Tag Archive for: IVF

Relationship Between Acupuncture and IVF

A Brief History of the Relationship Between Acupuncture and IVF

Introduction

In the journey to parenthood, many couples and individuals explore various methods to enhance their fertility. Two such methods, acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), have become increasingly intertwined over the years.

While IVF is a marvel of modern medical technology, acupuncture is rooted in ancient Chinese medicine. Together, they form a holistic approach that many fertility seekers find both effective and reassuring.

Historical Background

Acupuncture dates back thousands of years and is a cornerstone of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to balance energy flow, known as “Qi.” For centuries, acupuncture has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including fertility issues. Ancient texts document its use in regulating menstrual cycles and enhancing reproductive health.

In the early 2000s, the medical community began to recognize the potential benefits of combining acupuncture and IVF treatments. Acupuncture was found to help alleviate some of the side effects associated with fertility medications, such as thinning of the endometrial lining, which is crucial for successful embryo transfer. This integration marked the beginning of a significant partnership between the two methods, providing hope to many seeking to expand their families.

Acupuncture and IVF in the Early 2000s

As IVF became more refined in the early 2000s, the role of acupuncture evolved alongside it. Initially, acupuncture was used to support the administration of early medications for egg priming. Patients undergoing fresh embryo transfers found that acupuncture could mitigate side effects, making the process more comfortable and potentially more successful.

During this period, acupuncture was not just an adjunct treatment; it became a vital component of the fertility journey for many. Its ability to enhance blood flow to the reproductive organs, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being made it a popular choice among those undergoing IVF.

Fertility specialists frequently observed that patients who incorporated acupuncture into their IVF treatment “just did better,” experiencing higher success rates and fewer complications.

The Shift to Frozen Transfers

As IVF technology advanced, frozen embryo transfers (FET) became more common. Although the process shifted, the benefits of acupuncture remained relevant. Acupuncture continued to play a crucial role in:

  • Increasing blood flow to the ovaries: This support enhanced the growth of eggs and improved ovarian function.
  • Calming patients: Reducing anxiety is essential for a successful IVF cycle, and acupuncture’s calming effects were invaluable.
  • Mitigating medication side effects: Patients often experienced fewer adverse reactions when combining acupuncture with their IVF protocol.

Reproductive endocrinologists (REs) consistently noted that their patients who received acupuncture alongside IVF treatments exhibited better outcomes, reinforcing the importance of this combined approach.

Acupuncture and Fertility: How It Works

Acupuncture impacts the body’s systems in several ways, which can be particularly beneficial for fertility:

  • Hormonal Balance: Acupuncture can help balance hormones by regulating the endocrine system, which is critical for ovulation and implantation.
  • Improved Blood Flow: Enhanced circulation to the reproductive organs optimizes their function and creates a more conducive environment for embryo implantation.
  • Stress Reduction: Managing stress levels is crucial during fertility treatments. Acupuncture promotes relaxation and reduces cortisol levels, improving overall mental and physical well-being.

These physiological benefits make acupuncture a valuable ally in supporting IVF processes.

Evidence and Studies

Research on the combined approach of acupuncture and IVF has yielded promising results. Key findings include:

  • Studies have shown increased pregnancy rates among women who received acupuncture before and after embryo transfer compared to those who did not.
  • Research indicates that acupuncture can improve ovarian response to stimulation, leading to better-quality eggs and embryos.
  • Some studies highlight the reduction in miscarriage rates and improved live birth rates among acupuncture patients.

While these findings are encouraging, it’s essential to acknowledge the limitations. Not all studies show significant differences, and individual responses to acupuncture can vary.

However, the overarching trend suggests that acupuncture can be a beneficial complement to IVF treatments.

Conclusion

The relationship between acupuncture and IVF is a testament to the power of integrating ancient wisdom with modern science. This holistic approach offers a beacon of hope and a pathway to enhanced fertility for many individuals and couples. By understanding the history and benefits of this combined method, you can make informed decisions about your fertility journey.

If you’re considering IVF, explore the potential benefits of incorporating acupuncture into your treatment plan with professional guidance. Consult with your fertility specialist and an experienced acupuncturist to tailor a program that supports your unique needs.

Embark on a journey that balances the best of both worlds and opens new horizons in your pursuit of parenthood. For more insights and personalized advice, reach out to our team and discover how acupuncture and IVF can work together for you.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation or learn more about our services.

Lokahi Acupuncture
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Preparing for IVF Egg Retrieval

5 Essential Tips for Preparing for IVF Egg Retrieval

by Susannah Lee, LAc

Embarking on the journey of preparing for an IVF egg retrieval calls for a compassionate and empowering approach, one that embraces your well-being at every step.

As you prepare for this significant phase, here are five essential tips to guide you through the process with resilience, care, and hope.

5 Ways to Prepare for IVF Egg Retrieval

1. Embracing Loving Kindness: Understanding the Power of Hormones

The journey of hormone therapy leading up to an IVF egg retrieval can be a powerful and impactful experience. It’s essential to cultivate loving kindness toward yourself and recognize the profound influence of hormones on emotions.

By gaining awareness of this influence, you can navigate your stimulation cycle with a greater sense of understanding and self-compassion, fostering emotional well-being as you prepare for this transformative stage.

2. Acknowledging the Surgical Nature: Planning for Post-Retrieval Care

An egg retrieval is a surgical procedure that warrants thoughtful planning and consideration. It’s crucial to designate a supportive individual who will accompany you to and from the procedure, allowing for rest and recovery following surgery.

Additionally, preparing comforting and nourishing foods in advance, as well as potentially taking time off from work, can provide the post-surgery support needed to promote healing and rejuvenation.

3. Empowering Through Preparation: Engaging with Your Injection Schedule

Reviewing your injection and medication schedule is a pivotal step in your preparation for the IVF egg retrieval. It’s important not to hesitate in asking questions and seeking clarity from your healthcare team.

Familiarizing yourself with the schedule, the process, and the medications can instill a sense of empowerment, offering you a comprehensive understanding of the journey ahead.

Furthermore, determining who will be administering the injections—whether it’s you, your partner, or a hired healthcare provider — aligns with proactive preparation and support.

4. Nurturing Resilience: Cultivating Support During the Waiting Period

Following the surgery, there will be a period of waiting to receive results, calling for thoughtful consideration of self-support during this time. Planning in advance for ways to nurture and uplift yourself is essential.

Whether it involves daily visualizations, seeking solace in a special place, or arranging quality time with loved ones, these intentional actions can provide the emotional sustenance needed as you await the next steps in your journey.

5. Embracing Holistic Support: Harnessing the Benefits of Acupuncture

Receiving acupuncture leading up to the surgery holds the potential to offer holistic support for both your physical and emotional well-being. This practice can contribute to nurturing egg quality, balancing stress, and preparing your body for the upcoming procedure.

Furthermore, it has the potential to support recovery, aligning with your comprehensive preparation for the IVF egg retrieval.

As you embrace these essential tips, remember that you are not alone in this journey.

Your proactive approach, along with the care and support you invest in yourself, paves the way for a journey fueled by hope, resilience, and the unwavering strength within you. By aligning with these practices and embracing the support available to you, you are nurturing the foundation for a transformative and empowering IVF egg retrieval experience.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation or learn more about our services.

Lokahi Acupuncture
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Acupuncture for Fertility: What You Should Know

Acupuncture for Fertility: What You Should Know

Facing infertility and fertility struggles can be a daunting and prolonged journey.

Fortunately, there are various treatment options available to couples seeking to conceive. Acupuncture, both as a standalone therapy, and in conjunction with Western medicine, is one approach to enhance the effectiveness of fertility treatments.

In this blog post, we will explore the role of acupuncture in addressing fertility challenges, its mechanisms, and essential considerations before embarking on this treatment path.

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that involves the use of needles to stimulate specific points on the body.

The practice has been around for thousands of years and is known for its ability to promote physical and emotional wellbeing. Acupuncture for fertility involves the insertion of needles into specific points of the body, with the aim of improving reproductive function.

Studies have found that acupuncture can increase the success rate of fertility treatments such as IVF, IUI, and hormone therapy. Acupuncture also helps alleviate side effects associated with these treatments, including pain, nausea, and fatigue. Furthermore, acupuncture is non-invasive, painless, and low-cost, thus making it an attractive complement to modern fertility procedures.

It is important to note that fertility is a journey, and we highly recommend that both partners undergo acupuncture treatment.

