How much will Acupuncture boost my IVF results and how many treatments do I need? - The research revealed.

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As an acupuncture and integrative wellness clinic that specializes in reproductive health, you can imagine we get this question quite often. Many patients come to us either starting their fertility journey, about to embark on their IVF journey, or are on their 6th round. Wherever you are, acupuncture can help. As a clinic that has been in this field for 20+ years, we’ve obviously seen acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and naturopathy do wonders for our fertility patients. But what does the actual science say?

 

A recent meta analysis that studied the results of 1,980 women showed that acupuncture increased pregnancy rates by 28-32%, ongoing pregnancy rates by 42%, and live birth rate by 30% when compared to no acupuncture at all. It showed the most improvement with more acupuncture treatments as well as doing transfer day acupuncture onsite at the IVF clinic. (Acubalance offers IVF acupunctyre and laser acupuncture onsite at Olive Fertility Centre).

 

Using the Paulus protocol, the live birth rate was 56% in the acupuncture group compared to 35% in the group that did not have acupuncture. Live births associated with acupuncture were significantly higher in the 35-37 and the 38-40 age groups. Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer also helps with IVF-related anxiety

 

What about traveling off site of the fertility clinic to get your acupuncture at a separate clinic? We actually advise against that. One study found that going from acupuncture clinic to fertility centre to acupuncture clinic was actually detrimental to the success of the transfer and decreased pregnancy rates (probably due to the stress of making it to different appointments on time). This is why we travel on site for Olive transfers and recommend booking an appointment within 48 hours after your transfer for other fertility clinics in Vancouver.

 

Traditional Chinese medicine (including acupuncture, Chinese herbs, cupping, diet therapy, supplements, or moxibustion as appropriate to the individual) was associated with more pregnancies and births (85.7%) compared to no treatment at all (62.5%). In this particular study, there was an average of 12 acupuncture visits. In another study, 3 or more visits were associated with significantly more live births and fewer miscarriages compared to just embryo transfer day acupuncture. 

 

Although 1 treatment can definitely do something (one study showed that one treatment was enough to improve markers of blood sugar in one study of women with PCOS), 8 sessions over 4 weeks improves blood flow to the uterus. 

 

What about all of the studies that say acupuncture doesn’t do anything? We don’t deny their existence. But it’s important to understand how to pick apart these studies to determine their strength. The problem with many studies is that they are comparing acupuncture to sham, or fake, acupuncture to see what the benefits are. The problem with sham acupuncture is that in many cases, they are still stimulating the acupuncture point to a certain degree. One study showed that sham acupuncture’s effectiveness was about 20% more than a typical placebo, meaning it’s not an accurate comparison to real acupuncture. Another study showed that sham acupuncture needling caused the body to release endorphins like regular acupuncture. Many studies come to the conclusion that acupuncture is not significantly effective when compared to the sham acupuncture group when in fact, both groups can show improvement compared to the control group. This result prompts many studies to falsely conclude that acupuncture is ineffective.

 

Conclusions

To conclude, 9-12 sessions of acupuncture along with on site transfer day acupuncture gave the best results when undergoing an IVF cycle. I personally tell my patients I like to see them weekly for 6-8 weeks before their egg retrieval. During the injections, I like to see my patients twice per week for those 1-2 weeks. At least 6 sessions of acupuncture (including transfer day) are associated with more live births than just transfer day acupuncture when preparing for an embryo transfer. Of course, getting an individualized treatment plan is ideal. We customize our treatment plans to our patient’s specific needs to get the most optimal results.

 

Curious to learn more? Give us a call at 604-678-8600 to schedule an initial consultation or free 15 minute discovery call.

 

Learn more about IVF acupuncture >> 

Laser for Fertility Appraoch >>

 

In health,

 

Allison Locke, R.TCM.P, R.Ac, OBAAM, FABORM, RYT

 

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