Tanya Smith

Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Cultivate the soil before planting the seed

IVF Success with Acupuncture

If your fertility journey has brought you to IVF treatment, you likely have a very real experience of just how difficult it can be to get pregnant. As you prepare for your IVF treatment, there are a few things I would recommend to improve your chances of success. I have worked with many clients in preparing for IVF and have noticed that those who make the time to do these things tend to be the most successful. By taking care of themselves, they create the space to receive new life.

For women, preparing for IVF can be a time of incredible pressure, with frequent visits to the fertility clinic as you try to get your body to respond well. You’re going to need a bit of extra support to come through! This pressure, combined with the side effects of hormonal medications, leads to stress becoming a very real part of the equation. It’s both incredibly difficult and incredibly important to do what you can to relax. Acupuncture and some lifestyle modifications can help.

In the month before your IVF/ICSI cycle, I follow an evidence-based acupuncture protocol to prepare your body for embryo transfer. Treatments are scheduled twice a week during the four weeks prior to egg retrieval. Research has shown that acupuncture helps improve the success rate of IVF/ICSI by:

  • Improving blood flow to the ovaries and uterus
  • Improving response to hormonal stimulation
  • Alleviating possible side effects of fertility medications
  • Improving the thickness and perfusion of blood to the uterine lining
  • Calming the uterus to help prepare for and support implantation
  • Reducing stress and promoting relaxation

As part of this preparation time, I will set up a specialized diet plan for you, specific for your body and emphasizing fertility enhancing foods. I also encourage you to use the Restoring Fertility Yoga DVD’s if you are not already doing fertility yoga. If there was ever a time to pull out all of the stops and try everything, supporting your body through IVF is it!

Men also need to prepare for IVF, even if there are no impaired sperm parameters. The stronger and healthier the sperm are, the more likely everything will be in place for success.
I recommend regular acupuncture treatments during the three months prior to an IVF/ICSI cycle and then scheduling visits twice a week for the two weeks prior to your partner’s egg retrieval. These acupuncture treatments may be supplemented by the use of Chinese herbal medicine, dietary/lifestyle counseling and nutritional supplements.

If you are in Toronto, on the day of embryo transfer, I will come to the fertility clinic to do a treatment before and after the embryo transfer. This is one of the most highly researched areas of acupuncture fertility medicine and studies show acupuncture before and after embryo transfer can increase the success rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to 42%, compared with 26% in the control group.

Many fertility clinics have special rooms set up for acupuncture as it is becoming so commonly used!

Using acupuncture and Chinese medicine to help you prepare for IVF can help both improve your chances of success and help make your experience more pleasant. Many clients have come to me afterward and thanked me for the support that they felt made all of the difference!

2 Responses to “IVF Success with Acupuncture”

  1. Marisa says:

    Hi Tanya. Came across your article while researching for the “restoring fertility” DVD. I have seen many conflicting comments on using this DVD while going through IVF. You state in your article that you do recommend it. Is it only perhaps prior to the treatment starts or to. Only do the follicular stage of the DVD.

    Any insight you can provide would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.

    • acutanya says:

      Hi Marisa,

      Great question! I think the DVD series is designed to work with a natural cycle, but may be too intensive on the ovaries during an IVF cycle. During the IVF cycle, the ovaries tend to swell and get heavy for their supporting ligaments and twists are contraindicated.

      I would certainly use the Restoring Fertility DVD series in preparation for an IVF cycle and right up through the menstrual phase of the treatment cycle, but then switch to using acupuncture only through the stimulation phase of the IVF cycle.

      I hope that helps!

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