Fertility & IVF - Rebalance Chinese Medicine

What is IVF? IVF refers to in vitro fertilisation and is a technique used to assist a woman to fall pregnant.

A human egg is fertilised in a laboratory and then implanted into a woman’s uterus. If the embryo implants into the lining of the uterus then the woman will fall pregnant. How do you know if you actually need IVF? Many clients who come to me are not actually sure if they need IVF yet or not. The recent recommendations are as follows: Younger than 30 (both partners) if you have been trying for a year or more, without achieving a pregnancy – please see your Doctor.

If you are over 30 (both partners) – if you have been trying to conceive for 6 months or more – please see your Doctor. If you are unsure about whether or not you need IVF then here is a checklist you can also use: ss because your specialist will be clearer on what’s going on, or that you fall pregnant naturally. Pre IVF checklist: Have you been given a diagnosis as to why you can’t get pregnant? Females – have you had a: – Hormone panel test done – Day 3 and day 21 hormone test Vitamin D and iron studies Thyroid function test – TSH, free T3, Free T4 and thyroid antibodies. Tubal patency test and ultrasound.

Males – have you tested SPERM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the major test that I need to see. FBC, Iron studies, Thyroid studies, Vit D Hormone panel – FSH, LH, SHBG, Testosterone, progesterone Another question to ask is – do you have a history of undescended testicles, any accidents to the groin or testes, any previous torsions – as these can all affect sperm. If you would like to read through this checklist in more detail you can refer to our blog “What you should consider before you start IVF.’ How can acupuncture assist with IVF? Acupuncture can improve pregnancy success rates with IVF and IUI. We work closely to follow and support the plan put together by you and your reproductive specialist.

Acupuncture may help to assist IVF / IUI and a medicated cycle by:
 increasing implantation rates after IUI and with an IVF embryo transfer
 increasing rate of pregnancy
 improving egg quality & increasing ovarian responsiveness
 nourishing the uterine lining and normalizing reproductive hormones
 improving blood flow to the ovaries & uterus
 improving sperm count, morphology, & motility
 prevent miscarriage, early pregnancy loss, and lower ectopic pregnancy rates
 decrease side effects of medication (such as fatigue, hotflashes, abdominal cramping and mood swings)
 reduce stress and anxiety to improve fertility It is ideal for a woman to begin treatment 3 months prior to the time she wants to conceive.

The 3 months enables us to prepare the body for conception. It gives us enough time to normalize a cycle if there are irrugularies, improve the uterine lining by building up blood and also increases the chances of a healthy baby and pregnancy. We address any issues with your period during this time, as well as working on the improving your egg quality. This is achieved in combination with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle changes and supplements may also be given. We recommend taking a prenatal vitamin supplement 4 months prior to beginning your IVF/ IUI cycle. For males and for male sperm donors, our treatment plan is very similar. We always ask you to get your Sperm tested alongside hormones and other blood tests to have a look at the health and the quality of the sperm. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are used to enable us to improve the quality of the sperm – with a focus on sperm morphology, motility and overall volume and progressive motility (this means the sperm need to be moving forward and not in circles).

It takes 4 months for sperm to develop in the testes, so we do recommend for males, beginning about 6 months prior to an IUI or IVF cycle, as this gives us at least 1 cycle of growth to monitor how sperm is improving. We also recommend diet and lifestyle changes based on your individual needs and incorporate supplements as well. We will also provide you with a healthy sperm smoothie, which is packed full of antioxidants, selenium, zinc and omega fatty acids, which all assist with sperm production. Treatment for males or the male sperm donor is once a week for a at least 3 months prior to an IUI / IVF cycle, especially if there have been issues with sperm quality previously. Often when a woman is undergoing ART she comes in the month that the procedure is beginning.

