How does Fertility Acupuncture Support IVF?
I am frequently contacted by people in the few weeks prior to starting IVF to ask about whether I can help support them through their IVF cycle. My answer to this is always a lot more complicated than a simple yes or no.
When is the Best Time to use Acupuncture to Support IVF?
I think the biggest impact I have on IVF is when I can treat someone for a few cycles before IVF - only then do I really have a chance to improve the environment for the developing eggs, make substantial improvements to the whole energy and hormonal balance of their menstrual cycle, and make significant improvements to the blood and tissue fluid circulation around the ovaries and the uterus. It is also worth bearing in mind that the eggs used on a cycle starting in the next week or so will have been quietly maturing for months, there is only the last few weeks of maturation left to run so there is a limit to how much of a difference I can make to egg quality in such a short time.
How Does Acupuncture Work Alongside IVF Medication?
If I start to treat someone just as they start IVF, it is a time when the hormones are about to be taken over by IVF meds so my influence on the actual hormone system is limited. IVF takes care of the egg-meets-sperm process, thickens the womb lining and makes sure that the blastocyst (5 day old embryo) is in the right place at the right time for implantation. Acupuncture has more of a supportive role to play, it can make a huge difference to how well you cope with IVF from both a physical and emotional perspective.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is now.
So What Can Acupuncture Do During an IVF Cycle?
During an IVF cycle, focus shifts to supporting someone's body to respond better to the drugs, and easing negative side-effects the drugs. Some people have unpleasant side-effects from the IVF medication such as hot flushes, headaches and digestive issues - acupuncture can help relieve many of these symptoms and keep the body functioning smoothly which can also help to reduce the risk of OHSS. One of the most important times for me to treat someone is after egg harvest, before embryo transfer - there is so much to do in this short window of time to help encourage your body to heal from the egg harvest operation, to detox from the anaesthetic and to help someone to reach a state of calm, healthy loveliness in time for the embryo transfer!
More Than Just Physical Support . . .
One of the most important roles for me when I am supporting someone through the IVF process is to be in a position to offer emotional support, to share my knowledge and expertise to help someone to feel more relaxed through what is undoubtedly one of the most stressful of times. My level of knowledge is extensive and I share this as much as possible with clients to help them to understand what is happening and why. This is really empowering for them and something that my clients deeply appreciate. Amid the injections, the scans, the complicated jargon, it can be such a relief to come for acupuncture, to be able to talk about everything and get a much needed relaxation boost; a bit of acupuncture can really help you to cope better with the stress of the 'two week wait'!
The earlier I can start to treat someone, the more time there is to develop trust and a good working relationship to enable me to support them as well as I can.
So What Is My Advice About Using Acupuncture To Support IVF?
If you want to use acupuncture to support IVF, it will have the greatest impact if you have regular acupuncture over 3 cycles prior to egg harvest.. In a perfect world, the acupuncture alone will be enough to encourage your body to fall pregnant naturally, but at the very least evidence suggests it can improve the chances of a successful round of IVF. It does this by improving the quality of your eggs, decreasing your risk of early miscarriage and helping your body to react more appropriately to pregnancy.
However it is never too late to start - if you are imminently due to start IVF, there are still lots and lots of good reasons to use acupuncture to support the process, it can make it easier to cope with both physically and emotionally.
If you would like to find out more, or discuss your situation with me, please get in touch.