Couple from above on a sofa

By Dr John Barnett

Patients call the Orlando Acupuncture office every week asking if acupuncture can help improve the success of IVF. The short answer is, “Yes acupuncture can help improve IVF outcomes!” Even though research clearly shows that acupuncture helps with IVF success, there’s more information that you should know. This article is all about the how, why, and when to do acupuncture along with IVF.

Let’s start with the most common question, When is the best time to start acupuncture for IVF? The ideal time to start acupuncture therapy is 3 months prior to starting any fertility treatment, especially IVF. This is because eggs and sperm both take about 90 days to develop, so starting acupuncture therapy in this time is ideal to improve egg quality. Acupuncture is a therapy, and much like exercise, getting acupuncture regularly and with the right frequency is necessary to get the best results. Just as with exercise, you wouldn’t expect to get six pack abs by going to the gym once per month. What if you are starting IVF in less than 3 months or you’ve already begun? It’s never too late to benefit from acupuncture therapy, but the sooner the better, so call your local acupuncturist who specializes in fertility and IVF support today!

“Ok, so if the best time to get acupuncture is now, how often will I need treatment?” Before and during IVF, thru the first trimester of pregnancy, acupuncture is generally done one to two times per week. Your acupuncturist will determine the optimal treatment regimen based upon your health, lifestyle, and where you are in the process. Most fertility specialists recommend acupuncture be done once per week for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Research has shown that acupuncture during pregnancy is a safe therapy for the discomfort, pain, and other symptoms that can accompany pregnancy.

The next question we hear frequently is, “Why do so many women and fertility specialists recommend acupuncture along with IVF?” The reality of IVF is that women often need to undergo multiple rounds of IVF before they have a baby. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, ASRM reports that only 40% of IVF cycles result in live birth. This process, especially if you have to do multiple cycles, can be both expensive and stressful. Acupuncture is recommended so frequently because it significantly enhances the chances of success, thus reducing the likelihood of multiple cycles, and actually lowering the total cost of IVF.

More and more research shows that acupuncture improves IVF outcomes. A 2019 meta-analysis of nine trials with almost 2,000 women found that acupuncture increased the live birth rate by 30%. These studies also found that acupuncture improved live births by 42% for women who had already had a failed IVF cycle. Multiple research articles in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility show that acupuncture done before and after transfer can improve pregnancy rates by 30% or more. Research published in the British Medical Journal has shown that acupuncture can improve IVF success rates by as much as 65%.

With the research being so clear, the other question that we hear frequently in the clinic at Orlando Acupuncture is, “How exactly does acupuncture help improve IVF birth rates by so much?” Well I’m glad you asked! Research shows that acupuncture has a positive effect and no adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes. Here is a list of some of the effects of acupuncture on fertility:

  • Acupuncture reduces stress and anxiety. This is so important because couples undergoing fertility treatments often experience immense amounts of stress. Stress is well known for being an impediment to fertility.
  • Acupuncture balances hormone production and the endocrine system.
  • Acupuncture improves blood flow throughout the body. Stress and aging cause a decline in blood circulation. Acupuncture can signal blood vessels to dilate, directing nutrient rich blood to areas such as the uterus and ovaries. This Increased blood flow may help the response to fertility medications, and ensure a thick uterine lining, setting up the ideal environment for implantation.
  • Acupuncture has been shown to improve egg and embryo quality.
  • Acupuncture can decrease inflammation that may be associated with infertility.

For over 20 years, Orlando Acupuncture has established itself as Central Florida’s leading fertility acupuncture clinic by providing specialized care for IVF patients. We use a research based approach to enhancing fertility and increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy. Besides acupuncture, one of the innovative therapies we use for fertility support is our Tibetan herbal foot soaks.

If you are new to acupuncture and want to know what to expect, you can read our post, 9-things-you-should-know-before-your-first-acupuncture-treatment

Dr. Barnett has trained and worked with clinics all across the country who specialize in fertility acupuncture. If you are having trouble finding an acupuncturist near you who specializes in fertility, feel free to contact our office for a referral.

Watch this video from Dr. Barnett talking about nutrition for fertility.

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