Acupuncture Improves Your Chance Of Success With IVF

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Acupuncture Improves Your Chance Of Success With IVF

Sometimes I get calls from women who are going through a round of  IVF and they want to know if I can give them acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer.  “Of course” I say, because transfers can be stressful and so relaxing and balancing the body on that day can be helpful.  But my heart also falls a little bit, because if only they had started treatment a few months earlier, I might have been able to help their chances a whole lot more. This has been my experience in practice, but now there is a new study showing that this is true on a larger scale.

A recent study published recently in the journal Reproductive Biomedicine Online looked at live birth rates for over 1200 women undergoing IVF with both donor eggs and non-donor cycles.  The research compared both donor and non-donor IVF cycles without any acupuncture treatment to women who received day-of transfer acupuncture and women who received “Whole Systems TCM”.

Day of transfer treatments often follow a specific protocol.  These treatments focus on preventing cramping, relaxing the patient, and supporting the woman’s hormones.  Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine is a more involved process that involves receiving acupuncture regularly and making dietary and lifestyle changes.   The lead author of the study, Lee Hullender Rubin DAOM, LAc, describes Whole Systems TCM like this:

“A Whole Systems TCM treatment plan is a complex intervention that can include one, some or many different treatment modalities that fall under the TCM umbrella, including acupuncture, electro acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and Chinese medical massage, TCM based dietary and lifestyle recommendations, and if appropriate, Chinese herbal therapy, and nutritional supplements. An important clarifiction is that not everyone receives everything on this list of treatments. But, everyone included in the study did receive acupuncture with diet and lifestyle recommendations.”

The results speak for themselves.  With over 1,000 women in non-donor IVF cycles the researchers found that:

“…women who added approximately 12 sessions of Whole Systems TCM to their fresh, non-donor IVF were associated with two-fold increase in live births and 72% fewer biochemical pregnancies compared to usual IVF care alone. When compared to day of ET acupuncture, Whole Systems TCM was associated with 63% more live births and 75% fewer biochemical pregnancies.”

Did you catch that?  63% more live births and 75% fewer chemical pregnancies than day-of embryo transfer acupuncture!  That’s pretty impressive!  The miscarriage rate in the Whole Systems TCM group was also almost half of that in the IVF-alone group.

Acupuncture is not a magic pill.  Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine work with the individual, addressing imbalances that are keeping the body from falling pregnant.  Changing imbalances that have developed over years takes time, a willingness to change old habits, and patience.  It doesn’t surprise me at all that women who come for treatment regularly for a few months prior to IVF have better outcomes.  You can read more information about the study results, including the donor cycle results, on Lee Hullender Rubin’s website, here.

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