Latest Research on Acupuncture and IVF

By Shira Dobratz MSOM, Dipl.OM, L.Ac, FABORM

It’s very exciting to see that the success of Chinese Medicine is attracting more and more attention by advanced western research. A recent study published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (BMC Compl Alternative Med) challenged the effectiveness of Acupuncture to improve CPR (clinical pregnancy rates) and LBR (live birth rates) of women undergoing IVF. It detailed data from 27 different studies with 6,000 women undergoing IVF. Click here to read the article: (https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-019-2523-7). It was found that Acupuncture increases the success rates of both CPR and LBR for women undergoing repeat IVF cycles d/t a poor response (from either egg quality issues, endometrial receptivity, or unknown factors).Those success rates were even higher for women who underwent more than 2 treatments prior to the day of FET (frozen or fresh embryo transfer).

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) we treat issues of fertility by:

●  harmonizing the interrelationships and function of the internal organs 


●  clearing obstructions 


●  improving the qi (strength and smooth movement of the body’s internal energy) 


●  Improving the blood supply (both volume and proper circulation) within the uterus and surrounding

●  improving the health and quality of the eggs 


●  improving the receptivity and vital health of the endometrium.

We have many western medical studies that reveal Acupuncture’s ability to: 


●  stimulate ovulation by adjusting a woman’s endocrine function of the HPO (hypothalamic-pituitary- ovarian) axis 


●  improve egg quality, improve blood circulation to the uterus and ovaries by inhibiting uterine central sympathetic nerve activity 


●  improve the endometrial receptivity 


●  reduce infertility-related stress and depression by positively impacting changing the stress hormones serum cortisol and prolactin

Hopefully there will be more studies done, of this caliber, to continue investigating the relationship between Acupuncture and the varying parameters of the IVF population worldwide.

At ilumina Healing Sanctuary we are well aware of the benefits of Chinese Medicine for our fertility patients, particularly for those who’ve had poor response in the past. With whatever methods of family planning that are utilized, we rejoice as a clinic in the positive impact our medicine is making for our community and we love to see evidence that shows the world the same thing that what we are seeing in our clinic everyday.

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For more information about how Chinese Medicine may be suitable for you on your own journey with fertility, with any questions or to schedule first appointment please contact us at 602-957-2602.

Acupuncture and Transfer Day

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By Charlene Hagner M.Ac., Dipl. O.M., LaAc.

       Transfer Day can be full of many different emotions. Women can have a range of emotions from excitement, anxiousness, and even a range of both. Having a moment to breathe and experience some relaxation before and after the transfer is wonderful, and a small benefit compared to the biological benefits of acupuncture on the day of transfer. Acupuncture increases the blood flow to the uterus. Research has been done, by using a Doppler to detect blood flow before and after treatment, showing an improvement of blood flow to the uterus and ovaries after a treatment. Treatments given before and after transfer help to improve patients' response to IVF medications, and the chances of pregnancy.

A two year case study, involving our clinic and a top rated Fertility Clinic in the valley, showed a 10% increase of pregnancy rates when using Acupuncture day of transfer. ilumina Healing Sanctuary has continued a valued reputation with fertility doctors in the valley for two decades, and we support in making the process as easy and comfortable as possible.  All of our practitioners have extensive experience in IVF transfers and supporting with acupuncture in a clinical setting. 

It is important to contact us when you know the date of transfer to reserve the time for transfer day services. We meet with patients 45 minutes ahead of the frozen embryo transfer, so the Acupuncturist has plenty of time for the treatment and the patient stays an extra 30 minutes after the transfer to receive the second acupuncture session. 

Let us know how we can support you through your fertility journey. Call or email us with any questions. 

Transfer Day Acupuncture helps to increase chance of pregnancy by 10%

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Nearly 1.6% of all infants born in the United States every year are born using Assisted Reproductive Technology. Reproductive Endocrinologists are persistently looking for ways to increase couple’s success for pregnancy. Recently a two-year study was done in the Arizona Valley to determine the success of using acupuncture day of transfer. The total sample size was 396 patients with the minimum age of 23yo and the maximum age of 45yo, and an average age of 35yo. Those who did receive acupuncture before and after transfer improved their chances of pregnancy by 10%; compared to the group that didn’t receive acupuncture.

According to Manca di Villahermosa et al “failure of embryo implantation is considered the biggest challenge of reproductive medicine”.

IVF is a stressful process to the body and finding ways to relax and prepare the body for implantation are crucial. Acupuncture increases the blood flow to the uterus, increases endometrial-lining development, decreases spasms, and calms the patient. Many studies continually support the data that when ART is combined with Chinese Medicine the pregnancy rates are higher. Acupuncture not only improves the pregnancy rates, but also helps ease the anxiety of the patients.  Wherever you are in your fertility journey acupuncture will be helpful, if you are thinking about onsite acupuncture day of transfers, we will go to most doctors in the valley to offer our services.

