Acupuncture has been used for over 2,000 years to manage health problems and to support fertility. There is a large body of experiential data endorsing the supportive use of acupuncture for fertility. Over the past 15 years an increasing number of scientific studies have explored the use of acupuncture to enhance fertility and to increase the success of assisted conception procedures including in vitro fertilisation (IVF). While some studies have not found a benefit of acupuncture, a large number have found an increase in the successful outcomes of IVF when women had acupuncture alongside the IVF procedure.
Acupuncture has clearly been shown to have specific effects on a number of factors which are crucial to the success of conception and continuation of pregnancy. These effects include:
- Increasing the thickness of the uterine lining
- Increase of blood flow to the pelvic organs
- Reduction of oxidative stress which may influence egg and sperm quality
- Increasing ovarian response to ovarian stimulation
- Reducing uterine contraction
- Balancing the immune system (e.g. cytokines) thus creating a more favourable implantation environment
- Reducing serum adrenaline (cortisol) and anxiety levels (crucial for fertility)
- Improving sleep which reduces inflammatory processes
Acupuncture in preparation for IVF
In order to maximise the health of women and men for optimal conception it is advisable to start acupuncture 2-3 months prior to beginning IVF. During this time acupuncture treatments focus on the improvement of the environment of growing follicles and sperm. This enhances the potential for producing a higher quality of gametes (egg and sperm) for IVF.
If you would like to discuss this further, please get in touch with us so we can arrange a call with our acupuncturist.
Acupuncture during IVF
Experience has shown that acupuncture greatly helps women to cope much better with assisted conception treatments, which in turn promotes a successful outcome. In general, we recommend 4-5 acupuncture treatments during the IVF procedure, one acupuncture session during down regulation, two sessions during stimulation one session on the day of the embryo transfer and one session 5-10 days after the transfer.
Acupuncture during pregnancy
Acupuncture is very safe when used by a fully trained acupuncturist (completing at least 3600 hours of training at degree level, see www.acupuncture.org). It can also safely be used during pregnancy, when drug treatments may be excluded or need to be used sparingly. The main applications during pregnancy include:
- To alleviate anxiety and worry
- To help with mood swings
- To enhance sleep
- To deal with physical problems (nausea, pain of the pelvis, back or ribs, heart burn, hypertension, gestational diabetes, anaemia, oedema, itching, small foetus)
- Birth preparation (ligaments, stamina, cervical ripening, anxiety, breech and other malposition’s of the baby); acupuncture has been shown to reduce induction procedures and emergency caesareans.
Pia studied acupuncture at the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) in London with an added intensive course in the outpatient Acupuncture department of the Jiangsu Provincial Hospital of TCM, Nanjing, China. Pia undertook further postgraduate training as clinical supervisor at CNM and completed an intensive course in Tuina at Westminster University. Through further education Pia acquired specialist knowledge in acupuncture for fertility, conception and pregnancy and has many years of experience working in a fertility focused acupuncture clinic treating women who were trying to conceive naturally or were going through assisted conception. She has also experience in treating men for fertility problems. She is a member of the British Acupuncture Council, the UK's main regulating body for traditional acupuncture as well as the Acupuncture Childbirth Team (ACT) London. Previously Pia graduated as a pharmacist and completed a PhD in biochemistry in Zurich (Switzerland) after which she worked as a research fellow in biomedical research at Imperial College, King’s College and University College London. Pia is very happy to be working in collaboration with the GENNET City Fertility clinic.
Sue is a licensed and fully insured acupuncturist and a member of The Acupuncture Society. She studied at the University of Westminster where she gained a BSc (Hons) in Traditional Chinese Medicine/ Acupuncture. Sue went on to study further at the University of Shanghai, China where she worked in a district hospital alongside Dr Huang, as well as attending specialist clinics in gynaecology. Through further postgraduate training Sue has acquired specialist knowledge in acupuncture for fertility and pregnancy and gained experience through working with many women who were trying to conceive naturally or were going through assisted conception. She is a member of the Acupuncture Childbirth Team (ACT) London. Sue runs a private practice in Walthamstow and also volunteers as an acupuncturist at St Josephs Hospice in Hackney. Sue is very happy to be working in collaboration with the GENNET City Fertility clinic.