Over the recent years, more and more women have been turning towards acupuncture to help their pregnancies and labour, to help increase their fertility, or to increase their chances of a successful outcome in assisted conception procedures. This has been a big growth area of my practice experience and I have undertaken advanced training with Zita West, who is a leading practitioner in this field.
I hold a postgraduate certificate in obstetric acupuncture, issued in conjunction with the Royal College of Midwives. Also a postgraduate certificate in fertility acupuncture issued in conjunction with the Royal College of Physicians.
I am a co-founder of ' infantDoor' the Coventry and Warwickshire acupuncture team for fertility and childbirth. This exciting new network seeks to make it more accessible for women to have acupuncture as part of their IVF, assisted conception or fertility programs and also for the purposes of childbirth.
I am experienced in treating women undergoing IVF and IUI cycles and also those women who are undergoing egg donation. There has been recent and well publicised research which suggests that women who have acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer have a 60 % greater chance of success. Additionally research suggests that acupuncture greatly reduces the chances of miscarriage in the first trimester for IVF patients. I am more than happy to treat women during their IVF cycle and pregnancy.
I do however, encourage women to begin their acupuncture as early as possible in their journey, so that treatment can take root before the IVF cycle begins. The goal here is not just to try to support the work of the embryologist - but to support the woman undergoing IVF - getting her into balance physically and emotionally so that she carry a pregnancy to full term. This is also the case with my IUI patients, and for those who are coming to see me for reasons of so called 'unexplained infertility'.
In our first few treatments I will be rectifying underlying imbalances, and helping with stress, including all those emotional knots around not having a baby. Stress can undoubtedly affect your ability to conceive: The emphasis at this stage of your treatment is preparing you for pregnancy - and treatments will be very much directed to promoting the blood supply to you ovaries and the health of your uterus lining. For those women undergoing assisted conception, very often hormone medication creates a lot of uncomfortable side effects, and acupuncture will help minimise these. During the hyper stimulation phase of your IVF cycle, there is always some degree of Ovarian Hyper stimulation Syndrome. There is no research to show that acupuncture can increase the risk of OHSS, and it is very much a personal decision between you and your acupuncturist as to whether you receive treatment at this time. I am always willing to see my women at this time, to keep any early symptoms of OHSS at bay. In IVF situations I recommend a post egg retrieval treatment to help settle the uterus ready for implantation, after what is after all abdominal surgery. Many women like to have a pre and post embryo transfer treatment. I have found it better for my patients to have this treatment in my clinic rather than in the fertility clinic setting, but I am happy to accompany you to your fertility clinic if you wish, or to treat you at home. A week or so after transfer, I treat women in order to anchor any potential pregnancy.
It is of course fantastic when my patients announce they have a positive result, but even then I often see anxiety can remain around the pregnancy until the three month scan. Acupuncture is very good, at this time, and of course helps morning sickness.
You will know from your own experience or research that the IVF/IUI
journey can take many twists and turns. Disappointments are very often
part and parcel of the IVF journey. Acupuncture isn't there just for the
journey ahead, but also for the pitfalls along the way. Your treatments
will help you to pick yourself up ready to start all over again.
However, sometimes women feel enough is enough, there is more to life. At
these times acupuncture helps them to bridge this transition.