Needles, vaginal catheters, ultrasounds, there’s a lot a woman has to go through when it’s not normal pregnancy. In vitro fertilization, commonly known as IVF, is a blessing for couples who are not able to conceive naturally. The procedure, however, is excruciating in terms of physical pain and mental stress that would-be mother goes through. And when we introduce acupuncture in between IVF, it could look like just too much to take in to the mother. When you are already giving yourself multiple injections a day for many weeks, the suggestion of undergoing acupuncture therapy might not be welcoming. But these extra pricks are worth it. Let me guide you through the benefits of acupuncture and IVF stages which you must book a session with acupuncturist.
Why acupuncture during IVF?
In recent years, acupuncture has received tremendous support in western medicine world for its many benefits. Though acupuncture doesn’t guarantee successful pregnancy, it can have calming effect on a patient. Some of its benefits are:
- Reduced fatigue
- Control over mood swings
- Lesser abdomen swelling, discomfort and other side effects reported during IVF cycle.
When to book an appointment?
Before and during IVF medication phase
The protocols used in clinical trials result in an increase in the blood supply to uterus and ovaries. Acupuncture assists in proper regulation of hormones, which is a key component in follicle development and implantation. Therefore, the procedure could increase the pregnancy standards before and during IVF medication phase.
When it comes to number of acupuncture sessions a patient must undergo, I recommend them to have two treatments per week a month before the stimulation phase.
After egg collection
Patients are susceptible to physical and mental stress post egg collection. As an acupuncturist, I want to help them during this phase. My focus is to reduce any tissue trauma or local bleeding after the surgery, and help a patient deal with anxiety and stress calmly.
There’s as such no pressure on undergoing acupuncture within a fixed time period. Patient can visit whenever they feel better and are ready to travel.
Embryo transfer day
Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) conducted in 2003 reported an improvement in pregnancy rate in female who underwent acupuncture within their scope of treatment plan. Most of these women had pregnancy rate of 30 per cent or less. Even if it is a frozen embryo transfer, I encourage patients for an acupuncture session the same day.
Fertility and sterility period
From providing relief from niggling ailments to improving mood and sleep, acupuncture can help IVF patients in many ways. Those who take a session pre and post embryo transfer are more calm and composed, which eventually increases their pregnancy rate.
Before pregnancy test
The 12-14 days’ wait is the most crucial and vulnerable period for patients undergoing IVF. Their mind is occupied with all sorts of thoughts, which can lead to extreme mood swings. But that’s not all. Negative thoughts and emotions can cause physical and mental harm. An acupuncture session during this time can help in maintaining homeostasis of the patient. It will keep the mind composed, regulate stress hormones, and reduce muscle tension.
You should visit an acupuncturist a day or two after embryo transfer, and less than a week before the pregnancy test.
Acupuncture is a great technique to manage any side effect a patient might experience at any phase of the IVF. It helps a patient feel more relaxed, which ensures overall wellness of the mother and the baby. However, remember that acupuncture doesn’t guarantee the success of your IVF cycle. The good thing about the procedure is that it has limited risks and benefits that are worth the extra needle pricks.