IVF & Pregnancy Acupuncture Protocols

There are a number of treatment options available to support you during your IVF, ICSI, IUI or FET cycle, to increase your chance of success and to improve how you feel. Options range from just one or two acupuncture treatments on the day of embryo transfer to a full course of complementary medicine treatments leading up to that day, and throughout pregnancy.

The following treatment plans are recommended for acupuncture support before, during, and after your IVF cycle;

  • Acupuncture support leading up to, during, and after an IVF cycle (including day of embryo transfer, on site at PCRM)
  • Acupuncture for Male Factor Infertility
  • Acupuncture to support the first trimester of pregnancy

Acupuncture before and during the medication phase of IVF

Clinical trials have shown that acupuncture treatment before and during IVF increases blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. In addition, acupuncture appears to regulate fertility hormones which may contribute to follicle development and increased implantation. See research page for further information. These trials reported increased pregnancy rates based on this protocol.

Treatment 1: Two treatments per week for six weeks before egg retrieval (optimal) plus
: Treatment at the time of embryo transfer


Acupuncture at any phase of the IVF / ICSI / IUI / FET

Acupuncture can be used to manage any side effects you might experience and reduce anxiety. These treatment protocols are based on the clinical experience of many acupuncturists and their patients. Reduced fatigue, moodiness, abdomen swelling and discomfort and other side effects are reported by many women using acupuncture during their IVF cycle. In addition women report greater relaxation and control of anxiety. The acupuncture treatment will be different for each patient and depends on your symptoms.
Treatment 2: One-two treatments per week as needed until ready to start treatment 1( above)


Acupuncture three days after egg collection (before embryo transfer)

We recommend that you have an acupuncture treatment three days after egg collection to help prepare a calm environment for the arrival of an embryo for day five transfers. This treatment can be combined with the programs above.
Treatment 3: One treatment 2-3 days after the egg collection before embryo transfer


Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer

When your doctor tells you that your follicles (eggs) are ready you will be given an injection of HCG, ‘the trigger’. It is at this point that the dates of your embryo transfer are known. Two calendar days after ‘the trigger’ you will go to the IVF clinic for your oocyte pick-up (OPU) or egg retrieval. Three to five days after the oocyte pick-up (OPU) will be your transfer dates (this depends on the labs opinion of how the embryos are progressing ‘in vitro’, they will keep you posted along the way). However, it is only the day before your actual embryo transfer date that you will be told the precise time your embryo transfer procedure will be.
Therefore, as far as the administration of acupuncture on embryo transfer day is concerned, there are 2 important times to call or email your acupuncturist;

1. when you know the date of your HCG ‘trigger’ &/or oocyte pick-up (OPU) so that they can schedule you for tentative day 3 or 5 transfer dates
2. when you get the phone call from the IVF clinic telling you the actual embryo transfer date and precise time the procedure will be.
On the day of embryo transfer, you will meet your acupuncturist 1.25 hrs before your scheduled procedure time (i.e. transfer time is 10am, acupuncture is at 8:45am). This is a 20-30 minute pre-procedure acupuncture treatment. Then, post-embryo transfer procedure, once the nurses have discharged you, a second 20 minute acupuncture treatment is administered. These treatments help calm the woman and optimize uterine receptivity.
Treatment 4: Two acupuncture treatments on the day of embryo transfer: One treatment before the transfer and another treatment after the transfer.


Acupuncture for frozen embryo transfer (FET) including donor eggs

Acupuncture treatment before and during IVF increases blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. And acupuncture appears to regulate fertility hormones which may help follicle development and inprove implantation.
Treatment 5: Two treatments per week for four weeks before embryo transfer, plus treatment on the day of transfer.


Acupuncture during the first trimester of pregnancy

Acupuncture in early pregnancy has immune-modulating effects which help establish implantation and prevent rejection of the embryo. It also increases micro-circulation (blood flow) to the uterus to help properly nourish the embryo which is of particular importance when a woman shows a tendency towards clotting factors or recurrent miscarriage.Clinical trials have shown that regular monitoring and reassurance reduces miscarriage rates. Acupuncture also reduces nausea and high stress levels that are so often associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Treatment 6: One treatment per week until week 13 of pregnancy.


Acupuncture during the third trimester of pregnancy (breech presentation & labour prep)

Acupuncture and moxibustion have demonstrated the ability to turn breech presentation. It is most effective when done between the weeks of 34-36. The Moxibustion technique will be taught at the first visit and must be preformed at home for 10-14 days consecutively (or until medical confirmation that baby has turned). Acupuncture treatment applied in the 4 weeks before the due date for delivery has been shown to reduce medical induction and emergency caesarian rates. It also has been shown to encourage cervical ripening and shorten labour time. If a woman does pass her due date, special acupuncture induction treatments have shown effect clinically.
Treatment 7: Breech presentation – One treatment per week during weeks 34-36, at which time an ‘at home’ moxibustion technique will be taught.
: Labour prep – One treatment per week during weeks 37-40. *Induction treatments are also offered if necessary.


Acupuncture for male factor infertility (sperm)

These treatments protocols are based on clinical trials which demonstrate an increase in sperm count and motility, and a decrease in abnormal forms after a course of acupuncture. The pressure to produce a sperm sample on the day of egg collection can be significant enough to cause a problem. Acupuncture reduces anxiety and can increase blood flow to the genital area.
Treatment 8: Two treatments per week in the one to six weeks (4-6weeks optimal) prior to IVF.
: One treatment the morning of sperm donation (egg retrieval).
Treatment of various conditions that cause infertility
PCOS, endometriosis, recurrent pregnancy loss, unexplained infertility, diminished ovarian reserve, premature ovarian failure, thyroid conditions, and stress, all play major roles in positive IVF or natural fertility outcomes. Whether it is losing weight, managing pain, regulating inflammation and immune response, increasing micro-circulation (blood flow), enriching reproductive essence, hormone balancing, or stress relief, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine can offer solutions.
Treatment 9: treatment protocols are determined on an individual basis depending on conditions presenting. A specialist experienced in fertility and its treatment with complimentary and alternative medicine will make a detailed diagnosis and will formulate an appropriate treatment plan.