Increasing Success Rates for our Patients Through Cutting Edge Research
One year after I began practicing acupuncture, a patient wanted help trying to conceive. She was about to go through IVF and brought me a recent study showing acupuncture treatments both before and after embryo transfer significantly increased the success rates of live birth– in other words, taking home a healthy baby, not just achieving pregnancy. Fast-forward 15 years later, and my staff and I have helped over 2,500 couples and individuals bring a child into their lives either with the help of assisted reproductive technologies like IVF and IUI or just those trying on their own.
2017 was special one for Acupuncture and IVF at HAC. We assisted 187 IVF embryo transfers at almost every clinic in the Delaware Valley. We went from Chesterbrook to Abington, Philly to Marlton, NJ, and Bryn Mawr to Wilmington, DE. We did it as we always do, usually with barely a day’s notice and on any and every day of the week. For us, that was a record, and I feel humbled and honored that so many women and couples put their trust in us to join them at one of their most vulnerable moments; helping to make a turbulent day easier and more successful, full bladder and all.
The success rates of IVF have dramatically increased over the last 15 years. Simultaneously, evidence continuously emerges that acupuncture can increase those success rates. When we first began treating women going through IVF, we completed a treatment before and after the embryo transfer. Since then, more research has indicated that regular treatment for four to eight weeks leading up to the transfer, and follow up treatments afterwards, can lead to an increase in the quality of eggs retrieved (especially in previously poor responders), as well as a better uterine environment for implantation (due to more blood flow and thickening of the lining).
A few years ago, we started to notice a trend in the IVF research that bed rest after embryo transfer didn’t appear to be helping as it was intended to. One study even indicated that immediately after the embryo was placed in the uterus, the best outcomes came when patients simply got off the table and resumed normal daily life – that even laying for 10 minutes might have a negative impact. This made sense to me as embryos don’t really move once their implanted, regardless of how active a woman is (and blood flow is always better while someone is active.) This new research seemed to be at odds with the standard protocol of doing an acupuncture treatment right before transfer followed by a second treatment right after the transfer, having the patients lay for another 25-30 minutes.
As more evidence showed that bed rest was not increasing success rates, I decided to alter the treatment plan for our patients. I began giving a single acupuncture treatment, performed immediately before embryo transfer. We continued to perform this treatment on-site at the IVF clinics, as this still seemed to offer the best results. To dig deeper, I even commissioned a study using this new treatment protocol while visiting a clinic in the Middle East. The study of 500 cycles of IVF seemed to confirm that it not only maintained the success rate boost we’ve always provided, but trended towards being even a little better.
For the last three years, that protocol has now become our standard. Our success rates have not only continued on track, but rose even higher last year. As far as I know, the Healing Arts Center is currently the only clinic in the country using this protocol, as we are constantly trying to stay on the cutting edge of research to provide the best possible care to our patients. Though we wish none of our patients had to go through IVF, our goal is always to help them go through the fewest number of IVF cycles as possible.
For 2018 and beyond, it will continue to be our pleasure to assist women and men struggling with infertility in every manner we can. We will continue to be available 365 days a year to assist anyone going through IVF– offering them a hand to hold and an effective treatment to boost their success rates on transfer day.
If you are interested in learning more, please contact us.