IVF & IUI Support
If all else has failed and you have had to resort to more invasive procedures such as Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilization(IVF), because it is such a costly and invasive procedure you want the outcome to be as successful as possible. Naturopathic medicine can be used to prepare your body for these procedures and to ensure the best possible results.
How to Support IUI & IVF
Here are 3 tips your fertility clinic may not know to increase the chances that your IVF procedure will result in a healthy baby:
Acupuncture – There is plentiful evidence that acupuncture enhances the outcome of IVF treatments. The research suggests that it reduces the risk of miscarriage, may improve implantation and reduces the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Acupuncture is relatively painless, safe if done by a qualified naturopathic doctor and is often covered by extended health benefits/insurance. From a Chinese Medicine standpoint, acupuncture helps move the qi (pronounced chee) or energy to the various organs to improve their function. In this case, we are enhancing the function of the reproductive organs by stimulating them directly with the needles and also by stimulating your immune system to optimize the health of those organs. Fertility clinics often offer this as part of their IVF protocol. I recommend treatment once per week for 6 weeks leading up to an IVF cycle and once within 24 hours before and after the transfer. Acupuncture the day of the retrieval has not shown any additional benefit. I make myself available to patients as needed for the acupuncture before and after the embryo transfer since that treatment is time sensitive.
Diet – Proper diet can either enhance or hinder fertility efforts. Diet can influence the overall function of the ovaries and their response to the IVF drugs. Antioxidants like vitamin A, C, E, zinc, selenium, CoQ10 and alpha lipoic acid work together to prevent free radical damage and oxidation to protect DNA so that healthy DNA is being passed on in the egg. Antioxidants work in a sort of domino effect. That is, vitamin C may work on a free radical and then vitamin E will work on the product of that and so on down the line of antioxidants. Missing even one part of the chain can result in incomplete neutralization of a free radical, leaving harmful free radicals in circulation. CoQ10 helps the mitochondria which are the energy powerhouse of the cell to function properly and create energy for the cell. High glycemic index and high glycemic load foods will create a hormonal environment that is not conducive to healthy egg development. Folic acid is important to protect DNA from genetic mutations that can lead to problems like neural tube defects and cleft palate. Food sources of folic acid include dark green leafy vegetables however up to 60% of the population can’t convert folic acid from supplements or food sources to the active form of folic acid and so they fail to get the benefit of taking it and high amounts of circulating inactive folic acid have been found to have the opposite effect and can promote DNA mutations.
Stress reduction – In the patients I work with for fertility this is huge! The whole infertility process is inherently stressful as is IUI & IVF. Stress is one of the biggest fertility killers there is because of the whole cascade of blood sugar, stress hormone and reproductive hormone events that ensue. Stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, breathing exercise, tai chi, massage therapy, psychotherapy, adrenal gland support and acupuncture can help relieve stress and improve fertility outcomes.
I have been providing IUI & IVF support for women undergoing these procedures since 1999.