Acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

It is often a big decision to move forward with assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization). It can be expensive, stressful and time consuming. With so much riding on your ART, why not do everything you can to maximize your outcome.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has at least 3 major roles to play in the field of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):

  • Further increase IVF success rates, including an increase in blood flow to the ovaries and uterus (see the Research Pages).
  • Decrease the side effects of the medications.
  • Getting the parent(s) in the best health possible so you can optimize your sperm and egg health and the health of your unborn child through pre-conception care.

When preparing for IVF, it is recommended that both partners who are contributing DNA to this child (both male and female) begin TCM treatment at least 3 months prior to egg retrieval or transfer. Oogenesis and spermogenesis cycles are approximately this long and it is ideal to begin working with the patient at the start of these cycles. Normally, you are seen once a week until the stimulation medications begin and then you are seen twice a week. Maya abdominal massage can be added in during this time as well and can also be very helpful in preparing for IVF.

Fertility MD to pregnant patient, "What were you doing differently this time? Patient,  "Acupuncture."

Putting the building blocks in place before your IVF schedule is wise, but sometimes not possible. If you don’t have three months, there is still much that can be done.  Here are the (basic) recommended acupuncture treatment plans for IVF, IUI, timed intercourse with ART: 

ACUPUNCTURE FOR FEMALE FERTILITY ENHANCEMENT WITH ART: 

During In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Prior to in vitro fertilization (IVF) until stimulation medications (3 months if possible) weekly 
During stim meds twice a week
Before transfer (0-3 days)  one treatment
After transfer (0-3 days) one treatment
5-7 days after transfer one treatment
During a Timed Intercourse/IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)/Natural Cycle
Prior to IUI/ovulation (3 months if possible) weekly
Before IUI/ovulation (0-3 days) one treatment
After IUI/ovulation (0-3 days) one treatment
5-7 days after IUI/ovulation one treatment

ACUPUNCTURE FOR MALE FERTILITY ENHANCEMENT WITH ART: 

During IVF, IUI, Timed Intercourse, Natural Cycle
Prior to retrieval/IUI/ovulation (3 months if possible)    every 1-2 weeks
1-2 days before ovulation/donation one treatment

We recommend continuing acupuncture through your pregnancy.  Frequency depends on your hCG numbers, your nausea level and other symptoms.
Acupuncture is sometimes covered for fertility by your health insurance.  Call your insurance company to verify benefits.

Citations:

  1. Data on IVF clinics show wide variation in success rate,   BMJ. 2002 August 31; 325(7362): 460.   PMCID: PMC1169457
  2. http://fertilitysuccessrates.com/index.html