Optimal IVF Acupuncture Protocols: Natural Fertility Support in Ottawa
Updated: Jun 2
The use of fertility acupuncture for IVF began in the early 2000's with the first clinical trial observing an improvement in success rates for patients that added acupuncture to their treatment protocols. Back in 1999 the use of fertility acupuncture was used to limit the pain during oocyte retrieval and results were published for many other research institutes to follow suit and see if they could reproduce the same results.
Since then we have now observed many studies and trials investigating the use of fertility acupuncture to improve success rates during IVF. Studies have been published all around the world: China, USA, Italy, Austria, and many more! With 2 decades of research, we have come a long way from the first research paper published in 1999, and just like any research, our protocols have changed as well. Newer protocols that have shown better and more promising results.
The original acupuncture protocols, dubbed the 'Paulus Protocol' has been shown to not improve success rates for IVF with better, larger studies. But different protocols building on the Paulus protocol, dubbed modified Paulus Protocols, seem to have more promising results. Since then, different types of acupuncture have also been investigated: laser, electro, dry, subcutaneous stimulation acupuncture (without having to puncture the skin).
The studies have shown that the best protocols, or the ones that show an improvement in the IVF success rates use the newer modified protocols, this means they are selecting different acupuncture points.
IVF Fertility acupuncture seems to be most effective in patients who have previously failed IVFs or implantation failure. This subgroup of patients see the most significant increase in success rates when integrating acupuncture in to the IVF fertility treatment plan. In addition, use of electroacupuncture seems to show more promising results when compared to standard dry needle acupuncture.
Since 2013 studies have consistently shown that acupuncture just on the day of embryo transfer (before and after) are unsuccessful in improving success rates, but when combined with more frequent acupuncture (i.e. during the stimulation phase and the implantation phase) we see a significant improvement in the IVF success rates! But in the newer studies we see that when 3 or more acupuncture treatments are given prior to the transfer, and within 24 hours of the transfer, there is a boost in the success rates.
Overall, those who benefit the most from IVF Fertility Acupuncture are:
Patients with previously failed IVFs
Patients with an estimated success rate of 32% or lower with IVF
Patients who receive on average 3 or more acupuncture sessions and are focused on prior to the transfer, instead of only post-transfer acupuncture
Patients that received a modified Paulus protocol for the acupuncture points selected for the treatment
The Mechanism by which IVF Acupuncture improves success rates by about 30% (relative risk - meaning the success rate sees an increase by 1/3 of the baseline pregnancy rate):
Increased blood flow to the Uterus
Secretion of Beta Endorphins which influences production of estrogen and progesterone
Production of cytokines to support implantation and pregnancy
This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor.