VANCOUVER NOTE: We are available 7 days/week for on site embryo transfer day acupuncture treatments at the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine (PCRM), Genesis Fertility Centre, and Grace Fertility Centre.
There are a number of treatment options available to support you during your IVF cycle, to increase your chance of success and to improve how you feel. Treatment methods employed include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, naturopathic medicine, and dietary counsel.
Options range from just one or two acupuncture treatments on the day of embryo transfer to a full course of complimentary and alternative medicine treatments leading up to that day, and throughout pregnancy.
If you have had a number of failed IVF cycles you may wish to consider the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) or Naturopathic medicine to enhance reproductive health before you attempt IVF again. As well, if you have decided to not do IVF again, traditional Chinese or naturopathic medicine may provide you with another way of treating infertility. Some of you might choose to try a natural approach to infertility treatment from the beginning and save IVF for last. This approach is appropriate if you have intact fallopian tubes and the sperm are healthy (unless treatment for sperm is also sought).
Below are recommended treatment protocols. Depending on the needs of the individual, many of these can be combined or altered.
1. Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer
This treatment protocol is based on research which showed an increase in pregnancy rates in some groups of women for whom the expected pregnancy rate is 30% or less (reference
). Applicable to IVF / ICSI / IUI / FET.
Schedule: 1 treatment one hour before transfer and 1 treatment immediately after transfer (on site).
*VANCOUVER NOTE: We are available 7 days/week for on site embryo transfer day acupuncture treatments at the We are available 7 days/week for on site embryo transfer day acupuncture treatments at the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine (PCRM), Genesis Fertility Centre, and Grace Fertility Centre.
Click here for more info on treatments to support IVF cycles.
2. Acupuncture before and during the medication phase of IVF / ICSI / IUI / FET
These treatment protocols are based on clinical trials which demonstrate increased blood supply to uterus and ovaries (reference
) and a beneficial regulation of hormones which may be important to follicle development and implantation (reference
). A significant increase in pregnancy rates was reported in these trials as well.
Schedule: 2 treatments per week for 1-6 weeks (4-6 optimal) before tentative transfer date.
Click here for more info on treatments to support IVF cycles.
3. Acupuncture at any phase of the IVF / ICSI / IUI / FET cycle
Acupuncture can be used to manage any side effects you might experience and reduce anxiety. These treatment protocols are based on the clinical experience of many acupuncturists and their patients. Reduced fatigue, moodiness, abdomen swelling and discomfort and other side effects are reported by many women using acupuncture during their IVF cycle. In addition women report greater relaxation and control of anxiety (reference
). The acupuncture treatment will be different for each patient and depends on your symptoms. These treatments can be combined with Schedule 2 above.
Schedule: 1-2 treatments per week as needed.
Click here for more info on treatments to support IVF cycles or here for more info on stress relief.
4. Acupuncture after egg retrieval (before embryo transfer)
To reduce any local tissue trauma or bleeding, and help prepare a thick rich uterine lining and a calm environment for the arrival of an embryo. This treatment can be combined with Schedule 2 or 3 above.
Schedule: 1 treatment between egg retrieval and embryo transfer.
Click here for more info on treatments to support IVF cycles or here for more info on the treatment of a thin uterine lining.
5. Acupuncture during the first trimester of pregnancy
Acupuncture in early pregnancy has immune-modulating effects which help establish implantation and prevent rejection of the embryo. It also increases micro-circulation (blood flow) to the uterus to help properly nourish the embryo which is of particular importance when a woman shows a tendency towards clotting factors or recurrent miscarriage (Clinical trials have shown that regular monitoring and reassurance reduces miscarriage rates). Acupuncture also reduces nausea and high stress levels that are so often associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Schedule: 1 treatment per week until week 13 of pregnancy.
Click here for more info on care during pregnancy or here for more info on miscarriage prevention.
6. Acupuncture during the third trimester of pregnancy (breech presentation & labour prep)
Acupuncture and moxibustion have demonstrated the ability to turn breech presentation. It is most effective when done between the weeks of 34-36. The Moxibustion technique will be taught at the first visit and must be preformed at home for 10-14 days consecutively (or until medical confirmation that baby has turned). Acupuncture treatment applied in the 4 weeks before the due date for delivery has been shown to reduce medical induction and emergency caesarian rates. It also has been shown to encourage cervical ripening and shorten labour time. If a woman does pass her due date, special acupuncture induction treatments have shown effect clinically.
Schedule: breech presentation - 1 treatment per week during weeks 34-36, at which time an 'at home' moxibustion technique will be taught. labour prep - 1 treatment per week during weeks 37-40. *Induction treatments are also offered if necessary.
Click here for more info on care during pregnancy.
7. Acupuncture for male factor infertility (sperm)
These treatments protocols are based on clinical trials which demonstrate an increase in sperm count and motility, and a decrease in abnormal forms after a course of acupuncture (reference
). The pressure to produce a sperm sample on the day of egg collection can be significant enough to cause a problem. Acupuncture reduces anxiety and can increase blood flow to the genital area.
Schedule: 2 treatments per week in the 1-6 weeks (4-6 optimal) prior to IVF. 1 treatment the morning of sperm donation (egg retrieval).
Click here for more info on male factor infertility or here for more info on stress relief.
8. Treatment of various conditions that cause infertility
PCOS, endometriosis, recurrent pregnancy loss, unexplained infertility, diminished ovarian reserve, premature ovarian failure, thyroid conditions, and stress, all play major roles in positive IVF or natural fertility outcomes. Whether it is losing weight, managing pain, regulating inflammation and immune response, increasing micro-circulation (blood flow), enriching reproductive essence, hormone balancing, or stress relief, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine can offer solutions. (reference
Schedule: treatment protocols are determined on an individual basis depending on conditions presenting. A specialist experienced in fertility and its treatment with complimentary and alternative medicine will make a detailed diagnosis and will formulate an appropriate treatment plan.
Click the following links for more info on the treatment of: PCOS, unexplained infertility, miscarriage prevention, endometriosis, diminished ovarian reserve, premature ovarian failure (POF), thyroid conditions, and stress relief.