Infertility is more common than we think. Statistics have shown that 40% of married Singaporean couples who are actively trying for a baby are “not happy” with their progress. Many factors such as stress in our lives, our sedentary lifestyle, chemicals and toxins from our environment or the food we eat, may cause infertility.
To help more couples fulfil their baby dreams, Oriental Remedies Group will be sharing a series of articles on fertility issues, for both male and female fertility. Whether you are:
- Trying to conceive naturally
- Going through assisted reproductive technology such as IUI
- Preparing or going through IVF, fresh or FET cycle
We will share how TCM can be used to help condition the body for conception naturally and via assisted reproductive technology such as IUI and IVF. The path towards conception can be long and daunting and we hope to help educate and bring practical solutions for couples.
For this specific article, we will look at how TCM can help the female during the IVF process.
Fertility Series: Acupuncture for females during IVF
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a laboratory. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs (embryos) are transferred to a uterus. One full cycle of IVF takes about three weeks. Sometimes these steps are split into different parts and the process can take longer.
How can acupuncture help?
Research has proven that TCM can help condition your body and therefore increase the success rates with IVF. This can be done through various ways such as through taking herbal medication and acupuncture. In this article, we will discuss how acupuncture complements IVF.
1) Effect on Ovarian Follicles
Acupuncture has positive effects on ovarian follicles and assists in ovulation. Modern medicine believes that acupuncture helps to regulate the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis system, which improves the secretion of various hormones such as the follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, estradiol, progesterone etc.3. This enhances ovulation in the individuals4.
Farnoosh Bidouee’s study5 on acupuncture in 120 infertile patients who received artificial insemination discovered that ovulation is improved after acupuncture.
2) Effect on Ovaries
During IVF, follicular growth after ovulation induction is dependent on the blood supply of the ovaries. Studies 6,7 have shown that acupuncture in IVF patients increases the blood flow to the ovaries as compared to the placebo acupuncture group and control group. Therefore, acupuncture can improve the blood circulation in the ovaries and uterus, which helps to promote the growth and development of follicles.
3) Effect on Endometrial Receptivity
Endometrial receptivity is a temporally unique sequence of factors that make the endometrium receptive to embryonic implantation. It is closely related to the success of implantation and pregnancy. Various conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome and luteal insufficiency can affect endometrial receptivity. Zhong et al8 has concluded that acupuncture is effective and safe to use in women with low endometrial receptivity, thereby increasing the chances of pregnancy.
4) Effect on Emotions
IVF is a process that can be emotionally intense and stressful for the couple, especially so for the female who has to go through hormonal changes, side effects of drugs and potential complications of the medical treatment. The most common psychological challenges of infertile patients are depression and anxiety9. These adverse emotions may be due to various factors such as high treatment cost, frequent blood draws, intramuscular injections, side effects of various complications etc.
A number of studies 9,10 have shown that consecutive sessions of acupuncture from the day of injection of gonadotropin till HCG day, can reduce the excitability of the sympathetic nervous system, relieving negative emotions which aids in increasing the pregnancy rate.
All couples who are preparing to start a family naturally or for those who are undergoing assisted reproductive technology, such as IUI and IVF can benefit from doing acupuncture to condition their bodies.
What is the treatment schedule for acupuncture in IVF patients?
Timing is essential during IVF and therefore there is also a recommended treatment schedule for acupuncture on IVF patients. The schedule is as below:
Your journey is the most important
In Oriental Remedies Group, we have more than 10 certified bi-lingual TCM Physicians. Each of them has been trained in both Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and China for a minimum of 5-8 years, in both Biomedical Science and TCM before being certified to practice in Singapore. Specifically, we have Physician Poh who specializes in female fertility, gynaecological conditions and beauty.
IVF is a procedure that takes time, effort and great determination. The chances of success if higher when the female further prepares her body for the procedure. With current research on how acupuncture complements IVF, we hope to be able to help more females trying for IVF.
Do contact us at +65 8742 2163 for a personalized consultation to help you with your worries.
Also, when it comes to fertility, it really does taks two hands to clap. The male partner who does his part to ensure that the sperm quality is optimal for use during IVF increases the couple’s chances. Do refer to our earlier article by male fertility expert, Physician Lim, to find out more about improving male fertility in order to improve quality of sperm – Improving Male Fertility Using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
For those who wants to start a family naturally and wants to find out how you can prepare yourself and your partner, do also look out for our other articles on fertility.
The content on this page is for informational and educational purposes only. Such medical information may relate to disease, injury, drugs and other treatments, medical devices and/or health products. Medical information does not amount to advice, and if advice is needed an appropriate professional help should be sought. The disclaimer asserts that no warranties or representations are given in respect of the medical information, and that the website operator should not be held liable if a user suffers any injury or loss after relying upon the medical information.
3- 李露 and 周惠芳, 针药结合促排卵在辅助生育技术中的优势. 辽宁中医药大学学报, 2011. 13(3): p. 216-218.
4- 郭建芳, 刘涓, and 石萍, 针灸调经法治疗排卵障碍性不孕症临床观察. 中国中医药信息杂志, 2012. 1: p. 031.
5- Bidouee, F., 针灸辅助胞浆内单精子注射人工受精的临床疗效观察. 2010, 北京中医药大学.
6- 徐铮铮, 针刺对接受IVF/ICSI患者的卵巢血供及妊娠结局的影响. 2010, 华中科技大学.
7- 陈雪梅 and 高颖, 针刺疗法运用于辅助生殖技术对提高子宫内膜容受性的研究. 成都医学院学报, 2013. 7(02Z): p. 106-106.
9- Smith, C.A., et al., The effect of acupuncture on psychosocial outcomes for women experiencing infertility: a pilot randomized controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med, 2011. 17(10): p. 923-30.
10- 孙振高, et al., 补肾疏肝中药联合针刺对体外受精-胚胎移植患者焦虑抑郁情绪及手术结局的影响. 中国中西医结合杂志, 2012. 32(8): p. 1023-1027.