By: Katherine Rowe, LAc, FABORM @ Triangle Acupuncture
In the community of infertility, it has been accepted for many years that acupuncture may provide benefit to women undergoing fertility treatments, including IVF. The studies beginning in 2002 looked only at having acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer during IVF. With the initial encouraging results of increased pregnancy rates, many more women began incorporating acupuncture on their transfer day.
Just as infertility clinics have evolved their treatments and are improving their success rates year after year, fertility acupuncturists have too. We have been looking at questions like, “What dose of acupuncture is most beneficial to infertility patients?” and, “How does acupuncture help with infertility concerns?” A study published in 2015 in Reproductive Biomedicine Online, “Impact of Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine on In Vitro Fertilization Outcomes,” has ignited a fire under researchers in the acupuncture and infertility field to find answers to these questions. In this particular study, the researchers looked at three groups of IVF participants: those who did not have acupuncture, those who only had acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer, and those who had a series of ten or more treatments leading up to their embryo transfer (where “Whole Systems Chinese Medicine” was administered). In the study, the patients in the Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine group had not only significantly higher pregnancy rates but also significantly lower miscarriage rates than either the IVF alone or IVF with acupuncture at transfer groups.
So what is Whole Systems Chinese Medicine? This is a term for the kind of treatment that someone would get at an acupuncture clinic in the weeks leading up to a fertility procedure, as opposed to having just one acupuncture protocol for each person like you would see within the confines of a study. When you visit an acupuncturist, many different treatment modalities may be used such as acupuncture, electroacupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, dietary and lifestyle recommendations, and if appropriate, Chinese herbal therapy, and nutritional supplements. The other major difference in Whole Systems Chinese Medicine is that each treatment session is tailored to the specific health needs of the patient and fluctuates depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle. There is no one “fertility acupuncture treatment.” We are always evaluating your physical and emotional health and applying whatever treatment is most appropriate for that time.
While more research needs to be done and is being done, the takeaway is that your acupuncturist has much more to offer you on your fertility journey than just acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer. But if transfer day acupuncture is all you can fit in, there is still great benefit to having that relaxation before and after the procedure. And no, acupuncture does not hurt! We are conveniently located right downstairs on the first floor of 2601 Lake Drive, just an elevator ride down from Carolina Conceptions. This makes transfer day acupuncture a no-rush, easy and ultra-relaxing experience.
Triangle Acupuncture Clinic has been devoted to working with patients at Carolina Conceptions since they opened in 2006. We have a team of acupuncturists who specialize in treating infertility and are certified by the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. We have worked with thousands of couples over the last 14 years and each new baby is always a special moment for us. Call us at 919-854-7311 or come find us right downstairs from Carolina Conceptions, we’d be happy to answer any questions!