How can acupuncture support you through IVF?
Beverley Law, Acupuncture specialist at CARE explains...
“If you are trying for a baby and having fertility treatment you will, of course, be under the care of specialist nurses, doctors and embryologists and inevitably it is a clinical process. Whilst this is really important, there are lots of things you can choose to do to support your treatment and help you feel more involved.
Many patients find it difficult to relax and de-stress – having IVF or other treatments can sometimes be stressful or cause anxiety or tension. A perfect combination that might then lead to headaches, migraine, back or shoulder pain. I have used acupuncture to support patients at all the different stages of their journey from natural conception to fertility treatment or IVF.
I shape and adapt your acupuncture care to your specific situation and aim to make the rest of your fertility journey as stress free, easy and happy as possible”
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a holistic form of healing developed over several thousands of years as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture treatment aims to balance the body's energy called Qi (chee) by inserting very fine needles into specific points on the body. TCM has described and mapped these points. Acupuncture points are found along fourteen meridians. These are pathways for energy flow in the body.
There are more than 2000 Acupuncture points, each able to regulate, restore or correct different functions of the body. When the human body's energy flow is unbalanced or depleted, a person may feel ill.
By stimulating acupuncture points the imbalance of energy can be treated. Acupuncture points are the places where the energy flow is at its most superficial level and therefore accessible to treatment. If you have ever been tempted to massage your temples to try to ease a headache you may inadvertently be stimulating an important acupuncture point that is used in treating head pain.
• Meridians (or energy flow pathways) lie very close to the main nerve branches. Therefore, when Acupuncture points are stimulated, the nerves are also stimulated, which produces noticeable pain relief.
• Each organ has its own specific (autonomic) nerve supply. By stimulating each organ's nerve supply, acupuncture can also have an effect on major organs and body systems.
• In musculoskeletal problems, stimulation of Acupuncture points increases blood flow to the damaged area, supplying it with extra oxygen and nutrients, aiding and speeding up the healing process.
• Acupuncture alters the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain killing chemicals, and hormones.
Does Acupuncture really work?
Several studies have looked at the benefit of combining Acupuncture and fertility treatments.
- In 2016 a study by Homerton University Hospital, London assigned acupuncture to 160 women during their IVF cycle. Twelve months later the success rate amongst these women was double that of those who did not have Acupuncture.
- A 2002 study (Paulus et al) suggested that Acupuncture could significantly increase pregnancy rate.
- In 2008 a study published by the British Medical Journal concluded that there was evidence of benefit.
“During your first consultation with me I will talk to you about any symptoms you may have, as well as get an up to date summary of your present and past medical history. After the assessment I will agree with you the preferred treatment plan. Sometimes I might suggest you consult another health care practitioner before acupuncture starts.
When all the relevant information has been obtained, your treatment can begin. I select the most appropriate acupuncture points - although there are 2000 recognised acupuncture points, only a small number of these will be used in any treatment session.
Fine needles will be inserted into the most appropriate acupuncture points – which might be away from the site of the problem. For example, a point on a hand may be used to treat back ache. The needles will usually be left in place for an average of 10-15 minutes, although this may be shorter or longer, depending on what is being treated. During this time most patients feel quite relaxed, some even fall asleep!”
Does acupuncture hurt?
“All my patients ask me this. The Acupuncture needles are very fine, much finer than the needles used in injections or blood tests. Some are thinner than human hair. When the needle is inserted, some people feel a very slight tingling sensation. Most people are pleasantly surprised that the feeling of the needle being inserted is not as uncomfortable as they were expecting”.
Are there any side effects with acupuncture?
Acupuncture is extremely safe and rarely produces any side effects. Only single use, sterile, disposable needles are used in practice. The effects of acupuncture treatment vary from person to person. For example, some people may feel hot or cold, or feel a sensation of tingling or twitching in another part of their body away from the area treated. Most patients, however, feel a deep sense of warmth and relaxation. Many people often feel sleepy after acupuncture treatment. Some patients, especially if treated for musculo-skeletal problems, might feel sore for a few days after being treated.
“I’m an experienced Acupuncturist, member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAC), and Associate member of the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS). I’ve taught acupuncture and I’m also a founder member of Zita West’s network for reproductive health.
My private acupuncture practice is well established at CARE Fertility in Nottingham and Mansfield. I also work as an IVF co-ordinator supporting fertility patients through treatment.
I am passionate about the work I do and would be very happy to help you. I know that IVF cycles can be unpredictable but I can be totally flexible with appointments to when you need them”.
Wishing you the very best – Beverley Law