Many couples planning to embark on IVF treatment, now consider the use of acupuncture to improve their chances of success. You may already have read some of the remarkably positive research findings of the last few years. Here is a brief overview of the subject but for a more detailed explanation of what acupuncture in support of IVF entails, please see my fuller IVF article, which is followed by research results.
The British Acupuncture Council has produced an up-to-date review of the evidence base for acupuncture for IVF and ICSI, which you can download here.
The causes of infertility frequently defy clear western medical explanation. However, a traditional Chinese medical consultation may point towards one or more causes; these can translate in non-medical terminology, to things such as stress or overwork, or sometimes other, more subtle disharmonies of body, mind or spirit, are identified.
Ideally, my preference would be to see you weekly for at least three menstrual cycles before IVF treatment begins. This is in order to prepare your body for IVF. This might not be possible if you are on the brink of beginning your IVF cycle and have only just heard about the benefits of acupuncture: in this case, do not be put off and at least arrange some acupuncture to improve your chances of success, and to help with any stress and anxiety you may be feeling.
Bear in mind IVF may circumvent ovulation problems and failure of sperm to fertilise the egg, but it still relies on the embryo then successfully implanting. For this to happen, your womb lining must be receptive and sufficiently thick. My treatment approach is therefore to try to encourage a thick womb lining, whilst also trying to put you into the best possible state of overall health in the time available. It makes sense to me that an embryo is more likely to implant into a receptive womb within a healthy body.
Male partners too can benefit from acupuncture. About 50% of IVF procedures are now performed due to some problem with the sperm, such as poor characteristics or unsuccessful vasectomy reversals.