Fertility Acupuncture

Acupuncture and IVF

I have treated many couples undergoing Assisted Reproductive Techniques (including treatment with ovulation induction, IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) in a variety of circumstances including same-sex couples, donor eggs, donor sperm and surrogates and I have repeatedly seen the positive impact that acupuncture can have at this difficult and stressful time. There is no doubt in my mind that acupuncture and IVF in combination can offer an extremely effective treatment for couples struggling with infertility.

Each acupuncturist has their own way of working, but I recommend the following based on published research and my experience of what seems to work best for patients:

Before IVF treatment begins: Consistent acupuncture can be an excellent preparation before the start of IVF treatment. Ideally I recommend a three-month period of treatment leading up to an IVF cycle to ensure that we have sufficient time to prepare and correct any underlying issues before the IVF cycle begins, particularly where the patient is over 35 and/or has had previously unsuccessful attempts at IVF.

Down-regulation: This is the phase of treatment in a “long protocol” IVF cycle where patients are given medication by their doctor to suppress their natural hormones and allow for greater control over the treatment cycle. Acupuncture can moderate any uncomfortable side-effects of the down-regulating medication, such as hot flushes, irritability, anxiety, disturbed sleep and excessive thirst and sweating and also help to support the patient emotionally.

Stimulation: During this phase of treatment medication will be prescribed by your clinic to stimulate the ovaries to produce as many ovarian follicles as possible. Acupuncture can help to complement the body’s response and thicken the endometrium. A 2012 meta-analysis of research found that acupuncture administered during the ovarian stimulation phase significantly increased clinical pregnancy rates and live birth rates and this increase was greater than if acupuncture was only given on the day of embryo transfer. Some acupuncture protocols during stimulation may also help to increase endometrial thickness. I do not give a treatment in the 36 hours between administering your trigger injection and egg (oocyte) collection. 

Egg Collection: I find that acupuncture between egg collection and embryo transfer can be very useful, as it calms the mind during the anxious waiting period before transfer and if you are suffering from mild to moderate OHSS can be very useful to counteract some of the unpleasant symptoms you might be experiencing. Please note that any symptoms of OHSS should always be reported immediately to your clinic and monitored closely. 

Embryo Transfer: Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer has been shown to increase pregnancy rates. I usually follow the protocols used in a randomised controlled trial carried out in Germany in 2002 which found that a pregnancy rate of 42.5% was achieved when acupuncture was carried out on the day of embryo transfer, compared to a pregnancy rate of 26.3% when women did not receive acupuncture on the day of transfer. For a variety of reasons it is not always possible to have a treatment on the day of transfer (although I always try my best to see a patient on the day or refer to a colleague) and it is important to remember that in the German research mentioned above patients had not had the benefit of acupuncture prior to the date of transfer.

Post-Transfer: In certain cases I recommend a gentle treatment to help patients through the “two week wait’, particularly, if there is a history of several previous failed cycles, but, as a general rule I do not treat during this phase of treatment.

“My whole experience with Olivia was an incredibly positive one, not only did I get pregnant with twins that are now 11 days old but I really felt that she did everything in her power to make it happen. She was always at the end of the phone or email to answer any questions and fit in appointments at short notice. I truly believe that I wouldn’t have got pregnant without Olivia’s help. I am forever in her debt.” (Nicky)

If you are interested in finding out more about Fertility Acupuncture in Surrey please contact Olivia Shaw.

Enhancing Fertility Naturally

A combination of acupuncture and dietary and lifestyle advice can be used very successfully in many cases to address both male and female infertility. The most common conditions that I see affecting fertility are:

At your first appointment I take a very thorough case history, including the results of any biomedical tests that you have undergone, such as hormone levels or the results of a recent sperm test. If you have not had your hormone levels tested or had a sperm test in the preceding three months, then I will usually refer you for these tests at the beginning of treatment so that we have a clear baseline from which to work.

Chinese medicine is based on the sound principle that each individual is different and, consequently, each individual’s treatment program will necessarily be different as well. I generally work with a combination of acupuncture and dietary and lifestyle advice, simply because I find that this multi-level approach achieves the best results, particularly in the most difficult cases.

I usually advise patients that they should be willing to commit to a three month (or three menstrual cycle) course of fertility acupuncture treatment, which normally involves acupuncture treatment at least twice in each menstrual cycle if cycles are a regular 28 days. In cases of male infertility three months is an appropriate period of time as sperm regenerate over the course of a 90 day period. For women, a three month period allows us to evaluate changes during three menstrual cycles and adjust treatment accordingly. However, in some cases three months may simply not be long enough, for example, where a female patient suffers from very irregular cycles.

In all cases, I am extremely mindful of how much my patients invest, in every sense of the word, in their treatment and I always take this into account to help you achieve the best outcome from your treatment.

“I suffer from endometriosis and after 3 years of trying to conceive , I found Olivia’s details on the internet and thought to try acupuncture as a way of complementing IUI treatment I was due to have. I have always been afraid of needles but Olivia put me at ease and not only did the acupuncture help me mentally, I also found myself pregnant within weeks of beginning acupuncture treatment without having to undergo IUI. I would not hesitate in recommending Olivia for fertility treatment and beyond. ”
If you are interested in finding out more about Fertility Acupuncture in Surrey please contact Olivia Shaw.

Acupuncture and Fertility 

I have a special interest in the treatment of infertility and I regularly see the wonderful things that can be achieved with acupuncture, often where people have almost given up hope that they will ever have a child.

Some of my patients have already had conventional medical treatment, such as ovulation induction with Clomid or Letrozole, IUI ,IVF or ICSI, while others are seeking a more natural way to enhance their fertility.

I always respond to each patient’s needs and use acupuncture and lifestyle advice to improve fertility naturally or as an adjunct to assisted reproductive techniques, such as IVF, ICSI, or IUI. If a couple has not had any blood work or investigations prior to coming to see me and they have been trying to conceive for at least a year (or 6 months where they are over 40) I always refer them for the relevant blood tests, a pelvic ultrasound scan and sperm analysis at the beginning of treatment.

“…there were times not so long ago when I didn’t believe that we would be blessed with a child at all. Thank you for helping us to make her happen.” (Mrs M.)

If you are interested in finding out more about Fertility Acupuncture in Surrey please contact Olivia Shaw.