Acupuncture and IVF: how often is enough?

By Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac

min read

Acupuncture is fast becoming an important part of many women’s IUI and IVF cycles. More and more women working with Reproductive Endocrinologists are seeking out acupuncture as a supportive therapy during their programs.  A number of fertility clinics now recommend it as a safe therapy to help prepare the body alongside conventional fertility treatments. It is often lauded as a natural way to help relieve stress during this time.

How often should I get acupuncture during my IVF cycle? 

Acupuncture 3 months before starting IVF

In order to optimize a successful cycle, it is generally recommended to start proper nutrition, supplements, stress reduction and acupuncture treatments at least 3 months prior to the start of fertility treatments.  Think of this as the ideal time to build up the body’s natural reserves

For some women, based on fertility history, maternal age and other serious health factors, a longer time frame of 4-6 months preparation time might be needed. 

Your practitioner will want to see you on a fairly regular basis and will customize a treatment plan based on what is needed at each step. In general we see patients on a weekly basis, often alternating acupuncture with abdominal therapy treatments.  Self care recommendations such as castor pack therapy or pelvic steaming are customized for each person. 

During the IVF process we usually like to see patients 1-2 times per week, especially during the stimulation stage and right before and after retrieval and transfer.  Again, this can vary based on each individual’s situation.

Acupuncture 1 to 2 months before IVF

If you have less time to work with it can still be very beneficial to get acupuncture during this time. We recommend having more frequent acupuncture treatments in the 4-8 weeks prior to retrieval and transfer. Depending on your TCM diagnosis, fertility profile and ultrasound results, acupuncture could be scheduled for 1-3 times per week.  

Acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer

Perhaps you are reading this with only a few days left before your retrieval and/or transfer date (for FET).  If you can ONLY fit acupuncture into this schedule, it can still be helpful.  There is a lot of research showing “day of transfer” acupuncture can help with relaxation, blood flow and stress reduction.  

We offer pre and post transfer acupuncture on location at our clinic.  The closest appointment time you can comfortably book in for is best (within 24 hours of the procedure at your fertility clinic). At the time of writing most fertility clinics are not permitting acupuncturists on-site due to Covid-19 safety protocols.  When these restrictions are lifted, we’ll return to providing on-site treatments right at the fertility clinic.

Acupuncture in the 2 week wait (and beyond)

1-2 acupuncture treatments are recommended during the 2-week period after your embryo transfer, as you wait for pregnancy testing. Here, the focus is on supporting your body during what are potentially the early stages of implantation and pregnancy – and keeping you relaxed as you wait.

Acupuncture during pregnancy

In early pregnancy and onward, acupuncture can be a great natural health tool.  It can help with morning sickness, headaches and many other issues for which you may not be able to take medications.  Acupuncture is specifically very gentle during this time, and treatments are usually shorter.  We suggest weekly treatments for the first trimester (12 weeks) if possible.  As pregnancy progresses your acupuncturist will provide options for alternate positions (side lying or propped up with pillows) so that you will be comfortable.   

For more information read our article 5 Questions About Acupuncture in Pregnancy.


Next Steps

Have questions about Fertility Acupuncture and how it might fit in your plan?  Please contact me for a free consultation call to discuss your situation and get more specific details. 

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acupuncture, IUI, IVF, trying to conceive, unexplained infertility, unknown infertility

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