heart over pregnant belly

For many families, having a baby requires medical assistance. According to a 2017 report by the U.S. Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), 1 million babies have been born in the United States between 1987 and 2015 through the use of IVF or other assisted reproductive technologies.

While the topic of IVF and IUI as well as donor assisted and surrogate birth is being more openly discussed, the process is far from easy. The physical, emotional and financial strain reproductive assistance methods like IVF can place upon individuals and families is significant. These burdens can create enormous stress on your mind and therefore your body, which is the last thing you need to deal with on top of everything else you are going through preparing for your FET or donor FET. Exercise, meditation and acupuncture are a few methods that can be extremely effective for reducing stress, thereby creating a more harmonious environment to support and grow your little miracle.

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Considering the enormous investment, both financial and emotional, it makes sense to attempt to create the best conditions possible for your body to accept and welcome this process. Acupuncture may help improve chances for having successful IVF transfers. According to a 2018 randomized controlled trial, in which 157 women were randomized to receive either acupuncture treatment three times in the treatment cycle in addition to a standard IVF protocol (n = 79) or no acupuncture treatment (n = 78) in their first or second IVF cycle, a per-protocol analysis revealed that the rate of live births (27/64, 42% vs. 11/69, 15.94%, P = 0.001) and positive pregnancy tests (34/64, 53% vs. 19/69, 27.53%, P = 0.013) were significantly higher in the acupuncture group compared with the control group.

Gillerman K, Kulkarni A, Shah A, Gudi A, Homburg R. The impact of acupuncture on IVF success rates: A randomised controlled trial. Fertil Sci Res 2018;5:48-54

It is recommended to start acupuncture prior to starting your ART cycle. Starting weekly treatment 3 months before is ideal, but not absolutely necessary. If you have concerns about your timeline and when you are starting acupuncture, talking with your practitioner to design a plan that will optimize what acupuncture can offer leading up to your transfer is recommended. Once IVF stimulation begins, you should have 3-4 treatments between stim injection and retrieval, with treatment between day 6 and 8 being optimal. Specifics for treatment will be further based on your specific situation leading up to your retrieval and transfer days. Treatment is often continued after transfer and through the first trimester to promote implantation, improve blood flow, reduce stress and help mitigate symptoms of early pregnancy.

Tara Pierce has been providing acupuncture treatment for women undergoing IVF, IUI and helping women optimize their egg retrievals for future IVF cycles in the Newport Beach area since 2012. Depending on your fertility clinic’s rules, Dr. Pierce may travel to perform acupuncture before and after your IVF transfer if allowed by your physician’s office. For questions please contact Tara via email or call the office (949)300-2028.