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Research studies show acupuncture, in combination with IVF can increase pregnancy rates, increase implantation rates, reduce the risk of miscarriage, decrease the occurrence of ectopic pregnancies, and reduce stress. At The Fertility Clinic, our treatments reflect these evidence based studies while paying attention to each patient's individual needs along the way.
The Fertility Clinic has been part of the larger Milwaukee fertility community since 2004, providing care to patients going through western fertility treatments. We have had years of experience working with Reproductive Endocrinologists in Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as many OB/GYNs. We understand how to customize treatments safely and effectively for our patients that are utilizing fertility medications and ART procedures including Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) and IVF and how to make them more successful.
The British Medical Journal recently published an analysis that compiled all of the current research data on the effects of acupuncture and IVF. Of the clinical trials investigated, the team of researchers found that almost all trials reported positive findings. Taken collectively, they showed a 65% increase in establishment of pregnancy, an 87% increase in continuing pregnancy, and a 91% increase in live births.
The team of researchers and scientists that attempted to measure the effect of acupuncture on IVF treatment success was led by Dr. Eric Manheimer of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His team’s findings were published in newspapers around the globe under the headline, Course of Acupuncture May Raise Success of IVF Treatment by 65%.
Recent clinical research and medical studies have demonstrated the benefits of an integrated approach to reproductive care. Acupuncture has been shown to have a positive effect on IVF success and take-home baby rates.
Couples planning for a future IVF cycle should ideally begin preparatory acupuncture treatment 3 months prior to beginning their medicated cycle. Because ovarian follicles go through a 90-120 day follicular development period before they mature for ovulation, and sperm require a period of at least 90 days for maturation, we generally recommend a minimum of 3 months of treatment prior to IVF stimulation in order to best maximize egg and sperm quality.
Chinese medicine can greatly help to prepare the body in these areas, where western medicine offers few treatment options. Improving the quality of the parents' eggs and sperm prior to IVF is our main focus to help achieve a successful pregnancy and decrease the risk for early miscarriage.
For women, treatment is directed towards improving egg quality, hormonal balance and preparing an ideal uterine environment for implantation. We accomplish this through improving ovarian functioning, regulating reproductive hormones, increasing blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus, and by improving the quality of the follicular fluids that nourish the developing eggs. Pre-existing menstrual irregularities and other factors affecting fertility can be treated during this time to maximize natural reproductive health. The better prepared the body and mind are for the procedure ahead, the greater the chance in achieving a healthy pregnancy through IVF.
For many couples choosing to undergo an IVF cycle, male fertility factors also play a role. In the 3 months prior to IVF, Chinese medicine can be utilized to improve upon the quality of the sperm. Treatment is aimed at improving sperm count, morphology and motility. As with the woman’s eggs, healthier sperm contribute to healthier, more viable embryos.
Acupuncture treatment during the IVF cycle helps to increase a woman’s appropriate response to hormonal stimulation. Treatment varies dependent on the phase of IVF: down-regulation, ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, uterine preparation, and embryo transfer.
A study published in "Fertility and Sterility" in 2009, by Dr. Paul Magarelli and Diane Cridennda, examined the effect that acupuncture had on women during IVF stimulation. Women who used acupuncture as part of their protocols had lower levels of stress hormones than women who did not use acupuncture. The acupuncture appeared to help normalize the levels of cortisol and prolactin that are normally negatively affected by IVF drugs. This may have positive implications for both egg quality and implantation. Both the pregnancy rates and live birth rates were significantly higher in the group of women who received acupuncture.
The Fertility Clinic at Practice Longevity preforms acupuncture treatments designed to support the different phases of IVF while decreasing the side-effects often experienced from IVF medications. Specifically, work on the following treatment goals:
• Improve blood flow to the uterus and ovaries to improve ovarian response to hormonal stimulation during IVF
• Thicken uterine lining to encourage implantation at time of transfer and into early pregnancy
• Decrease uterine cramping to encourage implantation and reduce miscarriage of the transferred embryo/embryos
• Decrease cortisol and reduce stress levels to improve LH and progesterone production to develop fertile cycle dynamics
The Fertility Clinic recommends following the same guidelines set forth in clinical research for the timing of acupuncture surrounding embryo transfer. Research demonstrates a significant increase in conception rates in women who receive acupuncture before and after embryo transfer.
We understand that there is always uncertainty about the exact scheduling of the embryo transfer until after egg retrieval, and sometimes even later. We do our very best to accommodate our patients' treatment schedules to allow for acupuncture to be used within the recommended time frames. This means we will schedule weekends and off-days and hours for as needed pre and post transfer treatments.
The "Journal of Fertility and Sterility" published a 2006 study by Dr. Lars Westergaard examining the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment pre and post embryo transfer on the outcome of IVF cycles. Dr. Westergaard found that acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer resulted in increases in ongoing pregnancy rates from IVf of over 60%.
Acupuncture should be preformed within 24 hours prior to the scheduled embryo transfer.
Acupuncture post-transfer will be determined based on several factors. We take into account the stage of development of your transferred embryo/embryos, your amount of time on bed-rest per your physician, and your personal history. Generally we see patients within 48 hours post-transfer, but sometimes 3-4 days post-transfer. If you are able to have your post-transfer acupuncture treatment on-site, you will not repeat this treatment in our office.
The goals of pre/post-embryo transfer acupuncture treatment are:
• Relaxation (less stress produces higher pregnancy rates)
• Improved blood flow to the uterus to promote higher implantation rates
• Decreased uterine spasms and cramping to improve implantation rates
• Decreased incidence of miscarriage.
Treatment with Chinese medicine should be continued throughout the first trimester to protect early pregnancy and prevent miscarriage. Chinese medicine has a long history of treating underlying factors that can lead to miscarriage. At The Fertility Clinic, we continue to see women once per week through the 12th week of pregnancy.
" I am still amazed that I am here, 16 weeks pregnant with twins! I was told that my egg quality was so poor after my first IVF that the only way I would ever have a child was through an egg donor. I completely believe that the acupuncture treatments got us to where we are today, and I have you to thank. Thank you for your support and encouragement. You are amazing! " -Sarah
RESEARCH STUDY: A landmark study, published in 2002 in the respected medical journal "Fertility and Sterility" by Dr. Wolfgang Paulus, found that women who received acupuncture treatment in conjunction with their IVF cycle, had an increase in ongoing pregnancy rates of over 60% compared to the control group.
The Fertility Clinic is a specialty reproductive acupuncture center with expertise and experience in the treatment of female and male fertility.
Erika Foy is a board certified, reproductive acupuncture specialist with a strong commitment to the quality of care and support she provides to her patients.
The Fertility Clinic at Practice Longevity
4040 N. Calhoun Rd.
Brookfield, Wi 53005
The Fertility Clinic is located in Brookfield and provides acupuncture fertility services to the greater Milwaukee area of Wisconsin.
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