By Charlene Hagner M.Ac., Dipl. OM. L.Ac.

 

Dana Price to Present at The Scottsdale Fertility Forum

The Scottsdale Fertility Forum will be presented on June 15, from 8 to 11 am. Dana Price DOM, L.Ac., FABORM will be presenting as part of a panel of experts in the field. Follow this link for more information and to purchase your tickets. Scottsdale Fertility Forum Event

This is a rare opportunity to join the Valley's top doctors at an exclusive forum specifically about Fertility.

Mayan Abdominal Massage and IUI/IVF

We are so fortunate to have a certified practitioner of Arvigo Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Massage TM. Audrey Blanchard, LMT has had extensive training in this specialized modality. This is an article recently published that http://alignmentmonkey.nurturance.net/2011/maya-abdominal-therapy-and-iui-ivf

Acupuncture and IVF

One question that often arises at ilumina is how often to get acupuncture when going through an IVF cycle. The answer is simple and complex. Here is my general recommendation if you are starting an IVF cycle and the goal is to promote ovarian response, optimize hormones, and increase the quantity and quality of the the uterine lining. Please note that if  pathological hyperstimulation/ OHSS occurs acupuncture is an excellent treatment and can often "save" the cycle.

  • Ovarian Suppression phase- (around 4-6 weeks before egg retrieval) Acupuncture 2x per week
  • Ovarian Stimulation phase- (around 2 weeks before egg retrieval) Acupuncture 2-3x per week
  • One treatment between egg retrieval and embryo transfer
  • Acupuncture 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after embryo transfer (this is performed at the REI office by an ilumina practitioner)
  • One treatment 3-5 days after embryo transfer
  • Then once a week afterwords, if pregnant acupuncture once a week through the first trimester

For advance maternal age, poor ovarian response, elevated FSH, poor embryo quality or male factor infertility I would recommend a much more extensive treatment plan for 3-6 months before IVF which would include: acupuncture, individualized Chinese herbal formulas, vitamins and supplements, diet and exercise and meditation. For more information on how and why Chinese medicine is so effective for IVF preparation please see the book Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month program for Maximum Fertility. If you are looking for an acupuncturist in your area to support your IVF cycle please see the website for the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine's website. This professional organization credentials acupuncturists in reproductive medicine.  If you are interested in the research that shows the efficacy and mechanism of action for acupuncture and IVF please see the comprehensive review  of research put together by my friend and colleague Diane Cridennda L.Ac.For over 10 years ilumina Healing Sanctuary's practitioners have been treating male and female infertility and attending IVF embryo transfers. We have experience and trusted relationships with all of the fertility clinics in the greater Phoenix area. We look forward to working with you on your journey to parenthood.Dana Price DOM, L.Ac., Dipl.OM, FABORMilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602

Lecture Series Aug 13: Mayan Abdominal Massage

Mayan Abdominal Massage is an external, non-invasive massage modality that specifically addresses the uterine position and other internal organs to support the optimal flow of blood, lymph, and chi throughout the body.Some common symptoms/conditions this type of massage can benefit include displaced or prolapsed uterus or bladder, infertility, endometriosis, ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids, as well as pelvic or abdominal pain from previous surgeries or scar tissue. Join us August 13, at 6:00 pm at ilumina to learn more about this modality and how it can be a benefit to you. Spaces will be limited so please call 602-957-2602 to reserve your spot.

We are very excited to have the lecture series back in action, we are currently putting together a schedule of topics that promise to be informative and promising.

Also heading your way is a Infant Massage Class taught by our amazing massage therapist Audrey Blanchard.

Alcohol and IVF: Do They Mix?

I recently read a very interesting article by Rossi et al. “Effect of Alcohol Consumption on In vitro Fertilization,” published in the prestigious journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in January 2011, volume 117, pages 136 to 142. The authors looked at more than 4,700 in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles in more than 2,500 couples. Couples were given questionnaires to fill out regarding their alcohol consumption at the time of the IVF cycle start, not during the IVF cycle or pregnancy. The primary outcome that the authors were interested in was the live birth rate after IVF. They found that for men or women undergoing IVF, drinking four or more drinks per week prior to an IVF cycle is associated with a 48 percent higher risk for failed fertilization and a 21 percent lower chance for a live birth.

On the one hand, it seems obvious that alcohol might have a negative impact upon fertility. However, as the authors point out, while there is an enormous amount of evidence published on the adverse effects of alcohol consumption upon the fetus during pregnancy, there is not much data on the effect of alcohol consumption upon fertility. In addition, they theorize that perhaps couples undergoing IVF are not expecting to conceive without assistance and therefore they may not limit alcohol consumption prior to an IVF cycle, thinking that they will stop once they start their fertility drugs.

