IVF & EMBRYO TRANSFER
Recommended Treatment of Acupuncture for Medically Assisted Fertility Treatment (ART)
ART with Chinese Medicine – “Cultivating the soil before planting the seeds” is an appropriate metaphor and common way of thinking about fertility in Chinese Medicine. The following recommendations are basic guidelines developed in part by Traditional Chinese Medicine theories as well as case studies and modern clinical research. As each individual varies in condition, treatment recommendations may vary as well.
IVF Embryo Transfer Day – This treatment is based strictly on clinical studies. It can calm the mind and relax the uterus, relieve discomfort while at the same time supporting implantation. This protocol consists of a 25 minute acupuncture treatment before the embryo transfer as well as a 25 minute acupuncture treatment immediately following the embryo transfer.
InVitro Fertilization (IVF) – Acupuncture is recommended four weeks prior to egg retrieval. These treatments are based on clinical studies to increase follicular development as well as the quality of the endometrial lining. It consists of eight acupuncture treatments within this four week period. After stimulation begins this treatment also minimizes discomfort and side effects that may occur during a medicated cycle.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – Acupuncture is recommended for once a week, beginning three months prior to and during assisted reproductive therapies. This treatment is designed to improve the quality and quantity of developing follicles as well as the overall quality of the endometrial lining. It also serves as a well rounded and personalized treatment for both physical and emotional based symptoms.
For women with elevated FSH levels, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome as well as Endometriosis it is also recommended to receive acupuncture three to four months prior to IUI and IVF for optimum benefits.
Donor Egg Recipients – Acupuncture is recommended for once a week, three to four months prior to receiving an embryo. This treatment is designed to prepare the uterus and the endometrial lining. On embryo transfer day, pre and post acupuncture is also highly recommended by physicians.
Male Factor Men – should be treated four to five months prior to an IVF cycle to increase both the quality and quantity of sperm considering that sperm productions take three months. Generally speaking, Males should be treated once to twice a week until the day of sperm donation.
What can you do to help yourself?
There are so many contradicting answers to that question, but keep it simple and you’ll sleep better, and we all know, quality sleep is the most valuable way to heal your body.
Eliminate caffeine, alcohol and recreational drugs such as marijuana.
Eat more fruits and vegetables and avoid pesticides when you can. Organic produce is the best way to go to avoid pesticide residues that conventionally grown fruit and vegetables carry.
Skip Soda and sugary or salty foods. A diet of consisting of whole and natural foods, eliminating sugar, and processed foods. Adults should limit sugar to six to twelve teaspoons a day. A single soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar and the phosphorus leaches calcium from the bones. Soda is bad for you, diet or otherwise. Limit salt to avoid high blood pressure and bloat weight gain.
Eat less meat, especially red and processed meats. They are believed to cause heart disease and cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating no more than 18 ounces of red meat weekly (that adds up to six hamburgers) and avoid processed meat like lunch meats and deli meats. Eating an organic diet including hormone free meat and dairy in low to moderate amounts is best for your overall health.
Eat healthy and sustainable seafood that’s low in mercury. We benefit greatly from the omega-3 fatty acids. It lowers blood pressure, cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart disease. Pregnant woman should steer clear of seafood and limit canned tuna to avoid mercury absorption.
Leave your nail polish behind. A new study conducted by Duke University and the Environmental Working Group found that chemicals in nail polish can enter the blood stream in noticeable amounts within as little as two hours of application and disrupt the endocrine system. The study examined the urine samples of 24 women for diphenyl phosphate or DPHP, which forms when the body metabolizes TPHP, a chemical toxin found in nearly every person on earth. Within 10-14 hours of nail polish application, serum levels of DPHP had increased by nearly sevenfold. The chemicals can contribute towards infertility, hormone-related cancers like breast and ovarian cancer, prostate conditions, thyroid disorders, neurological issues, diabetes, and even obesity. Nails aren’t permeable to most molecules, but TPHP could be absorbed into the cuticle or around the nail.
Take natural, high quality and potency vitamins. Organic and liquid vitamins absorb better than hard pills that won’t break down. Those can sometimes pass through the system without ever even changing shape!
Consider Meditation. It might feel like the practice of breathing is a difficult thing to practice but five minutes a day can make you feel like you’ve got a whole new way of focusing on your day. And of course, there’s an app for that! Find a guided meditation app that is soothing to listen to. Choose a voice that feels good to listen to. Some of them are incredibly effective and super helpful. There are numerous free and low cost apps available for your phone that can help you commit to this simple, soothing practice of breathing. The immeasurable relief that is experienced is more valuable than you might have ever considered.
Learn to use traditional fertility tools as well as new school devices to achieve a natural pregnancy. Try using ovulation tracking kits and learn to use the Basal Body Temperature (BBT) chart. Begin recording your temperature with a digital thermometer every morning upon awakening (before rising). A typical graph will show a slight drop in temperature just prior to ovulation followed by a rise between 0.3 and 1.0 degree Fahrenheit, a result of rising progesterone after ovulation. Progesterone (and temperature) should remain elevated approximately 14 days and then drop, signaling the on set of menses. If conception occurs your temperature should remain elevated and even jump to a third level on the graph.
Paying close attention to your body is probably the most valuable tool you have, literally at your fingertips. Note changes in vaginal mucous during the month. It should be wet and slippery like egg whites around ovulation. You might notice that alterations in the cervix-rising estrogen levels around ovulation cause the cervix to soften and move up and away from the vagina while the cervical opening enlarges. Note these changes on your BBT chart as changes occur. If your body is not showing a “normal” cycle curve, the right treatment in Traditional Chines Medicine can correct this.
Preventing miscarriage and Chinese Medicine go hand in hand. Acupuncture can help prevent chronic miscarriages in healthy women. Currently Traditional Chinese Medicine, both in China, several European countries and America, is used in conjunction with Western medical techniques and testing to design an effective course of treatment for the couple wishing to achieve pregnancy and deliver a healthy full term baby.
Sixty percent of all miscarriages occur in the first half of pregnancy. Genetics play a key role in habitual miscarriage. To presume that TCM alters genetic structure would be a stretch for the imagination. However, TCM is very effective in strengthening a person’s constitution. If a woman has miscarried, it is important to build and conserve her energy (Qi) and build her Blood.
You are not Alone. Approximately one in six to ten couples experience problems with fertility. Innumerable women grieve the loss of a potential child once a month, and lose a little more hope with each period. I believe that there is reason for optimism when modalities such as self care, acupuncture and meditation are applied.
Please be patient with yourself. It takes at least three cycles to normalize a woman’s cycle and influence folliculogenesis and likewise, it takes 70 days to generate new sperm in a man. If he has a history of drug or alcohol abuse or urological complications, it may take longer to generate his reproductive capacity. To learn more about how the appropriate treatment can help you at whatever stage you are in, call to discuss your case with Geina.