At Portland Acupuncture Studio, we are frequently asked “How often do I need to have acupuncture to help my fertility?”
Since our treatments are tailored to each person’s unique needs, there is no standard answer to this question. However, there are some key factors influencing how many acupuncture sessions you need to improve your fertility, and increase your chances of having a baby sooner. Whether you are trying to conceive naturally or through IVF, the information below can help you plan ahead to get the most benefit from your fertility acupuncture treatments.
Your Eggs Start Developing 3 Months Before Ovulation
It’s amazing but true: Eggs are chosen 3 months ahead of when you will actually ovulate, and will take that long to fully mature. That means that the egg you ovulate this cycle started developing 3 months ago.
To get the most benefit from any therapy to help your egg quality, you should start treatment at least 3 months before you hope to get pregnant. This goes for both natural conception and IVF cycles.
You’ll get the best results if you get support well in advance, so that even the body’s ability to choose the best egg is improved. Acupuncture treatments done weekly during this 3-month window can help improve the egg development process, balance hormones and improve egg quality. With enough advanced timing of your acupuncture sessions, your fertility can improve.
Acupuncture Sessions on the Day of IVF Embryo Transfer Improves Pregnancy Rates
Since 2002, a variety of research has shown that having acupuncture treatment immediately before and after IVF embryo transfer increases pregnancy rates.1 These treatments should be done at your fertility clinic for 25 minutes directly before and after the embryo transfer. The pregnancy rates of acupuncture patients have been shown to be almost double that of the non-acupuncture patients when doing IVF. So, find a fertility clinic that works with acupuncturists and schedule acupuncture at the time of your embryo transfer.
Beware: Research has shown that getting day-of-embryo transfer acupuncture treatment off-site will reduce pregnancy rates!2 In other words, if you travel back-and-forth to your acupuncturist’s office before and after your embryo transfer, this is bad for your fertility. As you might guess, this scenario seems to put too much stress on the body, and disrupts implantation timing rather than helping it. So, if you can get your day-of-embryo transfer acupuncture at your fertility clinic, do. Otherwise, have acupuncture done the day before, and rest on your transfer day.
Research Shows Having 9-12 Acupuncture Sessions Prior to IVF Significantly Improves Live Birth Rates
Research done by Portland Acupuncture Studio founder Dr. Lee Hullender Rubin, DOAM, LAc, FABORM, found that there was a significant increase in live birth rates in patients who had 9-12 acupuncture sessions prior to IVF, along with treatment on the day of embryo transfer.3 Dr. Hullender Rubin’s research compared longer-term acupuncture patients to patients who had no acupuncture at all, and to those who had only day-of-embryo-transfer acupuncture. This study showed that just like medications, the dose of acupuncture is crucial. Getting acupuncture once is helpful. Getting it multiple times leading up to your IVF and on the day of embryo transfer gives you the best results. This confirms what we suggested in #1 above: Having acupuncture weekly for 3 months helps your fertility significantly. Have fertility acupuncture early and often for best results!
Seeing Providers More Often in Pregnancy Reduces Your Chances of Miscarrying
Once you are pregnant, you absolutely want your baby to be healthy. Since miscarriage is known to occur in up to 25% of all pregnancies, anything that can help reduce your risk is a huge blessing. There is evidence that when pregnant women see their health care providers more often, they miscarry less frequently. Perhaps that doesn’t surprise you. Pregnant women, especially those who have struggled to conceive or stay pregnant, simply need more support, more reassurance, and more care. We need that in so many ways!
At Portland Acupuncture Studio, we recommend having acupuncture weekly during the first trimester to help support pregnancy health, and reduce miscarriage risk. Regular acupuncture treatments throughout pregnancy continue to balance hormones and gently improve blood flow to the uterus to help support your baby’s healthy growth. Treatments during the first trimester can also reduce nausea and vomiting, decrease anxiety, and help promote restful sleep. Acupuncture is not only safe in pregnancy4, it can help keep you and your baby healthier.
There are many other factors that affect our recommendations for how many acupuncture sessions you need to improve your fertility. A great guideline is to have treatments once weekly for 12 weeks, then re-evaluate. Acupuncture works over time, so having a focused series of treatments has the best results as you try to get pregnant.
At Portland Acupuncture Studio, we customize our fertility acupuncture treatments to your unique needs. If you have questions about what course of treatment would benefit your fertility most, contact us for a free consultation.