Infertility affects a significant number of couples worldwide, with approximately 20% experiencing difficulties conceiving. Miscarriage rates are also high, with approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage.
As a result, many couples turn to assisted reproductive techniques (ART) to fulfil their desire for a child. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), specifically acupuncture, has gained popularity as an adjunctive therapy for enhancing fertility and improving the success rates of ART procedures such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and intrauterine insemination (IUI).
Understanding Fertility, Infertility, and Sub-fertility
Fertility is the result of a complex interplay of hormonal processes that lead to successful conception. Infertility is generally defined as the inability to conceive after trying for 12 months.
However, it is more accurate to describe many cases as sub-fertility, where the reproductive system is not functioning optimally. Pre-conceptual care, aimed at optimizing health before conception, can be beneficial for couples experiencing sub-fertility.
Acupuncture and Fertility
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a unique perspective on infertility, especially when no medical reason can be found. TCM recognizes the importance of balanced energy flow and aims to correct reproductive health issues.
Numerous studies conducted in China and the West have demonstrated the effectiveness of TCM in addressing reproductive health concerns.
Who can benefit from acupuncture to support fertility?
Various groups of individuals can benefit from fertility support, including couples without fertility complications seeking to enhance their chances of conception, those with diagnosed or unexplained fertility issues, and individuals undergoing ART procedures such as IVF, ICSI, or IUI.
Acupuncture and IVF
Acupuncture has been found to be beneficial in combination with IVF treatment. It can improve overall health, strengthen the immune system, and support emotional well-being, enabling the body to better cope with the stress and challenges of fertility and pregnancy treatments.
Acupuncture prior to and during IVF can help regulate hormone levels, improve the quality of the endometrium and pelvic blood flow, reduce symptoms from drug treatments, alleviate pain and discomfort, lower the chances of miscarriage, and support emotional well-being.
Is there any evidence that acupuncture can help with IVF?
Recent research on ‘Acupuncture and Assisted Reproductive Techniques’ has shown promising results regarding the benefits of acupuncture in conjunction with assisted reproductive techniques.
A study published by the British Medical Journal in 2008, looked at whether acupuncture can improve pregnancy rates and live birth outcomes in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). The results showed that when acupuncture was done alongside embryo transfer, there were significant improvements in the chances of getting pregnant, having an ongoing pregnancy, and achieving a live birth. In other words, women who received acupuncture had higher pregnancy rates compared to those who didn’t.
Another study published in 2018 looked at the effects of acupuncture during IVF. According to the article, the meta-analysis showed that acupuncture had a statistically significant effect on live birth rates. This indicates that the likelihood of achieving a live birth was higher among women who received acupuncture during IVF compared to those who received routine care alone.
When should I start acupuncture for fertility and IVF
It is advisable to engage an acupuncturist well in advance of IVF treatment. Starting acupuncture several months before IVF allows for lifestyle adjustments, stress management, and the optimization of overall health.
Acupuncture can warm the uterus, improve menstrual cycles, address gynecological conditions, and harmonize energy levels. As IVF approaches, acupuncture can help manage stress effectively.
12 – 6 months prior to IVF: Allows you to make any relevant lifestyle changes, including the addition of nutritional supplements to your diet for both partners. Learn to manage your stress better. IVF can be an extremely stressful time in your life and you’ll cope much better if you’ve already dealt with your major stressors. Balance your qi. The term used to describe the flow of energy in the body said to be responsible for health and wellness.
6 – 2 months prior to IVF: Warm a ‘cool’ uterus (closest translation is to optimise the production and secretion of progesterone) Improve your monthly menstrual cycle Move ‘obstructions’ painful periods and clotting caused by various gynaecological conditions eg fibroids. Harmonise qi (energy) eg regulate an abnormal menstrual cycle (eg missing, late, heavy periods); Polycystic Ovary Syndrome PCOS
1 – 2 months prior to IVF: As the time gets nearer to your IVF it’s likely that the effect of Traditional Acupuncture will be the same as in the section above– move obstructed qi, nourish deficient qi and balance qi, we just have less time to stimulate your body into a response. In addition, there is less time to make any essential lifestyle changes.
Finally, the weeks immediately before you commence your IVF are often nail bitingly stressful. Your dreams and aspirations are about to be realised (hopefully) via IVF and you’ve already travelled a long road just to get to this point. Having ‘read up’ on the hectic schedule of self injection, scans and examinations during the process leading to the production of ripe eggs, you know you’re in for a stressful month ahead. Acupuncture seems to be a valued tool helping you to manage excessive stress.
Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer
Research has shown that acupuncture before and after embryo transfer can significantly improve success rates. A study conducted in Germany demonstrated that acupuncture performed at the right stage increased live birth rates by up to 70% compared to those without acupuncture.
Acupuncture helps relax the uterus, optimize endometrial receptivity, and alleviate stress, ultimately improving the chances of a successful pregnancy.
Summary of Acupuncture’s Benefits for Fertility and IVF
Acupuncture offers several advantages for individuals seeking to enhance fertility and improve the outcomes of ART procedures, including:
- Stress reduction before and during IVF.
- Improved blood flow to the uterus during egg transfer, enhancing implantation success rates.
- Addressing obstacles to conception for both male and female partners.
- Minimising unwanted effects of prescribed fertility medications.
Acupuncture has emerged as a valuable adjunctive therapy for individuals and couples facing fertility challenges. When used in conjunction with ART procedures like IVF, acupuncture can optimise reproductive health, increase the chances of successful conception, and improve overall well-being during the fertility journey.
Book your session of fertility acupuncture in Birmingham today with our online booking system or call us.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What happens during my initial consultation?
Our priority upon your arrival is to ensure that you feel welcome, comfortable, and well-informed about your appointment. Typically, your initial consultation will last between 45 minutes to an hour. One of our experienced osteopaths will meet you and begin by attentively listening to you. We will inquire about your general health, any current pain you may be experiencing, your medical history, medications you may be taking, and review any medical examination results.
After this initial discussion, we may conduct specific tests to make a diagnosis. You may be asked to perform some gentle movements to allow us to evaluate your posture and mobility.
Using this important information, we will then create a personalized treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs.
What will happen AFTER an initial consultation?
During your second visit to our clinic, we will provide a detailed explanation of our findings from your history and examination. By the end of this session, you will be able to answer several crucial questions, including:
- What is causing my symptoms?
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- How long is the expected recovery time?
- How much treatment will be necessary based on your personalized treatment plan?
- How much will your treatment cost?
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We take the time to explain and clarify the causes of your symptoms and what can be done to alleviate them. At this stage, we will have created a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
What can I expect after my first treatment?
The response to treatment varies from person to person, as everyone is unique. The initial treatment is a crucial step in gauging the patient’s reaction to treatment and determining the best course of action to meet their individual needs.
Immediate relief may be experienced by some patients after the first session, while others may require multiple sessions to see significant progress. It’s vital for patients to realize that treatment is not a one-time fix and that it may take a number of sessions to achieve long-term results, particularly for chronic issues or long-standing musculoskeletal imbalances.
Is treatment painful?
The treatments themselves are not painful, but there might be some discomfort after the spinal manipulation as your body adjusts to the treatment and improved posture. This can result in stiffness in certain regions, which is a natural occurrence, and we recommend using an ice pack on the area for 10 minutes after your session and staying hydrated.
What causes the cracking sound during the treatment?
The cracking or popping sound heard during an osteopathic treatment is caused by the release of nitrogen gas from the joints. This is a normal and common occurrence and may not always happen depending on the technique used. The sound itself is neither significant or important to your progress.
What is the cost of the initial consultation?
The initial consultation is priced at £65, which comprises a thorough spinal evaluation including muscle and nerve testing, orthopaedic examination, as well as posture and movement analysis.
What is the cost of the each treatment?
Each treatment is £45 if you pay as you go. However, we do have discount options available depending on what works best for you.
What days and times are you open?
Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm,
Saturday – 8am – 2pm
Sunday – closed
How long will it take for me to feel better?
The length of time it will take to start to feel better varies a good deal between patients. This difference is based on several factors, including the how long you’ve had the problem and how severe it’s become, your lifestyle and demands of work and family as well as your individual capacity to respond to treatment.
Generally, patients with acute conditions (recent onset) may experience significant improvement within a few sessions, while those with chronic conditions (your symptoms have been present for more than 12 weeks) may require more treatment sessions to attain long-lasting outcomes.
The secrets to getting well are to always turn up for your treatment, follow the guidance of your practitioner and get involved in your own recovery. Don’t delegate your health to your practitioner. It is always a partnership!
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We recognize that we all have busy lives beyond the Backcare and Acupuncture Clinics, but please let us know as soon as possible if you are unable to keep your appointment, and we will make every effort to reschedule it for you. We will make every effort to accommodate your particular schedule