How far in advance do I need to have acupuncture prior to trying to get pregnant?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine provide the best results (in terms of egg quality) when administered for at least 3 months prior to trying to conceive. Western medical science has documented that eggs are recruited about 90-150 days before ovulation in a process called folliculogenesis. During the three-month pre-conception period, acupuncture, herbs, supplements, dietary therapy and lifestyle modifications can significantly improve cellular health and enhance egg quality. While it’s not absolutely necessary to wait to conceive (and many of our patients get pregnant before the three months of treatment), our clinical experience shows that this getting treatments consistently treatment for at least 8-12 weeks yields the best results, especially in cases of diminished ovarian reserve, advanced maternal age, or recurrent pregnancy loss.
I am undergoing IUI/IVF treatments. What are the suggested acupuncture protocols?
We work closely with several reproductive endocrinologists in the area and are trusted by many as the go-to clinic for complementary fertility support. We recommend starting treatments at least three months prior to IVF retrieval for the best results in terms of improving egg quality (see above). For IUI, most patients come in weekly including one treatment as close as possible to their IUI (e.g., on cycle day 11-14 for a day 14 IUI). For IVF, weekly treatment for 8-12 weeks is ideal followed by 2x weekly treatments in the 4 weeks leading up to egg retrieval. If you don’t have three months of time to prepare for IVF, getting regular treatments (1- 2x weekly) at any point in the process will improve hormonal response, blood flow to the uterus, and uterine receptivity. Before a frozen embryo transfer, we recommend 2x weekly for 2-3 weeks unless your Doppler ultrasound of uterine arteries shows hypertension (lack of adequate blood flow to the uterus) in which case 2x weekly for 4 weeks is recommended prior to transfer. We have used these protocols with great success for many years and they are part of our evidence- based approach to fertility treatment. Treatment is also recommended on the day of transfer (many fertility clinics have acupuncturists available on-site for pre/post transfer acupuncture treatments and our practitioners can go on-site at some locations). Patients can continue treatments again starting at least one week after the transfer to promote a healthy pregnancy or start back once pregnancy is confirmed.
Is it safe to continue acupuncture if I get pregnant?
Acupuncture is completely safe in pregnancy as long as you are working with a practitioner who specializes in women’s health and has additional training in reproductive medicine. Acupuncture can ease morning sickness, relieve back pain, increase energy levels, and decrease depression and anxiety in pregnancy. We usually recommend weekly or twice monthly treatments in the first trimester, monthly in the second trimester and then weekly treatments for the last four weeks of pregnancy for labor preparation.