Reproductive Health Information - IVF & Acupuncture Treatment
Acupuncture and IVF treatment options & recommendations
Acupuncture treatment improves your chances of conception via regulation of stress hormones which may have an impact on follicle development and implantation of the embryo (reference). There are three treatment plan options;
Option One: Acupuncture treatments twice per week for six weeks leading up to egg retrieval and two treatments (before and after) on embryo transfer day
Increases blood flow to the uterine lining and developing follicles Relieves the effects of stress and anxiety Increases implantation and pregnancy rates Induces relaxation on the day of embryo transfer
Option Two: Acupuncture treatments before and after embryo transfer
Increases implantation and pregnancy rates Induces relaxation on the day of embryo transfer
Option Three: Acupuncture treatments once per week throughout first trimester of pregnancy
Reduces the incidence of miscarriage Provides emotional support and calms the mother Increases blood flow to fetus Relieves nausea and vomiting
If you have had previous failed IVF cycles, consider 3-6 months of preparation with traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture, herbs, and lifestyle) prior to your next IVF cycle. 'Nourish the soil before you plant the seed' to optimize your chances of IVF success.
Yes. IVF side effects are often more marked after egg retrieval, because even though the eggs have been removed the hormone levels are still very high. The empty follicles may fill with fluid and cause the feeling of abdominal fullness to persist. The fullness and pain tends to quickly subside with acupuncture treatment.
In severe cases, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) may occur. This is a condition where acupuncture may be quite beneficial.
Acupuncture also helps reduce inflammation from the tissue trauma of egg retrieval. This results in the uterine environment being more conducive for implantation.
Lastly, women that display thin uterine (endometrial) lining will benefit from acupuncture in the days before embryo transfer.
I was thankful for the treatment before and after the transfer. Because it was onsite, it was only a few feet a way, which meant more time to let the embryo "snuggle in". It greatly helped to relieve all the tension that I felt leading upto the transfer. Dr. Pentland was of course (and still is) a good sounding board and offered some great advice for the day of the transfer.
I found it to be relaxing and calmed me down a little. I was super nervous as not knowing what the outcome is going to be in a few weeks time especially since I have had treatment done many times and have been unsuccessful so thought I would give accupuncture a try as it is supposed to help with blood flow and all. Having the clinic onsite is great, helps decrease some of the stress of having to drive around to places and make it for the transfer on time. Thank you so much to Dr Pentland he was great!
Loved it ! Just having you there was calming for me because you've been there right from the beginning with us and it would have been weird if you hadn't been there. I went into the transfer very relaxed and I'm certain it contributed to our success.
Amazing service. Relaxing, great to be on site, all questions were answered. And successful, can't be better than that!
The acupuncture was helpful in that it was relaxing --- taking your mind off the transfer. The heated bed and blanket was quite nice as the room is somewhat cool. Overall... enjoyable experience.
I found the whole acupuncture experience to be very relaxing. I would highly recommend listening to the IVF meditation mp3 that Dr. Pentland suggested, before embryo transfer. It made what could have been a stressful day a very positive experience. I was also very appreciative that Dr. Pentland is on site at the PCRM clinic and that there was such a smooth transition to the embryo transfer procedure.
After 6 rounds of Clomid and a failed IVF cycle, I explored the option of IVF acupuncture for my second IVF cycle. Having acupuncture on my embryo transfer day gave me the confidence that my body and mind were at their epitome of relaxation. Also, having it done on site gave me the calming, positive and warm thoughts I was seeking for the moments leading up to my embryo transfer - and the relaxation right after. I am currently 22 weeks pregnant with twins. I truly believe Dr. Pentland's help has contributed to my success!
I enjoyed the service, it was quite relaxing to be in such nice surroundings, I particularly enjoyed the heating pad
It was relaxing during a stressful time. Great to have it next door. Nice to try and relax pre-transfer. You feel rushed with the procedure it's great to have the "down" time to relax and focus on the embryo transfer afterward.
When I first heard about a new acupuncture service on site at PCRM, I was so glad because of a convenience. I had a really great relaxing experience on the day of embryo transfer. In my opinion, it is very important to be comfortable on this day of treatment. I was surprised of the calm environment: warm bed and blanket, pleasant scent of essential oils and relaxing meditation. Many thanks to Dr. Spence Pentland.
