Chinese medicine has a long history of use in fertility support and pregnancy. By nourishing both eggs and sperm, promoting a healthy uterine lining, and reducing stress, Chinese medicine is a natural way to nourish and optimise your fertility. Whether you’re doing IVF, IUI or egg freezing, supporting your mind and body throughout is important to help you stay calm and balanced.
Improving the quality of eggs and sperm
Promoting the development of best quality eggs and sperm is an important first step in the IVF journey. Eggs and sperm are subjected to a number of rigorous processes during fertility treatments; stronger and healthier cells are more likely to survive and maintain their vitality, increasing the chances of fertilization and implantation. Lifestyle changes, nutrient support and stress management can all improve the quality of your eggs.
Chinese medicine can also be used to promote optimal sperm health, as well as improve sperm quality in the case of male factor infertility. Treatments aim to reduce inflammation, enhance immunity and invigorate circulation to the testes and epididymis, in turn increasing sperm motility and percentage of normal sperm.
Supporting a thick and smooth endometrium
To nourish the seed, you must first nourish the soil. A thick and healthy uterine lining (endometrium) is important for the implantation and nutrition of the embryo. Acupuncture treatments are tailored to each stage of the cycle to support and prepare the uterus for implantation. Treatments after embryo transfer aim to promote the receptiveness of the uterine lining.
Reduce stress during fertility treatments
Most people undergoing fertility treatment experience an increase in stress and anxiety. Chronic stress may cause changes in hormones, interfering with the development and release of eggs and making them less likely to implant. Regular acupuncture treatments can assist in the management of stress, helping patients to feel rested and grounded and better able to cope with the rigours of fertility treatment. For women undergoing IVF treatment, this study found an association between lower rates of stress and anxiety, and higher rates of pregnancy.
When should I start, and how often will I need acupuncture treatments?
Chinese medicine is a holistic therapy and the approach will be individually tailored to you and your circumstances. Some patients choose to have treatments only on the day of embryo transfer, while others have more regular sessions during their fertility journey.
An appointment with me prior to starting your treatment cycle can help you decide if acupuncture, (and the acupuncturist!) are right for you. This is not always possible however, and my treatment plan is always designed to support you wherever you are in your cycle.
Research has typically focussed on acupuncture treatments on the day of embryo transfer, however, emerging evidence suggests that ongoing, regular treatment may be a better approach, particularly for older women. One review of over 1000 IVF patients found that individualized acupuncture combined with diet, lifestyle, nutritional supplements, and Chinese herbs, if appropriate, applied during an IVF cycle produced a significant increase in babies born for women aged 38-42, compared with IVF treatment alone.
Fertility treatment can be a rollercoaster of stress and hope, isolation and elation. By promoting healthy eggs and sperm, encouraging a lush uterine lining and reducing stress and anxiety, Chinese medicine can gently support your fertility, mind and body.