According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 9.3 million American women are currently using assisted reproductive technology (ART) services to help them cope with fertility issues. Of Available ART services, one of the most widely used is in vitro fertilization or IVF. This consists of harvesting a woman’s eggs and fertilizing them outside her body. The embryo that results from this fertilization is introduced into the woman’s uterus to develop as a normal pregnancy. In vitro fertilization is used in cases of fallopian tube blockage, low sperm count, abnormal cervical factors, immunologic factors affecting either partner, infertility after tubal surgery, infertility after treatment for endometriosis, and for unexplained fertility. This procedure was first successfully used in the United States in 1981.

A widely published recent German study found that using acupuncture with IVF achieved a 42% clinical pregnancy rate compared to only 26% in the control group that did not receive acupuncture. When acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are used in conjunction with IVF, clinical experience suggests the pregnancy rate can be raised to at least 60%.

How does Chinese medicine help to improve IVF success rates?

  • It improves the function of the ovaries to produce better quality eggs.
  • It regulates the hormones to produce a larger number of follicles.
  • It increases the blood flow to the uterus and increases the thickness of the uterine lining.
  • It relaxes the patient and decreases her stress.
  • It helps prevent uterine contractions.
  • It lessens the side effects of the Western drugs used in IVF.
  • It strengthens and regulates the patient’s immune system.
  • It improves male semen to create better quality and quantity of embryos.
  • It decreases the change of miscarriage.

When to use Chinese medicine with IVF

For best results, Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and Chinese dietary and lifestyle therapy, should be used before, during and after IVF. Chinese medicine can help prepare both partners before IVF in order to improve the function of the ovaries, strengthen and regulate the immune system, reduce stress, and improve the quantity and quality of sperm and th equality of the seminal fluid. This is accomplished in the female partner by treating any menstrual irregularities, such as amenorrhea, PMC, endometriosis, uterine myomas (aka fibroids), or heave bleeding due to lack of ovulation. Such preparatory treatment usually lasts 3-6 months. Specific acupuncture and Chinese herbal protocols exist for the treatment of any and all of these menstrual irregularities and gynecological problems.

After successful implantation of the embryo has taken place, Chinese medicine can also be used to help prevent miscarriage. In general, Chinese medicine is extremely effective for preventing miscarriage when threatened miscarriage is due to hormonal imbalances, such as low progesterone. For this purpose, it may be used either preventively when the woman is asymptomatic or even after symptoms of threatened miscarriage have appeared.

© Blue Poppy Press, 2003, for more information and numerous case histories on the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine with IVF, see Acupunture & IVF by Lifang Liang, O.M.D., Ph.D., Lac available from Blue Poppy Press or your local bookstore.

Dr. Raydon is licensed and trained in Chinese medicine and Naturopathy and you will have the advantage of all of her training, expertise and skill to help with your fertility questions, concerns, and treatments.

Services available from Dr. Raydon regarding Fertility and IVF:

  • Acupuncture treatments prior to retrieval (IVF)
  • Acupuncture on the day of transfer (Oregon Reproductive Medicine and OHSU) (IVF)