This helps reduce stress and anxiety, enhances the overall experience, and increases the chances of a successful outcome. We believe that acupuncture can be a helpful adjunct to modern fertility treatments, and we’re dedicated to helping our patients achieve their dream of starting a family.

Acupuncture for fertility is a safe, painless, and low-cost complement to modern fertility treatments.

It works by stimulating specific points on the body to improve reproductive function and increase the success rate of fertility treatments.

At Lokahi Acupuncture, we take a comprehensive approach to fertility treatment, examining every aspect of our patients’ lives to develop an actionable treatment plan. We believe that a holistic approach to fertility treatment improves the overall experience and the chances of a successful outcome.

Research:

  • “The status and future of acupuncture mechanism research” – This study explores the mechanisms of acupuncture and its potential benefits in enhancing the success of IVF treatments. Source
  • “The role of acupuncture in the management of subfertility” – This research reviews studies on the effects of acupuncture on IVF outcomes and discusses its potential role in improving fertility. Source
  • “Acupuncture and in vitro fertilization research: Current and future directions” – This article examines the current use of acupuncture alongside IVF cycles and highlights its long-standing history in supporting fertility. Source
  • “Use of acupuncture in female infertility and a summary of recent acupuncture studies related to embryo transfer” – This study summarizes recent research on the effects of acupuncture before and after embryo transfer and its impact on pregnancy rates. Source
  • “Development of a fertility acupuncture protocol: defining an acupuncture treatment protocol to support and treat women experiencing conception delays” – This research focuses on developing a consensus among acupuncture fertility specialists to establish an effective treatment protocol for women experiencing conception delays. Source

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any further inquiries or concerns or schedule a free consultation here.

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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Top IVF Questions -- Ask the Reproductive Endocrinologist

Ask the Reproductive Endocrinologist: Top IVF Questions

IVF can be a confusing process to navigate, and our patients often think of questions to ask their IVF doctors after their visit.

We asked reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Gaya Murugappan of Spring Fertility Silicon Valley to answer some of our most frequently asked questions about IVF.

Q: Why are birth control pills part of my IVF medications?

For some patients, your doctor may recommend birth control pills as part of preparation for an IVF cycle to synchronize the growth of your follicles.

Q: I’m not ready to have kids now – is egg freezing really a viable option?

If you are not ready for pregnancy, egg freezing is a treatment that may increase your chance of pregnancy at a later time. The success of egg freezing, or your chance of having a baby using frozen eggs, varies based on each patient’s age and clinical history.

Q What about airline travel around transfers?. How long should I wait after transfer until I can travel and how far is it ok to travel?

There is no evidence that air travel impacts success rates after an embryo transfer.

If you choose to travel, we recommend staying well hydrated and stretching your legs intermittently. We also recommend familiarizing yourself with options for medical care at your destination should you require an evaluation in early pregnancy.

Q: How many blastocysts is good to have if I plan on having two children?

Each euploid or chromosomally normal blastocyst has a 65% chance of resulting in a baby after transfer. We recommend 2 euploid blastocysts per desired child.

Q: Why does my doctor not remove my cysts before the embryo transfer?

Ovarian cysts are very common and the majority resolve without any intervention. If you have a cyst, this will be evaluated on an individual basis by your physician to determine the impact, if any, on your fertility treatment.

Q: Is 35 really too old to try and conceive naturally?

Approximately 50% of women who are 35 years old will conceive naturally after trying for 6 months.

Q: Would my RE change my medication protocol every time I do an egg retrieval?

After every treatment cycle, your doctor will evaluate and make modifications if necessary.

Q: Is OHSS really a concern?

The risk of OHSS, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, depends on your age, number of follicles, number of eggs retrieved, and whether or not you will be undergoing a frozen embryo transfer. Your physician will tailor your medication doses and IVF protocol to minimize your risk of OHSS.

At Lokahi Acupuncture, we have more than 20 years of experience working with local IVF clinics and reproductive endocrinologists. If you have additional questions you’d like answered, please let us know and we would be happy to reach out to local RE’s.

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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Nutrition for IVF | Acupuncture and IVF San Jose

Nutrition for IVF

3 Nutrition Goals when Pursuing IVF

Prior to and during an IVF cycle, there are 3 major goals when it comes to nutrition.

  • Replenish with key nutrients
  • Support stable blood sugar
  • Reduce inflammation

Attention to nutrition offers best possible IVF outcomes due to the impact on egg quality, sperm health, uterine lining, hormone signaling and more. The benefits impact you beyond IVF. You also maintain mom’s future health throughout pregnancy and postpartum, and lay the foundation for a healthy baby.

