Trying to Conceive with IVF
A steadily growing number of couples is now using ART (assisted reproductive technology) to try and conceive, infertility affects 1 in 6 couples. In 2017 almost 70,000 ART cycles were performed in Australia and New Zealand, many of these being IVF (in vitro fertilisation) cycles.
A typical IVF cycle involves stimulating a woman’s ovaries to produce multiple eggs, retrieving those eggs, which are then fertilised in the laboratory to create embryos. One of these embryos is transferred into the woman’s uterus 3 or 5 days after fertilisation. Extra embryos are frozen and if necessary thawed and transferred in a subsequent cycle.
IVF and Acupuncture
A lot of couples seek support in their IVF journey from an acupuncturist and acupuncture is now being used widely to enhance IVF treatment. Anyone going through IVF can utilise the services of an acupuncturist but make sure your acupuncturist is registered with AHPRA, has a CMBA number and has a special interest in fertility support.
Why are there conflicting research outcomes for Acupuncture and IVF?
Using acupuncture with IVF has been well researched over the past decade with conflicting results. Some of the problems that contribute to the discrepancy are:
there are many different types of acupuncture which cannot be compared to each other
traditional acupuncture diagnosis is not in line with orthodox diagnosis
in trials acupuncture is often standardised whereas in clinic treatments are individualised
no appropriate placebo to traditional acupuncture exists
What is involved in acupuncture during IVF?
It is most effective when acupuncture is started on a weekly basis about 3 months prior to the embryo transfer, however if you have already started your IVF treatment, it is not too late to start.
Acupuncture for Embryo Transfer
Apart from the regular weekly appointments, having acupuncture immediately before and after embryo transfer (on the same day) is most important. We understand the importance of having acupuncture on the actual day of transfer so we try as much as possible to accomodate for treatment, even if this means being there on a Sunday or public holiday.
After embryo transfer it is also recommended to continue weekly acupuncture until the pregnancy is well established (12 weeks). In case there is a history of miscarriage this is a very important time to continue receiving acupuncture.
Although the aim of the acupuncture is slightly different, these protocols are similar for fresh and frozen IVF cycles.
Do both partners need to get acupuncture when going through IVF?
In clinic it is very common for just the female to receive acupuncture, however it is estimated that 1 in 20 men have a fertility problem. If there is a male factor in play (low sperm count, poor quality or motility, sperm DNA fragmentation) it is highly recommended that both partners get acupuncture particularly when you are doing a fresh IVF cycle.
Do I need to take herbs?
During IVF cycles we do not recommend that women take herbs as we do not know enough yet about the interactions between the herbs and the fertility drugs. This is somewhat different for men and if needed they can be prescribed herbs.
When you are in between cycles or are giving the IVF a break, taking herbs for a short period of time will be considered to get the best possible outcome.
What is involved in an Acupuncture session for IVF?
Every session starts with discussing your current symptoms and overall health. To get further information we will then feel your pulse and have a look at your tongue. We decide on the points that we will be using that session and insert fine needles into those points. The needles will stay in place for 20-30 minutes during which you can rest and relax. After the needles have been removed you can get up again and continue your day.
What can I expect after my IVF acupuncture session?
Most people rest deeply whilst having acupuncture and feel very relaxed after the session. There is nothing in particular that you need to do or not do afterwards, just do what feels good to you. In the days after the treatment you will start to notice the positive effects the session has on your health and wellbeing. The effects are accumulative, that means that after more sessions the effects tend to last longer. We will discuss during your first session what is to be expected in your particular case and how many sessions will be needed.
Can I claim my acupuncture session on insurance?
Most Private Health Funds cover acupuncture however it is important to check your level of cover with your health fund prior to your treatment. We do have HICAPS facilities so if you’re covered you will only have to pay the gap.
What is the easiest way to book my acupuncture session?