At this point treatments are 1-3 times per week for the duration of the cycle. No Chinese herbs are prescribed. Diet and lifestyle changes can be made and side effects from the medication mitigated. After the procedure the focus changes to supporting implantation and preventing miscarriage. Recent studies have shown that there is a higher chance of a healthy baby after IVF when Whole Systems TCM has been added to the cycle. This means acupuncture alongside Chinese Herbal Medicine, with changes in lifestyle and diet according to Traditional Chinese Medicine yields better results! Men’s Fertility Men’s fertility acupuncture works in much the same way as it does for women. Research has shown that 40% of fertility cases are female factor, 40% male factor and 20% unknown. Chinese medicine has a long history of supporting male fertility, virility and longevity. Common issues such as low motility, morphology, and count, erectile dysfunction and low libido are direct markers of men’s future cardiovascular and overall health. By treating the root cause of the dysfunction the fertility issues resolve and overall health is restored. We use an integrative approach in treating male reproductive and sexual health.

We recommend that all male partners be evaluated according to Chinese medicine. Men’s fertility acupuncture helps:
 improve sperm count
 improve sperm motility
 decrease in sperm DNA fragmentation
 resolve infection
 Increase libido
 increase semen quantity
 decrease mind and body stress
 address genetic factors

Acupuncture Treatment Recommendations Men in general respond quickly to treatments with acupuncture. The quality and quality of sperm can be impacted more easily then the quality of eggs in women. This is because sperm are produced and mature much quicker than an egg matures in women.

We suggest:
 Weekly acupuncture session for 3 months for most conditions.
 We recommend a minimum of 1 treatment around women’s ovulation for natural conception.
 We also recommend a minimum of one treatment within 24 hours of a sperm sample that will be given for IUI or IVF.

Acupuncture treatment around the time a sample is given has been shown produce better results than without acupuncture. Diet and Lifestyle to Improve fertility Because male fertility and sexual health is a marker of overall health our approach is holistic. We advise herbs and supplements in most cases.

We will address common practices that reduce fertility like:
 Poor diet
 Cycling and over exercise
 Poor sleep and sleep hygiene
 Stress
 Overwork
 Hormonal imbalances

We will also refer on to an Andrologist if you need further assistance. We will ask questions such as have you had mumps, an undescended testis, torsion of the testes or any injury to the testes. These can all impact your fertility, and if you don’t know, ask your mum prior to an appointment if there were any issues with your testes when you were little. Lower back injuries can also affect men’s fertility. In my experience I have found that using body work such as massage, osteopathy, chiropractic and reflexology can also work hand in hand with our TCM treatments and assist with realigning the body back to its natural state of health.

IVF Support with Acupuncture Preparation for an IVF cycle It is best to begin acupuncture and herbal treatments three months before your IVF cycle begins. This becomes especially important if there has been a previous unsuccessful IUI/ IVF cycle. If this is not possible, begin treatment as soon as possible in your IVF cycle. 

We work closely with local fertility clinics and are very familiar with the process and how acupuncture can increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and child. This is important for both partners, as we can also improve the motility, morphology and sperm count of the male partner, or of your sperm donor – in conjunction with a holistic approach, this incorporates acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle changes and also supplements. Once your IVF cycle begins we use scientifically proven protocols to compliment each phase and maximize your success. 

We choose your treatments based on your age, reproductive history, and reaction to your IVF protocols. Treatments are given 1-3 times a week per cycle. We recommend starting acupuncture weekly 3 months prior to the procedure. We highly advise a treatment within 4 hours of the transfer to assist with implantation of the embryo. This can be either before or after your transfer. In my experience, an acupuncture session prior to your transfer has proven to be effective for assisting my clients to feel much calmer, decrease their anxiety and stress levels and gives them a bit of time to do a quick meditation in preparation for their transfer. 

