Acupuncture for IVF Support
There are a number of factors that play a crucial role as to whether an embryo will successfully implant or not. – Namely, a receptive uterine lining which provides a good environment for the embryo to latch onto. The endometrium is affected by hormones, the immune system, stress, diet and circulation. Acupuncture helps create the optimum environment conducive for implantation.
Good levels of oestrogen are needed to stimulate the growth of the uterine lining, while the correct levels of progesterone are important in maintaining it. In some IVF cycles, these hormones are far from ideal and acupuncture can be recommended to establish the desired hormonal balance.
Imbalances in the immune regulation of the womb or autoimmune conditions can affect the embryo’s efforts to implant. For instance, elevated levels of immune cells (natural killer/nk cells) in the uterus and activated T Lymphocytes can hinder implantation. Conversely, the functions of some of the NK cells and T cells are vital for creating a suitable habitat for successful implantation. Again it is about striking the right balance! Acupuncture is extremely effective in strengthening the immune system and reducing inflammation. A successful pregnancy depends on limited inflammation during implantation and immune tolerance (anti-inflammation) during pregnancy. Immune tolerance refers to the incredible ability that a healthy woman has to carry a semi-allogeneic (sharing some, but not all genes) foetus without her immune system rejecting it.
Acupuncture brings blood flow to the uterus, had been shown to improve the quality of the uterine lining and helps to regulate hormones which is critical for implantation and all phases of pregnancy. Acupuncture also reduces stress and the likelihood of uterine contractions after embryo transfer which helps to prevent the embryo being expelled by the uterus.
It is recommended to have acupuncture at least once a week for four weeks before egg retrieval (helps to improve egg quality and the response to IVF drugs), then pre and post embryo transfer (encourages successful implantation) and ideally to continue weekly acupuncture to maintain a healthy pregnancy particularly until the first trimester.