Acupuncture Benefits for IVF
From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…
The most common question that patients first ask me in regards to acupuncture and IVF is:
"When should I start treatment?"
In Chinese medicine, everyone is seen as a unique individual and every treatment session is customized to fit the individual's health history so that there is no one-size fits all treatment. Additionally, treatment protocols for fertility are customized according to each phase of the menstrual cycle. However, in regards to when to start acupuncture prior to an IVF cycle, my answer is the same for every person which is:
Various research studies have been conducted looking at the effectiveness for acupuncture during IVF protocols as well as other assisted reproductive technologies for the past 15 years. However, a study published in 2015 compared the live birth rates (as well as other significant statistics) for three IVF groups: One group receiving IVF without any integrative therapies including acupuncture, one group receiving two standard acupuncture treatments the day of an IVF embryo transfer (a standard protocol established in previous research), as well as a third group receiving WS-TCM or Whole-Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Whole-Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine includes a complex combination of therapies including acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional counseling as well as other appropriate therapies. Again, these recommendations were made to patients based on their individualized case. As you may guess, the rates of live birth were higher in the group receiving WS-TCM. You can read the details of the study here:
Patients in the WS-TCM group had an average of 12 acupuncture treatments during their IVF cycle. The idea of 12 weeks or 12 sessions is an interesting idea to explore as well given that many acupuncturists will recommend that patients come in up to three months prior to receiving fertility treatments or earlier if they have a known co-factor such as endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, thyroid disorders, or anemia. Dr. Weil's 8 Weeks to Optimum Health published in 1997 also explores this idea that it takes approximately two months to create a physiological shift in the body.
What's the take home message from this study? If you are considering conceiving or beginning an IVF cycle, schedule an acupuncture session sooner than later. There may be benefits from starting a course of acupuncture 3 months in advance. Find a practitioner that practices WS-TCM-in order words, they will use acupuncture as a primary treatment method but they also incorporate other modalities such as Chinese herbs, nutritional counseling, and lifestyle modifications to optimize your well-being. Next week, I'll review some of the general benefits of acupuncture for IVF cycles found in the research over the past 15 years.
Interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility? Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery and discovered the many benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis and a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Jessica is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). She is also a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics, a specialty certification held by fewer than 500 acupuncturists in the United States.
Jessica currently maintains a private acupuncture practice in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, which was awarded Best Acupuncture Center by Boston Magazine. Areas of specialty include women's health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. If you are interested in learning about the benefits of acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please visit the acupuncture + fertility page. New patients can book online to schedule any acupuncture service including a complimentary consult. Jessica also serves as a health care consultant for a number of integrative medical institutes. Her clients include IVF and infertility centers, functional medicine offices, orthopedic facilities, concierge practices, and green spas. Please contact OMBE for more information about these services.
Prior to her consulting work, Jessica founded an integrative health center in Boston. The eco-friendly center was one of the first twenty-five companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston. During its ten-year tenure, the center provided services including acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates, and yoga. Studio offerings included mom and baby programming, Mongan Method Hypnobirthing, natural childbirth education and the Holistic Moms Network. The center was the recipient of several awards, including Mayor Menino's Green Business Award, a multiple recipient of Boston Business Journal's Best Workplace, Boston Magazine's Best of Boston Award for Massage Therapy as well as Best Eco-Friendly Massage, Eco-Beauty Bar, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Pilates, and Workout.