Acupuncture has been used for various conditions in China for thousands of years. It involves inserting hair thin, sterile needles into specific points in the body; these points are referred to as acupuncture points. In traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), these points are located along channels or meridians. When these acupuncture points are compared to an anatomical atlas, they fall along small nerve bundles and blood vessels lying among fascial tissue. These nerve bundles can be sensory nerves, motor nerves or both. When acupuncture points are needled, one will feel a subjective feeling of warmth, pressure or a tingling sensation.
Acupuncture has recently gained popularity and has been clinically studied as an adjunctive therapy to infertility treatments. The acupuncture system Dr. Lee implements is based on an individualistic approach which incorporates two medical systems represented by traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and modern western medicine. She combines the principles of TCM and match that with the updated clinical research and anatomical data to get the greatest treatment effect.
Recent research has indicated that the benefits of acupuncture can vary depending on the duration of treatment: short term or long term. Short term treatment refers to receiving acupuncture only during an IVF cycle, whereas long term treatment involves patients undergoing acupuncture treatments even before their IVF cycle.
In short term treatment, the benefits of acupuncture include: improved blood circulation to the uterus and ovaries, lowered stress levels and relaxation, and amelioration of side effects from the IVF medications (For example: abdominal bloating and discomfort, fluid retention, headaches and mood swings).
In long term treatment, patients notice benefits overall when receiving acupuncture from pre IVF, during an IVF cycle and into pregnancy. When acupuncture is received with the right treatment frequency and duration, it can induce regular ovulation through modulating the sympathetic nervous system, endocrine system, and neuroendocrine system. These treatments can also be beneficial for pre-existing conditions (endometriosis, PCOS, adhesions, ovarian cysts, or fibroids) and work synergistically with biomedical prescriptions.
Whether short term or long term treatment, one of the most significant benefits of acupuncture is its influence on the central nervous system. For instance, acupuncture given before and after an embryo transfer has been shown to decrease urinary adrenaline and noradrenaline. We also see lower serum levels of cortisol when acupuncture is given during gonadotropin stimulation in an IVF cycle. Overall we see a decrease in the concentration of stress hormones in the body and a subjective feeling of greater relaxation and stress reduction.
These benefits translate into increased clinical pregnancy rates and live birth rates in women undergoing IVF.
Acupuncture can be done as an adjunctive treatment during the following phases:
- IVF cycle
- IUI cycle
- IVF with ICSI
- Oocyte Retrieval
- Cycle monitoring
- General health
- Preconception care
For more information, contact Dr. Lee at Don Valley Health and Wellness at 416-466-4468.