Fertility Acupuncture - Vela Wellness
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Fertility Acupuncture

At Vela Wellness we specialize in supporting you through the continuum of fertility, pregnancy and postpartum. Allie Machen, LAc has been supporting growing families for over a decade as both a doula and an acupuncturist. She is proud to be a Fellow of the American Board of Reproductive Oriental Medicine (ABORM), a board dedicated to promoting the best combination of both Eastern and Western reproductive care. ABORM fellows have passed a rigorous exam, stay up to date on the latest fertility treatments and are able to work collaboratively with your western fertility doctors. While roughly 1 in 8 couples experience infertility, it can be extremely isolating and daunting. Schedule a free consult to learn how bringing an experienced acupuncturist on to your support team can help.

 

Fertility acupuncture is beneficial when you are:

  • Hoping to regulate your cycle to prepare for future conception or when coming off birth control
  • Trying to conceive naturally without the help of medication, IUI or IVF
  • Working with a provider doing medicated or unmedicated IUI
  • Going through IVF
  • Transferring an embryo (check out this research on transfer day acupuncture!)

 

Acupuncture works to enhance fertility by:

  • Regulating reproductive hormones
  • Normalizing insulin sensitivity
  • Promoting uterine and ovarian blood flow increasing the thickness of the uterine lining
  • Promoting ovulation
  • Lessening the side effects of medications used to treat infertility during IUI and IVF cycles

 

Acupuncture and herbal medicine together have also been shown to:

  • Increase sperm count, morphology and motility
  • Improve egg quality over a period of three months

 

The nitty gritty:

  • Acupuncture may stimulate and blood flow by inhibiting central sympathetic nerve activity
  • Acupuncture may help regulate and enhance menstrual regularity, fertility and ovulation by triggering neurotransmitters which increase GnRH
  • Acupuncture may stimulate production endogenous opioids, which may inhibit the central nervous system’s outflow and the biological stress response

 

Conditions impacting fertility that acupuncture and East Asian medicine may treat include but are not limited to:

  • Painful or heavy periods and PMS
  • Irregular cycles or anovulation
  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Low AMH
  • Low progesterone or luteal phase issues
  • History of miscarriage or recurrent miscarriage
  • Unexplained infertility

Acupuncture and IVF

Many people chose to optimize their IVF success with acupuncture. Starting regular treatments roughly three months before IVF is recommended to maximize egg quality before stimulation and egg retrieval. Acupuncture is also recommended leading up to embryo transfers and has been shown to help increase the uterine lining facilitating implantation of the embryo. Two mini acupuncture sessions just before and after an embryo transfer have also been shown to increase the likelihood of pregnancy. In 2002, a prospective randomized study of 160 patients undergoing IVF showed clinical pregnancy in 42.5% of the acupuncture group and 26.3% of the control group (those who did not receive acupuncture).

 

Stress and the fertility journey

-People going through infertility experience high levels of stress and anxiety. Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture significantly reduces stress and anxiety particularly for those going through IVF. Just a few needles are enough to bring the body out of fight or flight and into a more relaxed state, increasing resiliency in a time that often pushes people to their limits.

 

Fertility acupuncture FAQ

 

When is the right time for fertility acupuncture?

You can see a fertility acupuncturist anytime! You do not need to wait until you have been diagnosed with infertility or other reproductive issues. Folks are welcome when they have just started trying to get pregnant, been trying for 4 months or 4 years. You can come in before you have seen a reproductive endocrinologist of after you have established care. If you are working with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) we will collaborate with their treatment plan to get you the best of both worlds. If being proactive and building your support team will help you feel less stressed then it is the right time for acupuncture!

 

What does fertility acupuncture look like?

After an initial consultation you will be provided with a customized treatment plan made just for you taking your life and dietary preferences into account. This plan will likely include weekly acupuncture sessions, recommendations around diet, lifestyle and supplements and possibly Chinese herbal formulas. Weekly acupuncture is recommended for at least three months to see changes in cycle irregularly, egg quality, menstrual flow and ovulation. During that time you will likely experience positive changes in sleep, stress, energy and mood as well!

 

Is acupuncture safe to continue once pregnancy is achieved?

YES! Acupuncture is safe and beneficial in pregnancy. Studies have continued to reinforce acupuncture’s safety in pregnancy. Not only is acupuncture safe, it is recommended in the first trimester to help reduce stress, prevent miscarriage, boost the immune system and mitigate pregnancy side effects. Read more about prenatal acupuncture here (link to prenatal acu page).

 

More questions? Schedule a free consult or initial appointment with Allie Machen, LAc to learn more about how acupuncture can help enhance your fertility and make your family building goals reality!

2Paulus et al, Fertil Steril 2002 Vol 77, pg 721-724

3Studies include: Isoyama et al, 2012, de Lacey et al, 2011, Balk et al, 2010, Domar et al, 2009

4Park et al, 2014

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