Dr. Sara Ryan has specialized in working with fertility patients for 18 years and has found this to be one of the most rewarding aspects of her clinic. She works with people who are trying to conceive naturally, as well as those who are going through IVF, IUI, frozen embryo transfer cycles (FET), clomid cycles or other.
She does an extensive consultation with her fertility patients to try to find the missing link. Even when there is nothing that is obviously causing a problem, acupuncture, by itself, increases a woman's and a man's fertility by removing blockages in their body that are preventing them from being able to conceive.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can:
Improved IVF success rates by 65%
Improved live birth rates by 91%
Improve ability to conceive naturally, in the absence of clomid, IUI, IVF or FET
Please review this article in pubmed
Dr. Ryan finds that many people who have been trying to conceive for years respond quite quickly to acupuncture alone. She customizes the treatment to the individual as no two patients are the same. She bases her treatments on several clinically proven treatment protocols and has studied under many experts in the field: Dr. Bradley Horn, Dr. Wendy Yu, Dr. Jane Lyttleton, Dr. Wolfganag Paulus - to name a Few.
"So, how does it work?
As you have probably learned by now, acupuncture itself relies on the gentle insertion of thin, fine, disposable needles at specific points on the body. In Chinese Medicine, we believe that there are 14 major pathways or meridians where blood and what we call qi (otherwise known as energy) moves. Stagnation in any of these meridians can cause many obstacles to fertility in males and females. Acupuncture helps to unblock this stagnation at different points.
One of the ways in which acupuncture infertility treatment helps is by reducing stress, which is often a key factor in the fertility of both men and women. When people are under stress, the brain’s neurochemical balance is altered, thus changing hormone levels and disrupting the pituitary balance that is key to the reproductive cycle. Acupuncture infertility treatment counters the effects of stress by releasing endorphins in the brain.
Stress is capable of preventing a woman from ovulating entirely. It can also create spasms in the fallopian tubes and the uterus, and this, in turn, can interfere with movement and implantation of a fertilized egg.
In men, stress can alter sperm counts, motility, and cause impotence. In addition, any blockages, as we described above, can inhibit sperm production, motility / mobility. Acupuncture can help by releasing these blockages.
In addition, acupuncture for infertility produces few or no side effects while performing similar functions as the drugs used by western medical fertility procedures. Or, if undergoing an assisted cycle, acupuncture can help to reduce the unwanted side effects of fertility medications and treatments.
On top of helping to achieve pregnancy, a major goal of infertility treatment is helping the patient to stay pregnant, have a healthy and happy pregnancy, and, of course, a healthy baby!
During pregnancy, acupuncture can help with morning sickness, heartburn, nausea, anxiety and insomnia, and aches and pains caused by pregnancy (low back pain and headaches are examples),
Overall, acupuncture can help with fertility in so many ways. Dr. Ryan finds working with fertility patients to be among the most rewarding parts of her practice.
What is the treatment plan for fertility acupuncture?
This is a question that I hear often from my patients or prospective patients. I wish I had a really solid answer for them. Unfortunately, your body doesn’t heal itself overnight, and everyone is so different that expectations need to be set individually. What I’d really like to emphasize is that acupuncture, herbal formulas, diet and lifestyle changes help your body to heal itself. Once your body is in balance, things like conception, regular periods / cycles and hormone balance can occur.
If possible, under conventional circumstances, I like to start working with my patients about 3 months before starting to try to conceive. The reason I say 3 months of treatment is because that's how long it takes to make an egg and/or sperm cell. However, it is ok to start acupuncture right when starting to try to conceive! It is very common that people will wait – so do not fret and think it is a waste of time if you wait. Also, your partner should also ideally also be getting treatment. But it is ok if that is not possible also! Whatever you can do is helpful - oftentimes we will have quick results and do not need the whole 3 months, nor do we always need to treat both partners.
Also, oftentimes, there is nothing wrong, physically, with the patient. They might be coming in just to support their bodies while they are trying to conceive naturally, or just to improve the outcome of fertility treatments, or because they are in a same sex couple, or single people wanting to have children, frozen embryo transfers, and the list goes on. So, there is so much flexibility in a cycle!
However, no matter what your circumstances, I highly recommend starting treatment as soon as you can. I will also be making dietary and lifestyle recommendations for the patient to incorporate into their routine as part of their treatment protocols – starting these changes as soon as possible can have a large impact on the whole process as well.
HERE IS A SAMPLE FERTILITY ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT PLAN FOR AN IVF PATIENT (IUI and natural cycles are not too much different):
*ORAL BIRTH CONTROL or ESTROGEN PRIMING: 1 x week STIMULATION PHASE (Usually 10-14 days): 1-2x week, 2-4 treatments during this time.
*BEFORE TRANSFER: At least once, but possibly twice (if hyper-stimulated for example) between retrieval and transfer. One of the visits should be approximately within 24 hours before transfer (if possible).
*POST TRANSFER: Acupuncture as close as possible to after-transfer (many come to the office right after).
*LEADING UP TO PREGNANCY TEST: Once more in the week before the pregnancy test,
*Then once a week throughout first trimester. Many will continue treatments throughout pregnancy at a rate that patient is comfortable with (1x week to 1x month and then increasing in very late pregnancy).
So that is a “perfect-world” acupuncture fertility schedule, but we all have busy lives and other issues that may come up. Always talk with Dr. Ryan about time, or any other concerns, and we can work out the best possible plan for you, given the reality of your own situation and circumstances!
Feel free to reach out to the office to make an appointment or if you have any questions. Dr. Ryan is always happy to help!
Call Acupuncture RI, Dr. Sara Ryan, with any questions you may have or if you would like to schedule an appointment! (401)261-6247