There are so many options available to us that can optimize our our fertility and support an IVF cycle.
I was reminded, after reading The Telomere Effect, how important diet, lifestyle, coping with stress and healthy social relationships are in allowing our cells (including egg and sperm cells) to flourish. Chinese medicine is not just acupuncture but also diet, lifestyle (rest, sleep, exercise), stress reduction and herbs. I know the question is about acupuncture but I want to remind all the readers how important your daily activities (diet, lifestyle, stress, relationships) can impact your fertility potential.
I want to separate the question from how much you can afford to how much has been shown to be beneficial. I will leave it to each of you to decide how much you want to spend on IVF, herbs, acupuncture, groceries, etc and stay focused on what works. Then you can decide if the value id there and if you can afford to use it or not.
This question comes at a good timing as I am leaving next week to teach at a conference in Tel Aviv on acupuncture protocols to optimize fertility whether TTC naturally or with IVF. So the current research is at top of mind right now. Plus I will share below some new research I came across on using cold laser (LLLT) for "severe infertility" during the cycles (not just on transfer day) and which we are fortunate to offer at Acubalance because we happen to own 3 of these lasers that can
How many times for acupuncture?
Acupuncture is dosage dependent. The research indicates receiving acupuncture over 3 cycles is most beneficial. The IVF studies (fresh and frozen) show a higher live birth rate when done 9-12 session before transfer. Lee Hullender Rubin's retrospective study showed an increase in the odds of a live birth when a whole systems traditional Chinese medicine approach (WSTCM) was followed compared to acupuncture only on transfer day or IVF only (no acupuncture).
WSTCM included a min of 12 acupuncture visits PLUS duet and or supplements and or herbs and or mind body. You may notice this sounds a lot like what I described above as the definition of Chinese medicine. More importantly, Hullender-Rubin's study is how most practitioners practice which makes it valuable. Many studies just look at the acupuncture. Her study looked at who acupuncture is practiced and it showed a significant increase in the odds ratio of a live birth.
How acupuncture helps
1.Increases blood flow to reproductive system
4.Improves sperm quality and quantity
5.Increases live birth rates for ART
– (IVF/FET/Donor egg cycles)
Now here is some exciting information that is new for me. At Acubalance we have a cold laser that we use on transfer day. An abstract was published showing a 15% increase in implantation. This part is not new as we have been offering this since 2009. During my preparation for mt Te l Aviv talk I came across some literature and research in using the laser to treat severe infertility. One study demonstrated a 22% pregnancy rate and 50% live birth rate in this challenging population of 'severe infertility'. The study protocol was repeated but with a stronger laser and they also applied the laser in one more treatment area in addition to the original study and saw 66% success rate. I will be using my laser more often in clinic now. One note on lasers. They are not all created equal. Power and wave length matter. My laser is $18,000. My colleague consulted with this week as she wanted to use her $300 laser on her infertility patients. Based on the power she would need to hold the laser for at least 30 minutes on each point. Not practical or going to happen as the protocol in study one would take her over 3 hours per patient and over a day in a study two with her laser.
If you want to reach your peak fertility potential and use acupuncture to increase your chances of success for a healthy baby then I suggest the following.
- Follow a fertility diet - anti-inflammatory/low glycemic whole foods diet - http://acubalance.ca...-fertility-diet
- If your practitioner is skilled in Chinese herbs take them
- practice mind body stress reduction techniques
- Work on healthy social relationships (family, friends, neighbors and work)
- acupuncture 2/week for 3 months.
- If they have a laser (powerful enough to provide you the Joules in under an hour) then ask for it. We are now using it at Acubalance.
- Read book Telomere Effect (It validates what Chinese medicine documented 2500 years about diet and lifestyle and only now validated by modern science.
- Read http://acupuncturepr...ve-egg-quality/
- watch 5 minute video on Acubalance egg quality page - http://acubalance.ca...ent/egg-quality
What if you are just starting stimulation drugs or your retrieval transfer is less then 3 months away?
Do what you can. Acupuncture alone is not the answer. You also need diet, lifestyle etc. Look at this way when thinking about how much acupuncture. If you found out you had an exam in 2 weeks do you study hard and try to pass and even ace the exam or do you choose not to study and take the exam and hope for the best? Studying 2-3 times week for 3 months usually will get you a better grade than cramming 2 weeks before. But cramming 2 weeks before is better than not doing an exam prep at all. So if you are reading this and you have an IVF coming up soon and you want acupuncture then see if you can go 2-3 per week until retrieval/transfer.
In summary acupuncture, Chinese herbs and LLLT Cold laser can help by
- Increase blood supply (oxygen and nutrients) to the follicles with electro acupuncture
- Increase mitochondrial ATP output with certain Chinese herbs and low level laser light
- Enhance antioxidant defences with certain Chinese herbs and low level laser light.
And 2Brides.....If you have a fear of needles.... there is always cold laser instead of needles. At Acubalance we now use both but we have some patients who do not like needles and just get the laser.
Good luck everyone. I wish you were all in Vancouver so m and my team could offer you more support.