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Acupuncture & IVF for Advanced Maternal Age

The majority of my infertility patients are women in their mid thirties to early forties. It is during these ages that women start to struggle the most with infertility due to a decline in ovarian blood flow, egg quality, and egg quantity. IVF treatments can be successful for some aging women, yet for many the process is much harder than anticipated because underlying factors haven't been addressed. This is where adding acupuncture can be extremely beneficial. In this article, I will explore two common conditions causing infertility in advanced maternal age and explain how combining acupuncture with IVF can help you overcome these obstacles and help you finally get pregnant!

Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR)

Women are born with all the eggs they will have in their lifetime and these eggs diminish over time as they are ovulated each month, fertilized, or died off. With DOR, a woman has less than the average amount of eggs for her age remaining. While this can be discouraging, it is egg quality that is more important than egg quantity. (It is much better to have ONE good quality egg than several poor quality ones.) Fortunately, acupuncture has been proven to improve follicle and egg quality in patients with DOR, so there is more of a chance that your existing or retrieved eggs are able to be fertilized and mature into healthy embryos.

Poor ovarian response (POR)

Ovarian response is the endocrine and follicular reaction of the ovaries to stimulation.

Poor ovarian response happens when the ovaries fail to respond to stimulation during IVF protocols, resulting in a failure to recruit adequate follicles. With POR, eggs cannot be retrieved, which is why IVF cycles are often cancelled.

Ovarian response is directly related to the amount of blood flow to the ovaries, which decreases with age (which is why it is POR is common in advanced maternal age).

To improve ovarian response, specific acupuncture points are used to increase blood flow to the ovaries to make them much more responsive to stimulation. Twelve acupuncture treatments over a 3-month period prior to an IVF cycle can significantly improve egg retrieval success rates, even when past cycles have been unsuccessful.

Acupuncture + IVF

Acupuncture combined with IVF has been shown to double your chances of conceiving. This means that you are more likely to get pregnant in a shorter amount of time with less IVF cycles! The IVF process is expensive, invasive, and stressful, so doubling your chances means less stress, less invasive procedures, and less money spent.

Benefits of Acupuncture & IVF:

  • Increases ovarian response

  • Increases estrogen levels if too low

  • Increases blood flow to the uterus & ovaries

  • Enhances follicle & egg quality

  • Increases follicle & egg quantity

  • Improves sperm vitality

  • Relieves side-effects of IVF drugs

  • Increases endometrium thickness

  • Regulates the HPO (hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian) axis to help the brain communicate to the ovaries

  • Reduces stress & stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system

  • Increases implantation rates

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