How Can Acupuncture Support My IVF or IUI Cycle?
When people find out that I’m a reproductive acupuncturist, they usually want to know if I only see patients trying to conceive naturally. If you’re already a TCRA patient then you know the answer is no, we treat couples along any and all parts of their fertility journey. If you are not currently a TCRA patient, then you’re probably reading this because you are curious about using acupuncture to support your upcoming IVF or IUI cycle. We would love to support you during this important time, so lets discuss how acupuncture may help you.
The media seems to be reporting more and more celebrities are using acupuncture to conceive, and frequently these couples are using In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) as their method of conception. You may be surprised that acupuncture can be used to help support your upcoming IVF, frozen embryo transfer (FET), or IUI cycle.
At TCRA we have focused on research when developing our treatment plans patients that are preparing for an IVF cycle. And we focus on three main areas: decreasing cortisol levels, increasing blood flow to the pelvis, and decreasing uterine contractions. Here’s why each of these areas are important.
- Decreasing cortisol levels - cortisol levels increase during periods of stress, and anyone struggling with fertility can tell you that the process of trying to conceive can be extremely stressful. Cortisol levels are high when your body goes into the “Fight or Flight Mechanism” - this was super helpful back in caveman days when you had to run from a bear or fight off a wolf. But in today’s busy world it serves little purpose and often leaves you feeling stressed and anxious. Acupuncture has been shown to lower these cortisol levels, which does three things for you:
Increasing blood flow to the pelvic area - so, you’re taking all these hormones for your IVF cycle, but we still need to make sure that they get to their target → your uterus and ovaries. This is why we focus on increasing blood flow to your pelvic area, to help ensure that your body has what it needs to stimulate the ovaries to make nice mature and healthy follicles, and make sure you have a beautiful uterine lining for the transfer or IUI. We do this in two ways:
Decreasing uterine contractions - research also shows that acupuncture can decrease contractions of smooth muscles, which is what the uterus is mainly compiled of. We follow specific research protocols during the pre transfer and post transfer treatments, which are conducted within 24 hours of the transfer. One of the goals of these treatments is to decrease contractions, and we continue to focus on this during the two weeks after the transfer or IUI until the patient takes a pregnancy test or does blood work to confirm pregnancy. Specific acupuncture points have been shown to increase blood flow to the uterine artery, so we use these in the weeks leading up to your retrieval, transfer, or IUI. They also lower cortisol levels.
- Increases blood flow to the pelvis
- Increases progesterone production after the transfer (even if you’re taking supplemental progesterone, I still want your body to make as much of it’s own as possible)
- Makes you feel better - lower cortisol levels make you feel less stressed, and allows you to deal with stress better.
- If you would like to read more about how acupuncture can help you reach your fertility goals, you can click here. If you are currently preparing for an IVF, FET or IUI cycle, call us today to set up a consult so we can help take care of you. We recommend beginning treatment 4-6 weeks before your transfer or insemination, but it’s never too late for us to begin helping you during this important yet stressful time.
Wherever you are at in your fertility journey I wish you the best of luck, and hope our team at TCRA can assist you in growing your family.