It’s a great idea to be conscientious about your nutrition at least 3 months before starting fertility medications. Then throughout the IVF cycle, each of the 3 nutrition goals must be addressed: replenish key nutrients; support stable blood sugar; and reduce inflammation.

Replenish with key nutrients

In the weeks leading up to egg retrieval, replenishing key nutrients tops the list of the 3 nutrition goals. While a good-quality prenatal supplement is a good idea, also focus on nutrients from fresh food.

Amp up your diet by including:

  1. A wide diversity of vegetables helps to ensure you’re getting a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to prepare your body for the nutrient-intensive journey to come. Make it a goal to incorporate dark leafy greens and seasonal produce every day.
  2. Omega-3 fats from cold-water fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring), oysters, flaxseeds, chia seeds and pastured eggs.

Some key nutrients come from animal sources, so if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, we suggest seeking the support of a nutritionist.

Reduce inflammation

Leading up to and through transfer is the time to place extra attention on reducing inflammation in the body. Excess, chronic inflammation leads to high output of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol disrupts hormone balance, egg maturation, as well as implantation.

In addition to actively incorporating a diversity of seasonal vegetables and sources of omega-3 fats:

  1. Avoid processed and fried food as much as possible. Packaged food is an unfortunate source of chemical additives and industrial vegetable oils, and fried food also delivers a dose oftrans fats. Cooking at home or selective sourcing of meals is the best way to avoid these inflammatory ingredients.
  2. Reduce refined sugar. Excess sugar is known to be inflammatory for anyone, and not only problematic for those with metabolic conditions like PCOS or diabetes. Instead, experiment with including a portion of sweet whole foods into your meals. For example, sweet potato, beets, carrots, butternut squash and seasonal fruit.
  3. Reduce gluten and dairy. They’re known to be inflammatory for many, and while you may not need to remove them entirely, you can benefit from minimizing them on your plate. For example, instead of a sandwich, toss the same fixings on a bed of quinoa and leafy greens. If you had cheese on the sandwich, add vitamin and mineral-rich avocado instead.

Support stable blood sugar

Blood sugar that stays relatively stable throughout the day is optimal for health, especially during an IVF cycle. Otherwise, extreme dips and spikes in blood sugar negatively affect IVF outcomes, in part due the impact on hormone balance and inflammation which have implications on egg quality and implantation.

A couple key principals do wonders to help keep blood sugar relatively stable: 

  1. Eat regular meals. An IVF cycle is not the time to skip meals. Rather, have breakfast within 90 minutes of waking up or soon after morning physical activity. Eat a satiating meal midday and again in the evening at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. If there’s longer than 6 hours between meals, be sure to have a snack as well.
  2. Fill your plate with PFF, that’s protein, healthy fats and fiber. These combine to slow the impact of higher-glycemic foods on your blood sugar. Protein can come from animal or plant sources. Healthy fats include avocado, olives, coconut, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds and organic dairy. For fiber, think about adding a plant, especially a vegetable to your plate. Each time you eat, do a check for PFF.

Bonnie Burgess - Burgess WellnessIf you are interested in nutrition support for IVF, but have more questions, we encourage you to reach out for a free consultation with Bonnie at Burgess Wellness. Bonnie is a holistic functional nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, and a trusted partner of Lokahi Acupuncture.

Bio:

Bonnie is a holistic functional nutritionist who specializes in women’s health and fertility including patients undergoing ART. She uses a “food first” approach to determine individual nutritional needs coupled with lifestyle modifications and possible nutrient supplementation. Bonnie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she serves an international client base through a 100% virtual consultancy at Burgess Wellness.

 

 

Acupuncture for IVF - Your Top Questions Answered

Acupuncture for IVF – Your Top Questions Answered

Acupuncture has been used for decades to support IVF treatments.

Here are our most commonly asked questions:

1. Do I really need acupuncture if I am doing IVF?

The reason many Reproductive Endocrinologists recommend acupuncture for IVF is they want their patients to succeed in becoming pregnant. Acupuncture is an adjunct therapy that optimizes the chances of achieving pregnancy. Acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus and reproductive organs, reduces stress, and minimizes the side effects of medication.

