Acupuncture helps couples prepare for pregnancy in a number of ways. It moves us towards “balance and harmony” in order to optimise health, relaxation and wellbeing. This is useful for both men and women because good general health and feeling relaxed and happy generally has a significant effect on fertility. As acupuncturists ideally we would like to see patients early on, before they try IVF or ultimately even before they think they have a fertility problem. Sometimes gentile treatment alongside some lifestyle or dietry advice is all that is needed.
Acupuncturists know that acupuncture increases the chances of success during IVF as well as optimizing natural fertility. One study said that alongside IVF it more than doubled a womans chances of having a baby. Sixteen years ago the Paulus (2002) study demonstrated excellent results. The paper, published in Fertility and Sterility, demonstrated a 42.5% pregnancy rate in the acupuncture and IVF group verses a 26.3% success rate in the IVF group.
Trials into acupuncture are expensive to run and, unlike drugs companies who fund research to pump their products, no one stands to profit that much from promoting acupuncture. This does mean that the efficacy of acupuncture for fertility is under appreciated and not known about as widely as it should be. So acupuncture has been shown to be effective during IVF but acupuncturists and their patients know that it is probably even more effective to optimize fertility outside of IVF.
Experience suggests that acupuncture may improve the growth of the follicles during IVF, helping to balance growth on each ovary. This will help to prepare the endometrium so that the correct thickness is achieved. Acupuncture can also reduce discomfort, constipation and bloating around egg collection; helping to prepare the body for transfer.
An additional benefit is that patients report feeling calmer and more relaxed, releasing endorphins.
Preparation for IVF
Acupuncture can be used in preparation for IVF, or in between failed IVF cycles. Men too can benefit from using acupuncture prior to and during IVF, particularly if there is male factor infertility or they have high stress levels.