When it comes to IVF there are a few factors that we focus on to have a successful transfer and ongoing pregnancy. The embryo quality, which is dependent on the quality of the egg and sperm at the time of fertilization is one half of the equation and then uterine receptivity to allow for successful implantation and ongoing pregnancy is the other important part of the equation to a successful pregnancy. Genetically normal embryos when screened only successfully implant and continue as pregnancy up to 70% of the time. So, looking to build a healthy uterine lining leading up to transfer is also part of a comprehensive approach when planning a successful IVF cycle.
Chinese herbal formulas, particularly the formula Zi Shen Yu tai Wan, have been shown to be effective in the treatment of threatened or recurrent miscarriages and well as shown to improve implantation rates in patients undergoing fresh embryo transfers.
You can watch an interview with Dr. Paul Magarelli MD, REI on how and why he incorporates acupuncture, Chinese herbs, growth hormone, and supplements into his IVF practice.
The published random controlled trial, Effects of the Zishen Yutai Pill (Chinese herbal formula) Compared With Placebo on Live Births Among Women in a Fresh Embryo Transfer Cycle, concluded that “the Zishen Yutai Pill increased the rate of live birth after fresh embryo transfer compared with placebo.”
The addition of this Chinese herbal formula or a modification of it suits your individual needs can be beneficial because IVF cycles and super ovulations (controlled ovarian hyperstimulation cycles) can have the side effect of leading to precocious maturation of the endometrium such that it impairs successful implantation.
In this study using Zi Shen Yu tai Wan in a mouse study, they were able to show that it prevented precocious maturation of the endometrium and increased the expression of HOXA10, an important marker of uterine receptivity. I talked about HOXA10 in a past Vlog with Dr. Mark Perloe about PCOS (we were talking about myoinositol and metformin) and how HOXA10 acts like a handshake between the embryo and the uterus.
It seems in this study that ZYP acted like a modulator by keeping the lining in sync with a normal cycle and improving uterine receptivity.
In my practice for challenging cases (repeated unsuccessful IVF cycles) I often use Chinese herbs during the stim phase of their fresh IVF as well as during the 3 weeks of Estrace for a FET. Now, I am even more cognizant of these ingredients and incorporating Chinese herbs for more of my patients, so they have a better chance of success with their current cycle instead of waiting until we have had unsuccessful cycles before incorporating the Chinese herbs.
It is reassuring to see research catching up with clinical practice. Many of my fertility acupuncturist colleagues including us at Acubalance have incorporated Chinese herbs in our patients TTC naturally but not always with an IVF cycle at the request of the IVF clinic. I hope more research like this continues to be published so more women can feel confident having Chinese herbal formulas as part of their plan to increase their IVF success, whether fresh or frozen.