Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine treatment that relies on the painless but strategic placement of fine needles into very specific points on meridians representing various organs. The needles are used to stimulate certain key “energy points” believed to regulate spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical balance. During an acupuncture visit, specific points on the meridian may be indicated based on either the examination and/or the condition the acupuncturist is attempting to treat. In regards to infertility, points are selected on their ability to regulate menstruation, thicken the lining of the uterus, relax the uterus, “warm” a “cold” uterus, build blood or energy in the body, and provide stress relief – all of which are important in the treatment of infertility. The needles are used one time only, and the infertility treatments are virtually painless. While the needles are in place (for about 30 minutes), most people experience a deep sense of relaxation and usually fall asleep.
Infertility Treatment Frequency
If a patient is expecting to undergo an in vitro fertilization cycle, acupuncture treatment for infertility is recommended once or twice a week for at least one month prior to the approximate date of transfer. Depending on the specific cause of infertility, and timing of the ivf cycle, treatments are recommended weekly for approximately 1-6 months, with the option to have acupuncture on the day of the transfer before and after the transfer which is done at the Somerset office. Optimally, on the day of the transfer, acupuncture is given 25 minutes prior to and after the transfer. Acupuncture treatment for infertility is also recommended three to five days after transfer. Patients who are undergoing intrauterine insemination can also utilize this acupuncture treatment for infertility at IVF New Jersey.
A Visit To The Acupuncturist
The first thing an acupuncturist will do is get a thorough idea of a patient’s medical history and symptoms, both physical and emotional. This is done with a long questionnaire and interview. Then the acupuncturist will examine the patient to find further symptoms, looking closely at the tongue, the pulse at various points in the body, the complexion, general behavior, and other signs like difficult sleep or pains. From this, the practitioner will be able to determine patterns of symptoms which indicate which organs and areas are imbalanced. Depending on the problem, the acupuncturist will insert needles to manipulate chi on one or more of the twelve organ meridians. On these twelve meridians, there are nearly 2,000 points, which can be used in acupuncture, with around 200 points being most frequently used by traditional acupuncturists. During an individual treatment, one to twenty needles may be used, depending on which meridian points are chosen.
A Study of Effectiveness for Infertility/In Vitro Fertilization
Two teams of researchers in Germany and the People’s Republic of China found that adding acupuncture to the infertility treatment regimen of women using assisted reproductive techniques to have a child can dramatically improve a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Their findings, published in the April 2002 issue of Fertility and Sterility (Paulus W, et al. April 2002;77(4): 721-4) and widely reported in the popular press, may bring new hope to thousands of couples who would like to have children but have been dealing with infertility. Patients in both groups received hormone therapy – before and after the embryo transfer – to increase the odds of a successful pregnancy. Patients in the acupuncture group also received two acupuncture sessions: the first treatment 25 minutes before embryo transfer, and the second treatment 25 minutes after transfer.
Six weeks after the embryo transfers were performed, the women were given an ultrasound examination. In the control group, the presence of a fetal sac, the scientists’ criteria for a clinical pregnancy, was found in 21 women (26.3%). In the acupuncture group, the pregnancy rate was “considerably higher,” with 34 women (42.5%) carrying a fetal sac at the time of the examination.
“Acupuncture seems to be a useful tool” for patients looking to increase their chances of becoming pregnant following assisted reproduction therapy, the authors concluded. They added, “As we could not observe any significant differences in co variants between the acupuncture and control groups, the results demonstrate that acupuncture improves pregnancy rate.”
The researchers believe point selection played a key role in acupuncture’s success. “We chose acupuncture points that relax the uterus according to the principles of [Traditional Chinese Medicine],” they wrote, adding that because of acupuncture’s influence on the autonomic nervous system, needling specific points would “optimize endometrial receptivity.”
Acupuncture Shows Promise in
Improving Rates of Pregnancy Following IVF
(From the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)
A review of seven clinical trials of acupuncture given with embryo transfer in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) suggests that acupuncture may improve rates of pregnancy. An estimated 10 to 15 percent of couples experience reproductive difficulty and seek specialist fertility treatments, such as IVF. Identifying a complementary approach that can improve success would be welcome to patients and providers.
According to Eric Manheimer of the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Integrative Medicine and colleagues who conducted the systematic review, acupuncture has been used in China for centuries to regulate the female reproductive system. With this in mind, the reviewers analyzed results from seven clinical trials of acupuncture in women who underwent IVF to see if rates of pregnancy were improved with acupuncture. The studies encompassed data on over 1366 women and compared acupuncture, given within one day of embryo transfer, with sham acupuncture, or no additional treatment.
The reviewers found that acupuncture given as a complement to IVF increased the odds of achieving pregnancy. According to the researchers, the results indicate that 10 women undergoing IVF would need to be treated with acupuncture to bring about one additional pregnancy. The results, considered preliminary, point to a potential complementary treatment that may improve the success of IVF and the need to conduct additional clinical trials to confirm these findings.
- Manheimer E, Zhang G, Udoff L, et al. Effect of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal. Published online February 2008
Mimi Vassilev Baker, Certified Acupuncturist
Mimi Vassilev-Baker is a certified acupuncturist, licensed by the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners. She has been appointed by the Governor of New Jersey to be one of nine members of the State Acupuncture Examining Board.
For eight years, Mimi dedicated her education to the health sciences. As an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, she studied biology and nutrition. After experiencing the positive results of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, she enrolled as a graduate student at the Florida College of Integrative Medicine, where in 1999 she earned her Master of Oriental Medicine Degree and a second Bachelor Degree in Professional Health Studies.
In China, while interning at the Shandong University of Medicine, Mimi continued to witness the remarkable benefits of combining traditional Chinese medicine with 21st century women’s health care. She has chosen to specialize in women’s health issues, ranging from infertility to menopause. In 2003, she established an acupuncture treatment for infertility program at IVF New Jersey and the Princeton Day Spa in Princeton, New Jersey (www.princetondayspa.com).
For women who are dealing with infertility issues, acupuncture represents yet another hopeful option at IVF New Jersey.
Scheduling Acupuncture Treatment
IVF New Jersey-Somerset: Day of Transfer -seven days a week by appointment. Please try to notify Mimi Vassilev-Baker as soon as you are given an idea when your retrieval and transfer may be.
Princeton Day Spa: Initial and Follow up visits: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9-7 by appointment.
Download New Patient Forms at www.princetondayspa.com
Call: 609-937-9341 for more information or to schedule an appointment
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cost of Treatment
The initial visit is performed at the Princeton Day Spa and is approximately 1 1/2 hours in length. It includes a traditional Chinese medicine consultation and an acupuncture treatment. The cost is $120. The follow-up infertility treatments take up to one hour. The cost is $65 or $330 for a group of six sessions ($55/session). For the two acupuncture treatments on the day of the transfer at IVFNJ, the total cost is $245. Payment is expected at the time of your visit. It is recommended that you contact your insurance provider to verify whether acupuncture is covered under your policy. You will be given a bill that you can submit to your insurance provider. Personal checks and major credit cards are accepted.
Ms. Vassilev-Baker is an independent practitioner and payments are made directly to her. All treatments and products must be paid for at the time the services are rendered. Visa, MasterCard, and personal checks are welcomed. If requested, you will be provided with an invoice that can be submitted to your insurance provider.