When your doctor tells you that your follicles (eggs) are ready you will be given an injection of HCG, 'the trigger'. It is at this point that the dates of your embryo transfer are known. Two calendar days after 'the trigger' you will go to the IVF clinic for your oocyte pick-up (OPU) or egg retrieval. Three to five days after the oocyte pick-up (OPU) will be your transfer dates (this depends on the labs opinion of how the embryos are progressing 'in vitro', they will keep you posted along the way). However, it is only the day before your actual embryo transfer date that you will be told the precise time your embryo transfer procedure will be.
Therefore, as far as the administration of acupuncture on embryo transfer day is concerned, there are 2 important times to call or email your acupuncturist;
1. when you know the date of your HCG 'trigger' &/or oocyte pick-up (OPU) so that they can schedule you for tentative day 3 or 5 transfer dates
2. when you get the phone call from the IVF clinic telling you the actual embryo transfer date and precise time the procedure will be.
On the day of embryo transfer, you will meet your acupuncturist 1.25 hrs before your scheduled procedure time (i.e. transfer time is 10am, acupuncture is at 8:45am). This is a 20-30 minute pre-procedure acupuncture treatment. Then, post-embryo transfer procedure, once the nurses have discharged you, a second 20 minute acupuncture treatment is administered. These treatments help calm the woman and optimize uterine receptivity.
***A special note about the filling of your bladder; start drinking water as instructed by the IVF clinic early in the morning the day of procedure. We will assess the condition of the bladder when you arrive for your pre-procedure acupuncture treatment. If it is too full you will be asked to empty your bladder and drink 500ml before the acupuncture is administered.
Acupuncture is well known for its potent effect on relieving stress. Many couples turn to acupuncture before and during their IVF cycles to help reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. During these stressful times, finding coping mechanisms that work for you is important to optimize your chances of conception.
When one is inflicted with high levels of stress the body reacts by flooding the blood with 'stress' chemicals that direct blood flow away from the reproductive organs. Blood is the messenger of nutrients, oxygen, and gonadotropic IVF medications to the developing eggs and uterine lining. This simple correlation emphasizes the need to manage stress and anxiety when trying to conceive and carry to term.
Generally, 1-2 treatments per week in the weeks leading up to embryo transfer help reduce stress and optimize the ovaries response to IVF.
The IVF Acupuncture Group. Acupuncture Services for Patients Undergoing IVF in Greater Vancouver. Visit http://ivfacupuncture.org or call 778.228.4700 for more information on how The IVF Acupuncture Group can support you through your IVF cycle.
On the day of your embryo transfer, acupuncture is administered 30 minutes before your transfer is scheduled, and again immediately after. This treatment induces deep relaxation and stress relief. According to a recent Meta-study in the British Medical Journal, embryo transfer day acupuncture improves pregnancy rates.
Acupuncture is a simple painless medical procedure that involves using small needles to stimulate specific points on the body. Recent medical research has shown the effectiveness of acupuncture for;
Reducing stress to increase overall well-being Improving pregnancy rates in conjunction with IVF & Clomid Improves blood flow to the reproductive organs Balancing reproductive hormones Regulates immune function required for implantation Regulating the menstrual cycle & ovulation Improving sperm parameters Reducing painful conditions & inflammation Increasing sexual function
Dr. Spence Pentland provides the following treatment plans;
Acupuncture support leading up to, during, and after an IVF cycle (including day of embryo transfer, on site at PCRM) Natural Fertility Enhancement Acupuncture for Male Factor Infertility
One of the major causes of infertility and IVF failure is a thin uterine lining, inadequate blood flow to the uterus, i.e. poor uterine artery pulsatility index. Treatment to increase blood flow is essential to improving fertility and reducing chances of miscarriage. It should be noted that stress, lack of exercise, not enough rest, lack of joy, and certain foods all can inhibit blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Click here to read a short testimonial of how acupuncture improved the thickness of a woman's uterine lining 75-100% in just 2 treatments immediately before an IVF. The following are effective treatments for a thin endometrial lining;
Acupuncture. An area of research, as well as my own experience, has shown extreme effectiveness with acupuncture and its affect on the increase of blood flow to the reproductive organs (uterus, ovaries, testis). This may very well be a primary reason that acupuncture displays benefit to women going through IVF fertility treatments in Vancouver. Simply, blood bring the medications to the ovaries and uterus, and if the flow is unimpeded, then more IVF medications arrive at their intended destination which results in better responses and positive outcomes.
