My Experience With Acupuncture for Infertility

ivf acupuncture infertility

My first introduction to acupuncture was at my dentist's office of all places. I found a holistic dentist I was really excited about visiting - finally it wasn't so much of a dreaded chore. She gave me a warm fuzzy blanket to keep me comfortable and asked if I wanted acupuncture. She quickly placed a needle  on web in between my thumb and pointer finger. She said it helps to relax and calm the nerves of patients.

She went on to ask if any of my health history had changed. I mentioned that we were going through fertility treatments (at that time I think I had done our third round of Clomid). She asked what I'd been doing and I said just hormones. She suggested I give acupuncture a try, and said that a local brother and sister team were "miracle workers." Miracles? I needed one! I picked up a business card for the acupuncture clinic and called the next day.

Before We Decided to Use IVF

When I first walked into the clinic I was a little nervous. I'm a pretty shy person, so meeting new people is always a little difficult for me. (I'm getting better). There was no one at the reception desk, so I looked around at the framed images on the walls, the fish swimming in the tank, and then sat to open up a cookbook. It was a book on food and Chinese medicine. Shortly after, the receptionist - also a sibling - greeted me.

Once the acupuncturist guided me back to the room, I unloaded the details of my health history and infertility. She gave me a list of foods to avoid ("cold") and to eat more of ("warm"). Then, treatment began. One thing she did during every session was put a heat lamp over my belly. Warmth is good apparently. I was told to always wear socks, a sweater at night during the colder months, and to put a heating pad over my lower belly for fifteen minutes a night. I was also given some herbs to take. They were for healing cysts and fibroids. I visited her a few times that week, then twice weekly after that.

At this point, I hadn't had a regular period of my own. Anything that did occur, was medically induced (Provera, Clomid - which didn't even help me to ovulate!). Yet, just two weeks after I began treatment, I had my very first cycle since stopping birth control over a year prior. I was ecstatic. I think this was the first little bit of hope I'd had since we started trying.

My husband was going once a week and also was taking herbs. After about six months, we decided to ask for another analysis. However, he showed no improvement really in motility or morphology. I was stressed again about our plan of action. This is when we decided to stop with acupuncture and move forward with IVF. I just wasn't willing to wait for it to work.

During IVF Treatment

When we first met up with our reproductive endocrinologist, he reviewed my medical history and asked what I had done differently to get my cycles going again. I mentioned acupuncture and he smiled, nodded, and said, "it really works." I was a bit relieved that I hadn't wasted all that time and money. His comment was almost validation that we had chosen the right path.

Our infertility clinic partners with a local acupuncturist who specializes in infertility. The treatment options were quite pricey though. So, we opted not to use acupuncture the first two cycles. After the second one failed, I read up a bit more on the effectivness of acupuncture and IVF. Our clinic's website says, "in one study, the IVF success rate jumped from 25% to 42% using acupuncture the day of embryo transfer." I thought those were pretty successful stats. So, we decided to dish out the extra $500 for acupuncture the day of transfer.

The acupuncturist came in and was very kind. He brought a very calming energy to the room. After transfer, I'm usually instructed to wait in the room laying down for fifteen minutes - always torture when you have a bladder full for the ultrasound! The acupuncturist asked about our infertility journey so far, and started treatment. He said to eat warm foods when I got home and not to forget about the pineapple core (which was also something I'd never paid much attention to before).

I still think that having acupuncture the day of transfer is what helped Atticus "stick." I'm sure there are a ton of things that contribute to a happy outcome, but I know that if/when we decided to do another frozen embryo transfer, I'll be sure to have acupuncture as well. If nothing else, it is very relaxing which is helpful for such a stressful/exciting day.

acupuncture ivf frozen embryo transfer fet
Acupuncture the day of our FET.

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