My CCRM IVF Journey

Our successful journey through IVF #2 at one of the world's top fertility clinics

To Acu or Not to Acu

Posted by auntiem10 on October 27, 2010

I’ve been debating whether to go through some acupuncture while preparing for our frozen embryo transfer. I’ve never had a single acupuncture session, but I’m planning to add sessions immediately before and after our ET at CCRM. I would like to attend at least one acupuncture session locally so that I will know what to expect at CCRM in January.

At our ODWU, the doppler indicated that blood flow to my uterus was perfect. CCRM didn’t say anything to us about including acupuncture in our protocol, but I assume the REs think it’s helpful since they allow a third-party company to provide acupuncture services immediately preceding and following the embryo transfer. Therefore, I’m considering it to improve our odds for success.

I was thinking about starting acupuncture around the same time that I will start preparing for our FET (December 10th), which would mean about six weeks of acupuncture. I contacted a local well-known infertility acupuncturist for information about pricing, only to find out that she is on sabbatical through the fall and winter. I’m going to continue researching to see if there is another recommended acupuncturist in my area.

My husband’s opinion differs greatly from mine on this topic. He feels it’s a crock and a waste of money, while I feel that we should do anything possible to enhance our chances for success. I need you, my wonderful online friends, to help me decide whether acupuncture will be worth the time and extra expense.

So my questions to you are: How much money should I expect to spend per session? For how many weeks should I consider seeing an acupuncturist? Does the acupuncturist need to specialize in infertility (thanks Pie :)), or will a general acupuncturist know what to do? Do you think it helped you manage your stress leading up to the FET? How many sessions per week did you attend?

I would love to hear from you! Please comment or email me at ccrmjourney@hotmail.com.

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11 Responses to “To Acu or Not to Acu”

  1. Mo said

    How much money should I expect to spend per session? In Manhattan, I paid $100 per session (which was usually about an hour) with an acupuncturist who specializes in infertility. My acupuncturist makes house calls for $115 per session. I bet it’s significantly less elsewhere.

    For how many weeks should I consider seeing an acupuncturist? I think your plan sounds good – around when you start prepping – 4-6 weeks.

    Does the acupuncturist need to specialize in acupuncture, or will a general acupuncturist know what to do? I’d say someone who specializes in infertility is preferable, in my opinion.

    Do you think it helped you manage your stress leading up to the FET? Definite YES. I was not sold on the actual health benefits of it, but I found the sessions incredibly relaxing. Really miss it, actually.

    How many sessions per week did you attend? 2x/week (but I was going for reduced uterine blood flow)

  2. A.E. said

    M – I went to Mary Zhang at the Chinese Medicine Clinic on Wornall and 95th. Each session was $80 and I went for three months. I would recommend her practice – I hope she’s not the one you spoke who is on sabbatical. While I will never know for sure how she affected the quality of my eggs and can tell you this as a FACT… many times I left her office feeling like my period was about to start. In other words, she really increased the blood flow to my uterus and, I think, greatly improved my lining. Another thing Mary pushes is herbs and, of course, Brabec got all over me for that. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Knowing that it couldn’t hurt anything, my mental state left me needing to leave no stone unturned and therefore driving to acupuncture in KC twice a week. Best of luck making your decision. And remember this, if acupuncture and the money it costs causes more stress then it’s causing the exact opposite of what you are looking for. : ) I had to remind myself of this a few times. M and I often talk about what we really think made the difference in our second cycle and I always say #1. Acupuncture and #2. Menopur.

  3. Mo said

    oops – sent that off faster than I meant to.

    hope it helps – feel free to ask any other questions!

    Mo

  4. Callie said

    I am a huge advocate for acupuncture, although I can’t speak to how well they work for FET’s. My first 3 IVF cycles were dismal failures (4 if you count the cancelled cycle). Finally, I decided to go all-in and did twice a week sessions for 4 weeks leading up to the retrieval and sessions right before and after the transfer. I am currently watching my 8 month old on our video monitor trying to scale his crib bars.

    I’m in a large Midwestern city, and my sessions were $80. If you can find it, I would definitely recommend someone familiar with infertility protocols. The place I go to is largely focused on fertility matters, and I find that they are extremely knowledgeable about the process. When I’m stimming, they typically ask how my ultrasounds are going and will adjust treatments accordingly.

    I’m jumping back into the fray and starting another cycle this Friday. Due to moderate OHSS during the successful cycle, we’re splitting up retrieval and transfer. I definitely plan to do it leading up to the FET, which we will do early next year (assuming we have something to transfer, which isn’t always a safe assumption…but that’s were the acupuncture hopefully comes in!)

    I wish you all the best with your transfer.

  5. I could argue both ways on acupuncture. But here is where I stand with it. Like you, I didnt have any blood flow issues from the ODWU. I have tried acupunture before. I am not sure I completely believe that it affects the lining etc. But I do not that there are a number of studies out highlighting the benefits of acu during ET. I followed the exact plan that you laid out — started acu along with my FET. Went for 2x a week. The cost locally was $80 per session and $225 for the pre and post transfer sessions. I found an acu that specializes in infertility. I wanted to pull out all the stops for this cycle and didnt want to leave any stone unturned and hence decided to add acu to the regimen. What it definitely helped me with is relaxation. OH MY! I was no doubt calm, relaxed, and in a bliss state after a treatment. So I figured atleast it is helping me manage my stress that way. Oh… and another reason I started the acu sessions is because I wanted my body to be ready for the treatments on transfer day. I am really comfortable with needles (I know its an oxymoron after going to 6 IVFs!) and I wanted to be comfortable with all the points that I can expect needles in on that day. Most of the points are pretty straightforward expect for the ear points. There are 2 points on each ear both before and after. Those were the ones that I was a little anxious about. But it all went smoothly. Oh and since I was a nervous wreck coming into the transfer (not knowing how the embies have thawed and such), the pre transfer acu session was just what I needed to calm me down.