Chinese herbal medicine. Many of the herbals in the Chinese medicine pharmacy have the effect of increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs. Many are said to 'quicken and invigorate blood'. Others 'nourish and build blood'. Science is now showing that many of these herbs have the identical physiological effects of Viagra (Sildenafil), a drug well known for its effect on erectile health. This drug, and the mentioned herbs, simply increase blood flow to the uterus, ovaries, and penis (causing erections) via the increase of Nitric Oxide release, a substance that dilates blood vessels.
The following are recommended to do at home to help increase blood flow to reproductive organs and optimize your endometrial lining & fertility;
Castor Oil / Moxa Pack Treatment
Administer for 10 days in the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle (i.e. day 3 to 12). A castor oil / moxa pack is placed on the skin to increase circulation and to promote elimination and healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin (i.e. ovaries and uterus). Recommended to do in the evening at the same time as hot water foot soak (below). Moxa packs can be purchased at Qi Integrated Health.
METHOD: Castor oil / moxa packs are made by soaking (not dripping wet) a small piece of flannel/cotton (i.e. facecloth size folded) in castor oil and placing it on the skin immediately above the pubic hair line. The cloth then is covered with a sheet of plastic (plastic bag cut out), and then a moxa pack is placed over the plastic to heat the oil for 30-60 minutes each night (while you are doing a warm foot bath is optimal). Be sure and rest while the pack is in place. After removing the pack, cleanse the area with a dilute solution of water and baking soda. Store the cloth in a covered container in the refrigerator. Castor oil should not be taken internally. It should not be applied to broken skin, or used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. *NOTE: if using moxa packs to wear throughout the day (they stay warm for almost 24 hrs) with the included belt, please be sure to have at least 1 layer of clothing between the pack and your skin.
Hot Water Foot Soak
Research shows that hot water foot baths (49 degrees celsius) is potentially very beneficial to a woman's fertility. So every night before bed, especially during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, women should give the feet some warm love! Run your hot water tap for 1 minute, most water furnaces are set to 49 degrees celsius (if it feels WAY too hot, check the temp on your hot water heater), and fill a container large enough to fit both feet, then kick back and relax for 15-20 minutes. This is a great time to do your castor/moxa packs as well (above).
Perform from end of menses to ovulation or retrieval date if undergoing IVF. Do 2-3 times each leg (separately), 1-2 times per day. This massage increases the blood flow to the pelvic organs, providing more nourishment to the uterus and ovaries, testes and penis. Compress the femoral artery with your fingers, fairly heavy pressure will be required. When you feel the flow has ceased, hold for 30 seconds. The femoral artery can be located level with your pubic bone, just beneath the crease in your groin between your thigh and lower abdomen. The blood will then back up and increase the pressure gradient in the iliac arteries which forces more blood into the pelvic arteries. This floods the pelvic organs and genitals with more blood. When the hold is released, you should feel a sensation of warmth rushing down your legs as the blood supply returns to the lower extremities. Do not perform this exercise if you: are pregnant, are post-transfer during an IVF cycle, have high blood pressure, have heart disease or circulatory problems (aneurisms, varicose veins, phlebitis, thrombosis), have a history of strokes, or detached retinas.
Food. Here are a few dietary principles you can implement to help create a thick uterine lining; Avoid sour food when bleeding (yogurt, vinegar, pickles, grapefruit, currants, and green apples. Eat more blood nourishing foods when bleeding such as eggs, carrots, spinach, dates, & goji berries. Consume more blood invigorating foods when bleeding such as fish, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Click here to watch a short video about foods that help and hinder blood flow to the uterus and can help in the treatment of a thin endometrial lining.
Poor quality eggs is often a chromosomal or mitochondrial issue. This may be due, in part, to years of accumulated damage, caused by living a life dedicated to endeavours other than optimal health and wellness. Problems in the chromosomal DNA can lead to an increased chance of producing an unviable embryo with abnormal chromosomes. Problems in the mitochondrial DNA can lead to inadequate metabolic energy, which might affect the survival and growth of the embryo in its first few days.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine may or may not be able to help damage related to age. What we do know is that acupuncture increases blood flow to the ovaries and optimizes the nourishment of the developing follicle and appears to increase responsiveness to IVF drugs (reference).
There is some evidence that mitochondrial function can be improved with the antioxidant affects of Chinese herbs.
A woman may also consider embarking on a more comprehensive acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment program before her next IVF cycle.