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Embryo transfer acupuncture

IVF

The Fertility Pregnancy Acupuncture Clinic, located in Spring Hill in Brisbane, provides acupuncture treatments for women who are having fresh or frozen embryo transfers. Our clinic is located in close proximity to both the City Fertility, Life Fertility and Queensland Fertility Group day surgeries in Spring Hill where the embryo transfers take place. We see many women from interstate or regional areas who are travelling to Brisbane for their fertility treatment on the day of embryo transfer (who are unable to see their own acupuncturist) due to the convenient location.

Currently 3 million people in Australia (1) have infertility issues but In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is gradually helping, with 12,637 IVF babies born in 2013. IVF still has a low success rate with 21.6% resulting in pregnancy and 16.5% achieving a live birth (in Australia). So many women look to improve their chances with complementary treatments such as acupuncture. Although IVF is only a recent intervention, infertility is not. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been treating gynaecology and fertility issues for over 2000 years.

Some studies have shown that acupuncture treatments for both pre and post embryo transfers have resulted in an increase in pregnancy rates (1) whilst others have shown no benefit. In 2002 (2) the first randomised controlled trial for the use of acupuncture with IVF was carried out. In this study they found a significant increase in pregnancy rates in the acupuncture group. Since that study there have been 34 randomised controlled trials and 12 meta-analysis, however results are conflicting. The conflict in the findings of the studies could be due to the diversity of the studies and include factors such as:

  • Timing of acupuncture performed
  • The type of control used (no treatment, sham, placebo)
  • The points used
  • Addition of moxibustion or ear acupuncture
  • Who performed the acupuncture
  • Variety of interventions (acupuncture, ear acupuncture, laser, electro acupuncture, ear seeds, transcutaneous electrical acupuncture)
  • Outcome measures

 

The latest systematic review and meta-analysis (21 RCT’s) (3) of acupuncture and IVF involved different time points to produce a more accurate estimate of the effect of acupuncture. Even though the studies are of low quality, the latest review did conclude that acupuncture can improve pregnancy rates when performed at follicle phase and around embryo transfer and 30 minutes after embryo transfer and implantation phase. Further high quality research is needed in the area of the timing of the acupuncture treatments, outcome measures and greater focus on controls

As such, the jury is out as to whether your chances of a pregnancy are improved if you have acupuncture as further good quality research is required. However, this lack of formal evidence does not deter many women from utilising acupuncture treatments to increase their pregnancy chances. The treatment prior to the transfer is designed to increase blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, relax the uterus and cervix to assist with the transfer and help you relax. The treatment after your embryo transfer aims to relax the uterus to prevent cramping or contractions to assist with implantation.Destress

Because the research suggests the optimal time for the acupuncture treatments is as close to the transfer time as possible, we offer early morning treatments to accommodate this if required. However, if this is not possible for you then the evening prior is also beneficial. For those women who are attending one of the Spring Hill hospitals where possible we schedule your pre-transfer for 60 minutes prior to your transfer to allow 45 minutes for the treatment and time for you to get to your hospital without rushing. If your transfer is not nearby we will adjust the time to ensure you have time for travel. We then ask you to return as soon as possible post transfer which will take another 45-60 minutes for the second treatment.

During the acupuncture treatment, we have a meditation available for you to listen to, specific for the pre- and post-transfer. The Zita West guided relaxation meditation aims to “not only relax but to also positively visualise the amazing process that your body is experiencing. Latest research suggests that the success rate of IVF and ICSI may be improved by using relaxation and positive visualisation techniques, both by themselves and along with acupuncture, during the pre and post transfer stages” (4). If you prefer, we have a relaxing playlist of music to listen to or can be turned off as well.

Other ways to prepare for embryo transfer include decreasing stress, sex, keeping warm, and gentle exercise. Read our blog post for more details.

Many clients like to use our online booking system but this can be difficult to schedule yourselves, so please just call or email us and we can arrange it for you. We are often here outside of our official openings hours to accommodate your transfer times.

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Reference

1. National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit: University New South Wales 2015, Assisted Reproductive Technology in Australia and New Zealand 2015https://npesu.unsw.edu.au/surveillance/assisted-reproductive-technology-australia-and-new-zealand-2015

2. Paulus, WE, Zhang, M, Strehler, E, El-Danasouri, I & Sterzik, K 2002, ‘Influence of Acupuncture on the Pregnancy Rate in Patients Who Undergo Assisted Reproduction Therapy’, Fertility and Sterility, vol. 77, no. 4, pp. 721–724, http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(01)03273-3/fulltext

3. Shen, C, Wu, M, Shu, D, Zhao, X & Gao, Y 2015, ‘The Role of Acupuncture in in vitro Fertilization: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis’, Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, vol. 79, no. 1, pp. 1–12, https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/362231.

4. West, Z 2017, ‘Guided Relaxation Download for IVF’, http://www.zitawest.com/product/guided-relaxation-for-ivf/