IVF and Acupuncture, When is the best time to start?

Questions about when to start acupuncture are easily the most frequently asked among those who call or come into our clinic seeking care as they prepare for an IVF cycle. We’re fortunate as acupuncturists to have an ever-growing body of research to refer to when making recommendations. As much as possible when creating treatment plans for our patients, we do this based on the most current research. So, when is the best time to start acupuncture to increase your chances of a successful cycle? Why is this and what if you’re starting late?

An IVF cycle consists of medical stimulation of the ovaries, an egg retrieval, and an embryo transfer, all of this hopefully leading to a positive pregnancy test. The increase in frozen embryo transfers over the past several years has led to different acupuncture treatment recommendations based upon whether somebody is preparing for an egg retrieval or the actual embryo transfer.

Ultimately, one of the biggest ways that acupuncture helps IVF outcomes is by improving blood flow to the pelvic cavity. The length of time with that improved blood flow needed to help chances of conception varies depending on where you are in your IVF cycle. As a general rule, any supplement or intervention such as acupuncture needs about 90 days to work on your ovaries prior to an egg retrieval. This just has to do with when all of those little follicles filled with eggs start getting a blood supply and hormone receptors. So, if you have time to adjust diet and lifestyle habits before your egg retrieval, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor. When you are preparing for an embryo transfer, the preparation focus is geared towards your uterine lining, which doesn’t need as much time to respond positively to acupuncture.

The most recent research on acupuncture and IVF shows the best outcomes with 9-12 treatments before an egg retrieval and 4-6 treatments before an embryo transfer. Timewise, this translates to about 3 months or 4-6 weeks, respectively, give or take a week or two. I know what some of you might be thinking as you read this: ‘but I don’t have that much time’ or ‘I already started stimulation, so what then?’ As I tell everyone who asks me this question, there are the ideal recommendations and then there’s real life. Maybe you didn’t even hear about acupuncture until the day before your egg retrieval. Maybe you just couldn’t get an appointment until the day before your transfer. Regardless, any amount of treatment is better than none and will be helpful for you no matter when you started it.

Are you getting ready for an IVF cycle and looking for holistic support along the way? Schedule a free 15-minute consultation to talk about how he can help you meet your goals.



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