    Hope this helps. If you have any questions, do email me or leave me a comment.

  6. LisainSK said

    I am a HUGE believer and supporter of acupuncture. I have been going since late August and thus that equates to two months prior. Your body needs time, ideally two months, to fully get the effects of acupuncture. I believe it has reduced stress and most importantly really has reduced side affects from all the meds – I had two rough days since taking a total of 9 medications so yeah…big believer. Plus my old RE swears by it and my CCRM nurse said they support acupuncture before transfer. I’ve heard of studies that it improves chances as well (most notably one done in Germany recently). I went twice a week at $46.25 CDN per session in my wee little city in the province of Saskatchewan. So my vote is to do acupuncture and to start now for a January transfer.

  7. Pie said

    I was in the same boat as you – doppler showed good blood flow, and CCRM did not specifically recommend acu for me. However, I had done acu during my 2nd IVF (local clinic) and had a much better stim response than the first, non-acu IVF, so i felt like it seemed to help during stims. It certainly helped with feeling bloated/yucky from stims. I did acu for my 4th IVF (best response yet!) and did it for FET prep too. I also did the pre/post transfer acu that CCRM offers. For me, it is a combo of believing in the benefits of improved blood flow to the uterus, which I think helps get the hormones to do their job better and build a pretty lining, and the relaxation of it. I find acu VERY relaxing, and would pay money just to have that benefit alone!

    How much money should I expect to spend per session? In my large Midwest city, it was $75-85 per session.

    For how many weeks should I consider seeing an acupuncturist? For FET prep, I saw her about 6-8 weeks prior to transfer.

    Does the acupuncturist need to specialize in acupuncture, or will a general acupuncturist know what to do? Do you mean specialize in infertility? I think it does matter, as there are specific protocols for FET prep. So yes, specialzed in IF is a good thing.

    Do you think it helped you manage your stress leading up to the FET? YES!! Like I said above, I find acu very relaxing, and I really looked forward to sessions. I thing it was very helpful in keeping me relaxed.

    Also, FYI – CCRM is very firm that after the transfer, no more acu. My acu disagreed with that, even tried to set up a call with Dr. Sch to discuss, but he is firm about this. So while I missed acu, I did give it up after transfer.

    How many sessions per week did you attend? 1 in the first few weeks, 2 as it got closer to transfer time.

  8. Kim said

    How much money should I expect to spend per session?
    Your initial consult will likely be longer than most sessions, as they do a pretty extensive review of your body and medical history. Be prepared for random questions about stool and period blood color/consistency. I just like to give that warning b/c I would have liked to know that was coming, LOL. The good news is that I’m not shy about ANYthing with Erika.

    But back to the question at hand: your initial consult will likely cost more. I also go in Manhattan, but I paid $95 for the initial and $70/treatment (though with me going pretty much all year, she volunteered for me to pay $50/session if it meant I’d keep up the consistency). Sold.

    For how many weeks should I consider seeing an acupuncturist?

    I’d go a week or two before you get into the medication for the FET so you can have a bit of a baseline appt and treatment before you add in all the med madness.

    Does the acupuncturist need to specialize in infertility (thanks Pie 🙂 ), or will a general acupuncturist know what to do?
    If you can get an infertility specialist, go for it. If you can’t, I still think you’ll be okay. Did you ask the one going on sabbatical if she could recommend anyone? Maybe when you call around, ask their level of comfort or experience with treating fertility patients.

    Do you think it helped you manage your stress leading up to the FET? How many sessions per week did you attend?

    I haven’t had a FET, but I did it for a good majority of our treatments, as well as awhile back when I went off bcp (for endo) and my period went on vacation for 6 months. Acupuncture is what got it back b/c I refused Provera.

    The IVF that took is the one that I was able to get a treatment before and after transfer. I’m not saying that it was the magical factor by any means, simply stating that as fact.

    Have you ever taken a yoga class? The really blissed out and relaxed feeling you have after the class is over is very similar to how I feel after an acupuncture treatment. Even if it does nothing to help the cycle (which I don’t think is likely), having that one hour or so where you do something for your body that makes you and it feel good while giving you some solitude, peace, and calm, I think, is a definite good thing.

  9. Kim said

    Forgot: I went only once a week, aside from transfer day. I also went after transfer (and all IUIs) and was treated as though it was assumed I was pregnant until beta proved otherwise. She treated me to support the pregnancy through the end of the first tri, and after that, she started treating the symptoms I was having from the resultant pregnancy.

    (Pregnancy treatment has needles just on your head, whereas other treatments will include the whole body.)

  10. Patience said

    I did the pre and post accu for FET #1. I didn’t do it for FET #2 as I didn’t really feel that it “worked” for me. We got our BFP on FET#2 (but didn’t stay that way)

    I did do regular accu years ago, and did find that relaxing. Did it help me? I can’t say it did, as the only BFP we ever had was without accu…

  11. Meg said

    Acupuncture is extremely relaxing. I found my mind much clearer and my heart calmer. I was going for fertility reasons and restless sleep. My sleep patterns have been considerably improved ever since. As far as with IVF: since we will be doing it in a couple of mths I will definitely be starting back up acupuncture even though my uterine blood flow is fine.

    Cost: look for a place that will give you a package discount. Even if it doesn’t outright say it, ask if they have one. You can usually save anywhere from 10-30% by buying a package of 10 or more sessions. A lot of places also have a special for new patients to do their initial visit/consult. My first session was totally free, no strings attached.

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