Acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Seattle, Tacoma & Bellevue Clinics
"What were you doing differently this time? "Acupuncture."
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.
How Acupuncture can help Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):
- Help increase IVF success rates (see the Research Pages).
- Decrease the side effects of the medications.
- Optimize sperm and egg health and the health of the unborn child through pre-conception care.
- Build resilience to help you persevere and stay in treament until successful.
Acupuncture Onsite For Embryo Transfer
With the current research, we recommend getting acupuncture onsite even if it isn't with us.
Check to see if your fertility clinic offers acupuncture for the day of embryo transfer. We currently offer onsite acupuncture at Poma Fertility in Kirkland, WA.
How acupuncture helps on the day of IVF transfer:
- Increase success rates, optimize patient outcomes (Smith 2019)
- Reduce stress - decrease cortisol levels which is known to decrease "time to conceive" (Eshkevari 2013)
- Help patients have a good experience (Smith 2011, de Lacey 2009)
Acupuncture For IVF Preparation
The research is strong for adding acupuncture when preparing for IVF to increase your chances of success.
- Overall, nine to 11 acupuncture sessions with Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine (WS-TCM) (including acupuncture) was associated with greater odds of live birth in donor and non-donor cycles (Hullender Rubin, Opsahl, Wiemer et al. 2015).
- Regulate and increase blood flow to the uterus to increase chances of implantation (Stener-Victorin 1996)
Both Contributing Partners Need to Prepare
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.
Doing acupuncture for 3 months before your IVF is wise, but sometimes not possible. If you don’t have that much time, there is still much that can be done. - Stephanie Gianarelli, Clinic Founder and Director
Acupuncture treatment plans for IVF, IUI, timed intercourse with ART:
For Women 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|
For Women During a Timed Intercourse / IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) or 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|
For Men, during IVF/ IUI /Timed Intercourse or Natural Cycle
|Prior to IUI/ovulation (3 months if possible)||every 1-2 weeks|
|Before IUI/ovulation (0-3 days)||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.
- Smith CA et al. 2019. Acupuncture performed around the time of embryo transfer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reprod Biomed Online. 2019 Mar;38(3):364-379.
- Hullender Rubin, Opsahl, Wiemer et al. 2015. Impact of whole systems traditional Chinese medicine on in-vitro fertilization outcomes. Reproductive Biomedicine Online. 2015 Jun;30(6):602-12.
- Stener-Victorin E, et al. 1996. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Human Reprod. 11(6):1314-7.
- Balk, J, MD MPH, et al. The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010 Aug; 16(3): 154–157.
- De Lacey, et al. Building resilience: A preliminary exploration of women's perceptions of the use of acupuncture as an adjunct to In Vitro Fertilisation, 2009. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 9: 5
- Eshkevari L, Permaul E, Mulroney SE. Acupuncture blocks cold stress-induced increases in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in the rat. 2013. J Endocrinology, 15;217(1):95-104.