How often should I have acupuncture treatments for infertility?
posted: Feb. 25, 2012.
This is a question that we hear more frequently than perhaps any other, and it's a terrific question! Before you begin any treatment plan, you want to know what kind of commitment you're going to have to make both in time and money. Often this question is answered with, "It all depends on your situation", which is very, very true, but here are some guidelines that should actually give you a little more to work with.
Generally speaking, if you are a woman trying to conceive, the most important times to have acupuncture are during the follicular phase - day 5, 6, 7 or 8 of your menstrual cycle (day 1 being the first day of heavy flow), the day of, day before or day after ovulation (as indicated by your LH surge), and during implantation time (6 - 10 days after ovulation). This works out to be approximately once a week except when you're menstruating, so most women should be receiving acupuncture treatments roughly three to four times per month.
If there is something more significant going on, like lining issues for example, your acupuncturist may want to see you twice a week until it is properly addressed. However, the majority of the women we treat fall into the once a week category.
If you are going through an IVF cycle, it's best if you can start acupuncture 6 to 8 weeks prior to transfer. The most important times to have acupuncture are the same as above, however, once you begin your stimulation medications you may be seen twice a week depending upon information gathered from your ultrasounds.
In an ideal world, we would like to begin seeing you 3 - 4 months prior to conception/transfer so that we can help with egg quality, work on any cycle or lining irregularities, address any nutritional concerns, and help reduce stress. If you are going through IVF, FET or DET we are also working to prepare you for your transfer.
If you are considering acupuncture, I encourage you to get in for your initial visit as soon as you can. That way you and your acupuncturist can develop a treatment plan that best suits you, even if you don't start the treatment plan until later. Getting that first appointment under your belt also allows you the opportunity to determine if acupuncture is right for you and if it's something you want to continue to pursue.
If supplementation or herbs are warranted, they take time to work, so beginning earlier is best. Even if you decide to wait to start acupuncture, don't wait to start supplementation. It takes 3 - 4 months for an egg to mature. If you can get started on a good quality preconception formula 3 - 4 months prior to conception/transfer, your eggs are going to have the opportunity to grow and mature in a nutrient rich environment. Our experience is that women who supplement their diets with appropriate amounts of vitamins and antioxidants typically have embryos with less fragmentation.
Why acupuncture? Blood flow, blood flow, blood flow! This is how we nourish every single cell in our bodies - blood flow. We want to get you into a deep state of relaxation, taking you out of your fight and flight mode, and encourage blood flow to the internal organs. Why acupuncture? Acupuncture helps regulate and balance the hormones by affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and is a very important tool in the fertility process.
Do you need to come twice a week? Probably not. Do you need to come once a week? It all depends on your particular situation (you knew I was going to say that, right?). If you are 4 months away from your IVF transfer, maybe you need to come every two weeks. If you're 60 days away, maybe once a week. If your lining is thin, maybe twice a week. It really and truly does depend on where you are in the process, what specific difficulties you are experiencing, and how you are responding to your treatments.