Fertility & IVF Support
Are you ready to start a family? Or have you been trying to fall pregnant for a while? No matter where you are at in your fertility journey, Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture may be a useful addition. At Sakura Acupuncture Clinic, we offer an integrative approach to healthcare, working alongside other healthcare practitioners when required to achieve your goals. Our holistic approach also supports your emotional balance and general wellbeing.
What is Infertility?
Infertility affects an overwhelming number of the Australian population with an estimated 1 in 6 couples suffering fertility problems according to IVF Australia. An infertile couple can be defined as unable to conceive after actively trying for a minimum period of 12 months (WHO 2018). Additionally, subfertility is classified as decreased fertility with factors such as low sperm count or damaged fallopian tubes, reducing the chances of falling pregnant.
Infertility can be caused by many factors or disease states in both men and women including; hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, PCOS, low sperm count, sperm morphology and other factors. It is primarily investigated through biomedical testing including blood tests to measure hormone levels. Western medicine’s treatment focus is dependent upon the cause and may include hormonal pharmacological therapy, In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) or other forms of Assisted Reproductive Technologies.
The male reproductive system requires good quality and quantity of sperm to fertilise an egg which can be investigated through a semen analysis. Additionally, a blood test may be conducted to assess the levels of testosterone, luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture when used to support natural fertility provides a holistic treatment incorporating:
- Chinese Medicine diagnosis
- Interpretation of Biomedical test results
- Lifestyle factors
- Dietary factors
- Emotional factors
Acupuncture may be used to help support your body’s natural processes no matter where you are in your journey, your first baby or your fifth.
Chinese medicine offers a holistic view of the body, incorporating mind, body and spirit. Diet and lifestyle are also important aspects to achieving optimal fertility, and your practitioner will guide you with some recommendations.
During your consultation your practitioner will assess the way your whole body is functioning and thoroughly assess your menstrual cycle to gain a comprehensive understanding of where your body is at, allowing for an accurate TCM diagnosis.
Generally, we recommend visiting your TCM practitioner before actively trying for a baby, to optimise the health potential of both partners and bring the body’s systems into balance. For women, acupuncture has been shown to help create a nutrient rich uterine environment, ideal for nourishing and supporting a developing baby (1).
Evidence also suggests that acupuncture helps to improve fertility outcomes by regulating the neuroendocrinological factors which influence ovulation and the menstrual cycle (2), as well as reducing the stress, anxiety and depression that may also be having an impact (3).
Acupuncture is also thought to positively affect the HPA Axis, and influence cortisol and prolactin levels, which could lead to increased rates of pregnancy.
The aim of acupuncture during an IVF cycle is to support your wellbeing during a time that is both physically and emotionally demanding. Acupuncture treatments may assist during the preparation and duration of your IVF cycle, with wisdom from Traditional Chinese Medicine complementing modern medical processes. Using an integrated approach, we work alongside your other healthcare providers and deliver individualised treatments throughout the course of your IVF journey.
When used as an adjunct to IVF treatment, acupuncture may help in the following ways:
Prior to transfer – A growing number of studies have shown that TCM is helpful in increasing blood flow to the uterus and endometrium, which when used in conjunction with western medicine increases positive outcomes (5). It is also useful in encouraging physical and mental relaxation (6).
Post transfer – Acupuncture at this time is designed to support the healthy implantation of the embryo, improve the health of endometrial tissue and blood flow to support a pregnancy, minimise any discomfort from the transfer and create a calm environment in the uterus. Several trials have suggested that acupuncture within one day of embryo transfer improved rates of pregnancy and live birth (4).
Several trials showed that acupuncture used as an adjunct to IVF was associated with improved rates of pregnancy and live birth (4)
Going through IVF can trigger many different emotions and acupuncture provides natural support, to help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as calm and nurture. After your initial consultation a treatment plan including lifestyle and dietary recommendations is made for each patient or couple. To read more about current acupuncture research, please see the research articles listed below.
Can I get acupuncture while undergoing other treatments?
Yes. Acupuncture may be used alone or as an adjunct therapy to other fertility treatment methods. It is generally considered safe when provided by a registered TCM practitioner, providing natural support throughout your fertility journey.
Does my partner need to accompany me?
It is encouraged that both partners receive acupuncture treatment to support optimal fertility health.
- The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: a pilot study. Balk J, Catov J, Horn B, Gecsi K, Wakim A. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010 Aug; 16(3):154-157.