Updated: Apr 1, 2022
Studies show that combining acupuncture with IVF (in vitro fertilization) can double your chances of conceiving, which is why many women seek out acupuncture when they are about to embark on their IVF journey. One of the most common questions I get asked by patients that are about to undergo IVF treatments is: "When is the best time to come in for treatment?" There are several times in which acupuncture is super beneficial both before and during the IVF cycle. Just like with IVF, we give you a treatment plan to follow to help you increase your chances of a successful conception and pregnancy.
3 Months Prior to IVF
Acupuncture is highly recommended 1-2 times per week in the 3-month period before you start the IVF process. While most women are wanting to start the IVF process as quickly as possible, there are good reasons to wait (for just a bit). First off, in Chinese medicine, we identify patterns of imbalance that are causing infertility and focus on treating these underlying factors during this time (i.e. poor blood flow, cysts, immune factors, etc). Secondly, we want to make sure your body is an optimal environment in which to conceive. Acupuncture can help to improve uterine blood flow, improve egg quantity and quality, calm your nervous system, and easy your anxiety. Lastly, the process of IVF is very taxing on the body both emotionally and physically, so it's best to prepare your body by with acupuncture, proper nutrition and stress reduction. (We teach our patients which foods help to boost fertility as well as which to avoid.) While not everyone is willing or able to wait the 3 months, I highly encourage at least 4-6 weeks of treatment prior to starting IVF (at the very least).
When the IVF process starts, we see patients 2 times per week. While acupuncture is beneficial at any and all times of the IVF cycle, the following are the best days to come in for optimal results.
During the Follicular Phase
Acupuncture during the follicular phase is particularly beneficial for improving endometrial thickness and helping the follicles develop and grow to the right size. These two factors are critical because if the lining is not thick enough or the follicles are too small and underdeveloped, the IVF cycle may be canceled.
Proper ovarian blood supply is essential to helping follicles and their eggs grow. Acupuncture works by increasing blood flow to the follicles and endometrium. When there is efficient blood flow, you will have higher quality eggs; thus, a higher chance of a successful IVF.
Right Before Egg Retrieval
Get acupuncture the day between your trigger shot (or trigger medication) and before egg retrieval. Acupuncture can give your eggs that final boost of blood flow and nutrients, aiding in their final maturation before retrieval.
The Day After Egg Retrieval
Egg retrieval (TVOR) is a surgical procedure in which the follicles are cut to retrieve eggs for potential fertilization. It is a taxing procedure on the body, so rest and recovery is essential. Acupuncture is used during this time to speed up the recovery process, alleviate stress, and reduce any side-effects following the procedure.
Right Before and After Embryo Transfer
On the day of your embryo transfer, acupuncture is recommended immediately before and after the procedure to greatly improve success. Try to set up your appointment 30 minutes to an hour prior to your embryo transfer, and come back in for a second treatment once the procedure is completed. If this is not possible, I recommend you get an acupuncture appointment at least 24-48 hours pre- and post-transfer.
In addition to these times, most patients come in for treatment once per week to improve overall health and reproduction, relieve stress and anxiety associated with the IVF process, and prevent side-effects associated with IVF meds.
Dr. Stephanie Bartolotti, DACM, AP has extensive training in fertility acupuncture and IVF integration and has studied with many top specialists in the field. To set up your FREE consultation to find how we can help boost your IVF success, click here.