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Acupuncture for IVF Treatment

“Research has shown that Acupuncture before and after embryo transfer can increase success rates from 26.3% to 42.5%.”

Marianne McCabe has been treating couples undergoing ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) for nearly 10 years through a unique program of Acupuncture, Diet and Lifestyle Advise, Fertility Massage and relaxation techniques.

One of the first questions I am always asked is when is a good time to start Acupuncture and when in the IVF cycle should I receive Acupuncture. I have outlined below a typical IVF protocol and why Acupuncture is important at each stage. Everyone’s cycle will differ and I work through your individualized treatment protocol.

Below is a sample Acupuncture treatment timetable for an IVF cycle.

Ideally Acupuncture treatment will start three months before a cycle of IVF, this is to enhance the quality of eggs and sperm, and it will also work to improve overall health and well-being thus optimising a positive outcome. Acupuncture is a safe and effective adjunct therapy that works alongside IVF.  Studies have indicated that Acupuncture can improve blood flow to the uterus and pelvic organs, decrease stress levels and improve ovarian function, all of which work to maximise conception rates.  The IVF process involves Down regulation followed by Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS), Egg Collection (EC), In Vitro Fertilisation (done in the lab) and finally Embryo Transfer (ET) followed by progesterone support.

1. Down Regulation: A women’s menstrual cycle is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Hormones from the pituitary gland (found on the base of the brain) tell the eggs in the ovaries when to grow and when to be released.  The pituitary gland needs to be ‘switched off’ before drugs to stimulate egg production can begin; this allows the doctors to have better control over the actions of the ovaries.  Drugs used to switch off your reproductive cycle are called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues, or GnRH analogues for short.

Acupuncture Treatment: Aims at reducing stress levels and dealing with any side effects of medications i.e night sweats, hot flushes, headaches, exhaustion and emotional upset.

2. Follicular Stimulation Phase: Once a base line scan has established that the endocrine system has been down regulated, the nasal sprays are reduced and injections commence in order to stimulate follicular growth and egg recruitment.

Acupuncture Treatment: Aims to support ovarian response to medication by increasing blood flow to the pelvic organs, thickening endometrial lining and encouraging follicular growth.

3. Egg Ripening and Egg Retrieval/Collection: When the scan shows that your follicles have grown to the right size, you will be given a drug (hCG) to mature the eggs within the follicles. This will prepare the eggs for the egg collection.  Egg retrieval is a minor theatre procedure which is carried out on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia.

Acupuncture Treatment: Treatment after egg collection can settle the uterus and prepare for embryro transfer.

4. Pre and Post Embryo Transfer: The embryos are placed into the uterine cavity by the doctor/IVF nurse by means of a fine catheter inserted through the cervix. The correct positioning of the embryos is confirmed by abdominal ultrasound, so the woman is required to have a full bladder for the procedure.

Acupuncture treatment: Is given before and after embryo transfer to support implantation, minimize cramping, relax the cervix, support a receptive uterus, and relax the mind.  Use of Paulus Protocol.

During the two week wait before testing for pregnancy Acupuncture treatment aims to reduce stress and support implantation. Once pregnancy is established treatment can continue to protect initial pregnancy and to deal with any pregnancy related problems. If there is an unsuccessful outcome treatment is given in preparation for subsequent cycles and to replenish reserves.

For more information and to talk about your IVF, IUI, ICSI or Donor Cycle please call Marianne in confidence on 087 9697413

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