fertility and prenatal wellness, I was able to focus my efforts on meeting the needs of my patients by offering flexible scheduling (as the body cannot be reliably put on a calendar), treatments around embryo transfer and developing protocols that work with a woman’s cycle, whether natural, medicated, IVF or IUI. It also afforded me the time to be able to stay current with research in the field, which is something I truly value.

I am so excited to be bringing my passion here to Knoxville! The Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture is our area’s first and only fertility and prenatal speciality clinic. We are truly built from the ground up to be able to work alongside your treatment cycle and (hopefully!) pregnancy.

It is my sincere hope that all families experiencing fertility challenges will be able to realize their dream and we are here to help.

In the future, this blog will serve as a voice for our clinic in addition to Facebook and our website. We will post clinic updates, case studies, research, patient guides and tips and anything else that we feel will be of service to you, our patients.

We truly look forward to working with you! Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to set up treatment with your cycle or during your pregnancy. We are happy to answer your questions and find a treatment that is right for you.