Many couples struggling to get pregnant are finding ways on how they can have their own bundle of joy. Many fertility clinics introduce different Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures to their patients, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), ovulation induction, and the most talked-about procedure, the in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Now that IVF has become more popular and accepted as an effective ART procedure, some methods to complement its success rates begin to relate their name to IVF. One of these practices is the tried-and-tested Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) procedure, acupuncture. Find out if this can increase your chances of becoming pregnant through IVF and how acupuncture and IVF work together in order to improve your pregnancy chances.
Acupuncture and IVF: The definition
Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practice that involves the insertion of thin needles at predetermined points on the body. The Chinese believe that the needles stimulate the body’s meridians or channels of energy along these certain points. Depending on the placement of the needles, a patient may feel more relaxed or more energised, sleepy or more active. They may also experience subtle physical changes. In the case of the acupuncture and IVF together, it can affect the rise or fall of a woman’s hormones or increase the blood flow at a certain body area, like the womb.
Acupuncture and IVF: The process
Acupuncture can be practiced any time before or during the IVF procedure. Before the procedure, acupuncture and IVF can work together because the body feels relaxed and accepting of the hormonal injections given during the first part of the process. During the IVF procedure, acupuncture is said to help during or after the embryo transfer, calming the mother and increasing the blood flow to the pelvis to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. There are some patients who even underwent acupuncture after the IVF process while waiting for the pregnancy test result.
Acupuncture and IVF: The effect on pregnancy
There are several studies performed to test if acupuncture and IVF can increase the chances of getting pregnant. One was a study conducted at the Homerton University Hospital in London. Of the 160 women undergoing IVF, half (80 women) were asked to undergo four sessions of acupuncture during the IVF cycle. The results showed that of the 80 women who have undergone acupuncture and IVF, 46.2% had a successful pregnancy. Of the remaining 80 participants who did not receive acupuncture, the pregnancy success rate was only 21.7%.
But this is just one of the many studies that used acupuncture and IVF together. The results are split; some say it is beneficial, while some say it has no significant benefit.
Acupuncture and IVF: The experts’ conclusion
There is no scientific reasoning that could support the positive effects of acupuncture in IVF. Fertility experts and specialists are indecisive if they should recommend acupuncture and IVF together or not. We can only deduce that since Traditional Chinese Medicine like acupuncture can promote relaxation and calm to the body, there is no harm in performing it while doing the IVF. At the very least, the procedure can make you feel relaxed, confident, and positive during the fertility procedure. That is very important since many studies have also shown that stress can affect a woman’s fertility and can also affect the implantation of the embryo if stress hormones are elevated.
In the end, performing exercises or practices that promote relaxation to the body can be helpful in maintaining a positive attitude during the IVF procedure. Whether it is yoga, massage, or acupuncture and IVF, what is important is that your body is relaxed and accepting of the challenging days ahead while undergoing the fertility process.