Uterine Lining and Egg Quality Whether acupuncture is started three months prior to the beginning of an IVF cycle or one week prior to transfer, the focus on the treatments will be to improve the egg quality and increase blood flow to the uterus promoting the formation of a healthy uterine lining. Without a high quality egg it is impossible to have a high quality, viable embryo. Decreased blood flow to the uterus has been associated with high failure rates of IVF cycles. Acupuncture on the Day of Embryo Transfer There have been numerous studies that have shown the increased success of a transfer when combined with acupuncture as soon as possible after the procedure. Acupuncture at this time is designed to assist in implantation of the embryo in the uterus. In 2001, a landmark study led by Wolfgang Paulus was published in Fertility and Sterility, which showed that acupuncture increased the clinical pregnancy rates of IVF. 

The results showed that 42.5% of the patients who received acupuncture became pregnant versus 26.5% who did not. Stress Stress is often a factor associated with an assisted reproduction cycle. Acupuncture is very beneficial to reduce stress and anxiety and its effects on the body as well as decrease side effects from Western fertility medications used through an IVF cycle. Acupuncture After the Embryo Transfer Conception is just the first step toward the birth of a healthy child. After the transfer of the embryo the focus of treatment is on creating an optimal environment for the embryo. Assisted reproduction technologies have been associated with higher incidences of complications during pregnancy. We recommend acupuncture 1-2 times per week post transfer through the first trimester. The focus is to assist implantation and prevent miscarriage, moderate immunological factors, increase energy, and prevent pregnancy complications. 

Preparation for an IVF cycle

It is best to begin acupuncture and herbal treatments three months before your IVF cycle begins. This becomes especially important if there has been a previous unsuccessful IUI/ IVF cycle. If this is not possible, begin treatment as soon as possible in your IVF cycle. We work closely with local fertility clinics and are very familiar with the process and how acupuncture can increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and child.
This is important for both partners, as we can also improve the motility, morphology and sperm count of the male partner, or of your sperm donor – in conjunction with a holistic approach, this incorporates acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle changes and also supplements.
Once your IVF cycle begins we use scientifically proven protocols to compliment each phase and maximize your success. We choose your treatments based on your age, reproductive history, and reaction to your IVF protocols. Treatments are given 1-3 times a week per cycle. We recommend starting acupuncture weekly 3 months prior to the procedure. We highly advise a treatment within 4 hours of the transfer to assist with implantation of the embryo. This can be either before or after your transfer. In my experience, an acupuncture session prior to your transfer has proven to be effective for assisting my clients to feel much calmer, decrease their anxiety and stress levels and gives them a bit of time to do a quick meditation in preparation for their transfer.

Uterine Lining and Egg Quality
Whether acupuncture is started three months prior to the beginning of an IVF cycle or one week prior to transfer, the focus on the treatments will be to improve the egg quality and increase blood flow to the uterus promoting the formation of a healthy uterine lining. Without a high quality egg it is impossible to have a high quality, viable embryo. Decreased blood flow to the uterus has been associated with high failure rates of IVF cycles.
Acupuncture on the Day of Embryo Transfer
There have been numerous studies that have shown the increased success of a transfer when combined with acupuncture as soon as possible after the procedure. Acupuncture at this time is designed to assist in implantation of the embryo in the uterus.
In 2001, a landmark study led by Wolfgang Paulus was published in Fertility and Sterility, which showed that acupuncture increased the clinical pregnancy rates of IVF. The results showed that 42.5% of the patients who received acupuncture became pregnant versus 26.5% who did not.

Stress
Stress is often a factor associated with an assisted reproduction cycle. Acupuncture is very beneficial to reduce stress and anxiety and its effects on the body as well as decrease side effects from Western fertility medications used through an IVF cycle.


Acupuncture After the Embryo Transfer
Conception is just the first step toward the birth of a healthy child. After the transfer of the embryo the focus of treatment is on creating an optimal environment for the embryo. Assisted reproduction technologies have been associated with higher incidences of complications during pregnancy. We recommend acupuncture 1-2 times per week post transfer through the first trimester. The focus is to assist implantation and prevent miscarriage, moderate immunological factors, increase energy, and prevent pregnancy complications.

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