IVF and acupuncture – introduction
For childless couples dreaming of starting a family, undergoing fertility treatment can be an extremely stressful time.
So increasingly, many couples are turning to acupuncture as a way of helping them to cope with their IVF treatment programme as well as trying to improve their chances of success.
And as recent research suggests, acupuncture may help with IVF treatment.
For more about this research – which suggests couples who have acupuncture may be twice as likely to conceive than those who don’t – read on.
What is acupuncture?
Most people will think of needles when you mention acupuncture.
Well, let’s take a closer look at this ancient Chinese practice and shed some light on what it is and what the benefits may be.
Traditional acupuncture is a healthcare system that is based on ancient Chinese principles that are around 2,000 years old.
A way to restore your body’s balance
A practising acupuncturist sees pain and illness as signs that the body is out of balance. The prime aim of an acupuncture treatment, therefore, is to restore the body’s equilibrium.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture’s underlying principle is that the body’s primary organs use qui (pronounced chi) and meridians.
Qi is energy, while meridians are pathways and the body’s organs use these in order to communicate with each other.
When the body is healthy, according to the principles of acupuncture, the energy flows freely. Thus, health is promoted and the body resists disease.
If, on the other hand, the energy is weakened or becomes blocked, it results in pain or illness.
During an acupuncture treatment, very fine, single-use needles are inserted into points along specific channels or meridians on the body. This helps to strengthen or unblock the body’s energy.
Do the needles hurt?
The needles used in acupuncture are much finer than needles used for injections or blood tests. So it is highly unlikely you will experience discomfort – you are more likely to feel a tingling sensation or dull ache when the needle is inserted through the skin.
So how can acupuncture support couples undergoing IVF?
Evidence from ultrasounds has shown that acupuncture can improve uterine blood flow. This may create a more welcoming environment for implantation.
Many doctors and scientists feel acupuncture at the very least can have a calming effect on patients.
And when couples are undergoing the inevitable stress of fertility treatments, an increase in relaxation could be vital to a successful IVF treatment, particularly when you consider how stress hormones can inhibit fertility.
Acupuncture may double couples’ chances of fertility, says report
Last year (2016), national newspapers were full of headlines about a university hospital study into the use of acupuncture with IVF.
The Daily Mail said: Acupuncture ‘doubles the chances of getting pregnant through IVF’.
The Telegraph said: Acupuncture doubles chance of having a baby with IVF, study suggests.
The study by Homerton University Hospital, in London, found that rates of success were double among those couples who underwent acupuncture treatment than those who didn’t.
The study involved 160 couples who were having fertility problems. Half of them underwent acupuncture sessions during their IVF cycle.
When the scientists checked a year later, those couples who had acupuncture achieved pregnancy rates of 46.2 per cent. Meanwhile, those who did not have acupuncture had pregnancy rates of 21.7 per cent.
Want to know more?
Contact the Acupuncturist team at the Reproductive Health group to see how acupuncture can help you.
Written by: Mandy Laing, Care Coordinator/Acupuncturist