Teri Shanahan BSc(Hons)

Acupuncture For Fertility

Female Infertility

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can provide a natural treatment to many conditions affecting female fertility and help to boost female fertility.

We begin by looking at the menstrual cycle as many issues affecting fertility can be resolved by regulating the cycle, improving the blood flow, reducing menstrual pain and balancing the emotions. This can improve ovulation, egg quality and the endometrial lining. Strengthening the luteal phase and regulating hormone levels.

When part of a well-coordinated medical/complementary approach it works really well and thousands of couples who have had acupuncture for fertility are testament to  how fertility acupuncture contributed to the levels of success as well as giving support through what can be a very stressful time. 

Male infertility:

The one of most common problems encountered by couples today having difficulty to conceive is male infertility. This has led to an increase of the use of assisted conception methods such as ICSI. Methods such as ICSI can bypass many of the logistical issues of male infertility but do not address the root cause of the infertility.

TCM can help by working on the underlying cause of infertility. Improving sperm quantity, quality and increasing the success rate of assisted conception.

In research acupuncture has been shown to:

  •  Regulate the menstrual cycle
  •  Lower raised levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • Relieve symptoms of endometriosis
  • Induce ovulation in women with polycystic ovaries (PCOS)
  • Improve the quality and motility of sperm
  • Release endorphins that reduce stress and promote relaxation

Natural Conception

If you are trying to conceive naturally, we will review your approaches, including:

- Regulating your cycle

- Frequency and timing of intercourse

- Your fertile window

- Ovulation monitoring

MEDICAL TESTS

If you haven't had any infertility investigations, we will advise you on what medical tests you may need.

If you've already had some tests, we will review your results. 

Assisted Conception IVF / ICSI

At Acupuncture Cavan I offer treatments to prepare and support the body for assisted reproduction and if you've already had IVF or similar treatments, we will review how your treatment(s) went to see if there are any aspects that can be improved upon in the future. The areas we usually look into include:

- The number and the quality of eggs 

- If the uterine lining (the endometrium) developed as well as it should

- Any additional issues that need to be addressed, e.g. sperm issues

- Any luteal phase (the "two week wait") complications

If we find anything that was not optimally managed, we will recommend how to address these in the future

If you are about to embark on IVF we will work to prepare you for treatment.

As part of this review, we are always thinking about how you can give yourself the highest chance of success while keeping the cost of assisted reproductive treatment down. 

Ideally preparation for an IVF Cycle begins 3 months prior to the start of the IVF cycle. Aiming to make the body as strong as possible before undergoing IVF and in some cases help increase the chances of conception before the cycle begins.

Once the IVF cycle begins an IVF treatment protocol is used throughout the IVF cycle to encourage the body to produce the appropriate response.


Timing Of Treatments

Treatment is usually given weekly in the initial phases.

Phase 1 - Menstrual Period Day 1-3

The main aim of phase 1 treatment is to encourage an efficient removal and remodeling of the endometrial layers, providing a uterine environment conducive for implantation of an embryo.

Phase 2 - Follicle Development 

Acupuncture at this stage supports and regulates the blood and uterine functioning, increasing blood flow to the ovaries and uterus aiding in getting maximum delivery of nutrients, oxygen, and drugs to the follicles as they are developing and promoting the development of the uterine lining. Acupuncture helps to relieve stress and calm the emotions. We know from research that women who feel stressed during IVF procedures have significantly lower implantation rates, so its important treatment is continued during this phase.

Phase 3 – Follicle maturation, trigger injection + egg collection

Acupuncture is very useful in this phase, addressing any stress and anxiety as well as any side-effects. Headaches, abdominal distension and pain, irritability, nausea, and insomnia are often experienced at this stage.

Phase 4a - from Egg collection to Embryo Transfer

Acupuncture administered 2 -3 days after egg collection aims at restoring and settling any tissue trauma, reducing effects of internal bleeding, reducing swelling of the ovaries, and promoting circulation in the lining of the uterus, creating favorable implantation conditions.

Additional help is given to support you through what can be a nervous time as you wait to hear whether the eggs have fertilised and then if they are developing.

Embryo transfer – Two treatments are given either side of embryo transfer.

A pre-transfer treatment is given to improve blood flow to the uterus, relax your mind and cervix and prepare your body to receive the embryos.

After transfer an acupuncture treatment is given. This gently encourages circulation to help nourish the embryos, boost energy, relaxes the uterus and aid implantation.

Phase  4b from day after embryo transfer until pregnancy test or period - Optional

Implantation and development of the early placenta occurs in this phase. We support this process with treatments that reinforce and play an important supportive role at a time known as the 2 week wait period, which many patients describe as the most difficult time in the cycle.