2. How many acupuncture treatments will it take to work?

We typically recommend 12 treatments before the IVF procedure, with a minimum of two treatments per week for the 4 weeks leading up to the retrieval itself. The purpose of acupuncture for IVF is to optimize the quality and quantity of eggs for retrieval, and to prepare the body for transfer.

3. Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture should not be painful at all. Acupuncturists are trained to insert sterilized, hair-thin needles into the skin in a way that can be hardly perceived. Sometimes it may feel like a mosquito is biting. Receiving an acupuncture treatment for IVF is typically a very relaxing experience, one that induces many patients to fall asleep, or experience a deep sense of rest and relaxation.

4. Can I have acupuncture without the needles?

Acupuncture, by definition, involves the insertion of hair-thin needles. A professional will insert the needles without pain, ensuring the patient has a relaxing experience.

5. Where will you put the needles?

One of the amazing things about acupuncture is that there are many, many options for where to place needles. Typically to support the stimulation part of IVF, we insert needles in the abdomen, over the uterus and ovaries. Additional needles are placed on the body to support as needed.

6. Can acupuncture hurt my chances of conceiving?

Acupuncture for IVF is an extremely low risk treatment. An acupuncturist specializing in fertility is trained specifically on optimizing, rather than negatively affecting, the chances of pregnancy.

Quality fertility specialists not only works in tandem with local IVF doctors, but they’re also familiar with the IVF protocols and medications, what they do and how they make patients feel. They understand the nuances and intricacies of IVF, and work with patients to support them through the process.

If you are interested in acupuncture for IVF, but have more questions, we encourage you to reach out and schedule a complimentary online consultation.

As fertility specialists, we believe that if you are going to spend the time, energy and money to come and work with us, you deserve to have every opportunity to succeed in becoming pregnant.

We invite you to make an appointment or speak to one of our fertility specialists.

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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5 ways Acupuncture can help you with IVF

5 Ways Acupuncture Can Help You With IVF

For some people wanting to have a baby, IVF may be the only option.

Reproductive Endocrinologists know that acupuncture improves IVF outcomes. Here’s why they refer patients to acupuncturists, like Lokahi Acupuncture, who specialize in fertility medicine:

1.   Acupuncture increases blood flow to the ovaries

Correct placement of the acupuncture needles has been shown to increase blood flow to internal organs. With increased blood flow to the ovaries, nutrients are delivered and blood flow is optimized.

Since IVF medications are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible, acupuncture helps make sure that the ovaries are able to do what the medication is asking of them.

2.   Acupuncture supports egg development

By improving ovarian function, acupuncture supports the body to produce the best possible eggs. IVF stimulation requires the body to produce as many eggs as it can.

While nothing can increase the number of eggs you were born with, acupuncture can help make sure that what you do have is the best quality it can be. The IVF medications bring the eggs to the surface and get them growing; the acupuncture shunts blood and energy to the growing eggs, supporting the quality.

3.   Acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus

By increasing blood flow to the uterus, acupuncture treatment during the transfer phase of an IVF cycle ensures the endometrial lining is as hospitable as possible for the implantation of the embryo. Blood flow brings with it nutrients as well as plumping the uterine lining to be thick enough to support implantation.

Typically, acupuncture treatment specifically working on this would happen in conjunction with IVF stimulation medications prior to retrieval and then continue until just before transfer.

4.   Acupuncture helps minimize the side effects of IVF medication

IVF medication can have uncomfortable side effects such as anxiety, bloating, night sweats, breast tenderness, headaches and mood changes. Acupuncture helps mediate and minimize side effects, making for a more pleasant experience. As one of our local Reproductive Endocrinologists put it, “patients just do better with acupuncture”.

5.   Acupuncture reduces stress

With the combination of hormonal treatment and the busy IVF schedule, this can be a very stressful time. Acupuncture promotes relaxation in the body, calms the nervous system and allows you to experience the journey in a better headspace.

As fertility specialists, we believe that if you are going to spend the time, energy and money to come and work with us, you deserve to have every opportunity to succeed in becoming pregnant. We invite you to make an appointment or speak to one of our fertility specialists.

For further information and sources, consider reading research papers by Lee Hollender Rubin, Aaron B. Caughey, Michael S. Opsahl and Klaus Weimer Impact of Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine on In Vitro Fertilization Outcomes

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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