California IVF: Davis Fertility Center, Inc. encourages interested patients to pursue complementary medical treatments like acupuncture to decrease the stress of fertility treatment, improve relaxation and possibly improve ovulation and the chances of pregnancy.
By providing, expanded on-site access to acupuncture services from the Acupuncture Fertility Specialists, based in Sacramento and Roseville, during embryo transfer days, we hope that your chances for pregnancy will increase. Many patients report lower stress-levels and believe combining assisted reproductive therapies with acupuncture helped get them pregnant.
The following information is from Dr. David Cherry and addresses some of the basic questions patients have about combining acupuncture and fertility treatment and includes information about the acupuncture day of embryo transfer protocol.
About Acupuncture and Assisted Reproductive Therapy
(Courtesy of Dr. David Cherry, O.M.D., L.Ac.)
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient medical art formulated thousands of years ago by Chinese medical practitioners. It is based in the idea that every living body has within it an electrical, or energetic, force called by the Chinese “Qi” (pronounced “chee”), which flow through the body in certain predetermined pathways, called “meridians”.
This Qi is the essential life force which determines the state of health in the body, and maintaining its flow is essential to good health. In disease, the flow of the Qi becomes blocked or disturbed in some way. The acupuncturist uses acupuncture to return the flow of Qi to its normal state, allowing the patient’s body to heal itself in a natural and harmonious way.
What do the needles do?
The needles enter acupuncture points along the meridians. At these points, the acupuncturist can access the Qi and manipulate it in the way that is most beneficial to the patient. Through various techniques, the Qi may be supplemented, withdrawn, or moved in one direction or another, as appropriate.
Proper identification of the imbalance in the flow of Qi, followed by proper treatment with acupuncture and its related modalities, can lead to a state of greater health and, in turn, greater fertility.
Can acupuncture be used with assisted reproductive therapy?
Yes. Acupuncture can be used quite successfully with assisted reproductive therapy (ART), including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI).Research and clinical trials over the last five years have demonstrated that acupuncture can be of significant benefit to patients undergoing IVF.
In one study, the IVF success rate jumped from 25% to 42% using acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer. There are also acupuncture protocols for many disorders seen during ART including thin endometrial lining, luteal phase defect and others. For women with unexplained fertility, acupuncture can help with ovulation and to attain an unassisted pregnancy.
In the cases where there is male factor infertility, acupuncture can be quite useful in improving sperm morphology. It takes some time (approximately 70 days) to make a sperm, so it is important for all patients to allow time for acupuncture to change the body’s function.Six to eight weeks prior to embryo transfer is best, if possible. The same is true for patients where female factors are involved or if there is unexplained fertility.
While western doctors may have found no explanation for women’s fertility issues, many times imbalances in the Qi are primary causes of infertility.
Day of Embryo Transfer Protocol
In one clinical trial of 80 patients undergoing embryo transfer, a unique acupuncture protocol was performed both immediately before and immediately after the embryo transfer on half of the patients, while the other half had no acupuncture treatment.
The results were quite impressive, with the non-acupuncture group having a 25.5% pregnancy rate, while the acupuncture group had a 42.3% pregnancy rate. This statistical improvement, along with the results of several other recent clinical trials, has gleaned much media attention, and has sparked much interest from reproductive endocrinologists. (For more information about these studies, see Fertility and Sterility, the Journal of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.)
We also perform similar protocols for women undergoing IUI and IVF in our clinics and on-site at California IVF: Davis Fertility Center, Inc. Acupuncture is performed both before and after embryo transfer and is a beautifully simple protocol, designed primarily to relax the patient, increase uterine blood flow, and encourage embryo implantation.
The patient is placed in a warm, semi-darkened room with soft music playing. A few acupuncture needles are gently placed in key points on the ears, abdomen, and lower legs and a deep sense of comfort and relaxation begins to envelope her. The patient leaves feeling relaxed and mildly euphoric as she goes to embryo transfer.
After her embryo transfer, the patient returns for another soothing session and then is released to go home and rest, knowing she has done everything possible to ensure a successful transfer. The embryo transfer protocol is performed on-site at California IVF for convenience.
About Doctor Cherry:
David Cherry is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine based in Roseville, California. Dr. Cherry is a 1985 graduate of California Acupuncture College in Santa Barbara, now the Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine. His practice is concentrated in both female and male infertility. He is a professional member in good standing of RESOLVE, the national infertility awareness group, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the California Society of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture. Dr. Cherry is a tutorial supervisor for the California Acupuncture Board, and has qualified three trainees to sit for the California Acupuncture Board licensing exams.
About Jennifer Horton:
Jennifer Horton graduated from the Academy for Chinese Culture and Health Sciences in Oakland, California with a Masters of Science degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2002. She has since been specializing in obstetrics, women’s health and infertility. Dedicated to acupuncture and the patients she serves, experience and education have taught Jennifer that all symptoms have a cause. By searching for and defining the underlying cause of ill health, illness is resolved at the source, eliminating the vicious cycle of treating only symptoms.Devoted to her profession and the patients she serves, Jennifer continues to blaze the trail of cutting-edge medicine, integrating acupuncture’s power with current scientific methodology.
Read our blog for additional details on acupuncture and fertility treatments for Sacramento area patients.