In general, infertile couples in this study reported less drinking than the general population – 45 percent to 66 percent reported consuming any alcohol at all, while 62 percent to 74 percent of the general population reports that they are current drinkers.

After I read this article, I started paying more attention to whether or not my patients were drinking. We tell all of our female patients not to drink at all during the IVF cycle, but we do not really say anything about drinking prior to the IVF cycle. We do not pay much attention to the guys at all, unless the wife brings up a concern about too much alcohol. But how much is too much? Until this study, there really was not much data out there.

To my surprise a lot of women and men are consuming significant amounts of alcohol. They have some idea that maybe they are drinking too much, but without their doctor saying something very specific, they really did not think about it too much. I found that many men and women — men more so than women — were drinking four or more drinks per week. Although many of my patients enjoy having a drink, most responded very positively to the recommendation to cut back to fewer than four drinks per week. For my female patients, I also asked them to abstain completely after ovulation (usually around day 14 if you have 28-day cycles). Yes, even the guys were happy that there was something they could do to help with the baby-making plan!

So, bottom line — no alcohol at all during the IVF cycle — definitely for women, and not a bad idea for the guys. Before the IVF cycle, alcohol seems to be OK in moderation. And moderation — at least according to this recent, large study — seems to be less than four drinks per week.

 

Written By: Serena H. Chen, M.D., IRMS Reproductive Medicine at Saint Barnabas, October 16, 2011

www.fertilityauthority.com

Guys: Butt Out!

It’s not the first time we’ve advised men (and women) who want to become parents that they need to stop smoking immediately, and it won’t be the last. Now another new study adds to the already compelling body of damning evidence showing that smoking harms fertility. In this new study, researchers at the University of Saarland, in Germany, looked at specific proteins in the sperm of men who smoked, and compared them with the same proteins in non-smokers. These proteins, called protamines, are necessary for sperm development. The scientists found that, in smokers, the genetic material of these proteins can be damaged, making the sperm incapable of fertilizing an egg.Since men are constantly producing new sperm, they can produce sperm without protamine problems several months after they quit. In fact, for couples who are considering IVF (in vitro fertilization), the German scientists recommend that men stop smoking for at least three months before attempting a cycle.By: Beth @ Concieve

ilumina Upcoming Events for November

ilumina Healing Sanctuary is honored to offer these amazing free events that you do not want to miss.  To register please call ilumina Healing Sanctuary at (602) 957-2602.Women’s Circle led by Marion Light M.Ed.6:00pm-7:00pm1st Monday of the Month (November 1st)For women looking to connect with other women in an environment that encourages inner growth and healing.  This meeting encompasses setting the space, clearing negative or stagnant energies, a guided meditation and sharing.  In our society, many women have become overstressed and overburdened with family, work and their own high expectations of themselves.  The age-old tradition of sitting in a circle and sharing has been replaced by hectic, isolated lives that lead to distraction from our deeper selves.  These groups allow a space for community, inner discovery and healing.  This renewed energy then goes forward with each woman and touches al those they encounter.Couples Communication with Marion Light6:00pm-7:00pmMonday, November 8thA large percentage of communication is non-verbal. Most problems in a relationship are caused by an inability to speak the truth to each other about what we feel and what we really need from each other. Come and learn how to communicate and listen with compassion. Spend a evening with Marion Light, Emotional Wellness Therapist and Polarity Practitioner to explore the effects of this process in your relationship.Fertility Circle led by Marion Light M.Ed.6:00pm-7:00pm3rd Monday of the Month (November 15th)For women on the journey to motherhood who are seeking connection with other women on the same path. This circle includes guided visualizations and will remain small to ensure personal attention.

Fertility Healing Circle: Monday, June 15th

Women in Bloom is honored to offer a healing circle at ilumina Healing Sanctuary for women on their road to motherhood. Our intention is to create a safe and nurturing environment for women to receive comfort and support in their journeys. Something magical happens when our stories are witnessed in a neutral, loving and supportive environment. This enables us to listen and hear our own wisdom and to share that wisdom with others on the path of good health and emotional healing. This women's circle will include guided visualizations and will remain small to ensure personal attention.For more information or to sign up for the Fertility Healing Circle please call ilumina Healing Sanctuary at (602)957-2602.Monday, June 15th6:00pm to 7:00pmilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602

Forgiveness Is an Act of Self-love

Ghandi wrote, “Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first sign of self-giving love.” True healing occurs when we have the courage to be present with all aspects of ourselves and move through the processes required to return to wholeness. In working with a diverse array of clients, I have found that often the most difficult step of the healing process is forgiveness. As difficult as it may be, forgiveness is necessary to free oneself from the painful emotions that have bound our lives and stifled our Spirit. Of course, once we let go and forgive, we become fully responsible for our own feelings and behaviors and can no longer make excuses or stay stuck in our patterns or stagnation. That can be daunting, so it is understandable that some people resist forgiveness and choose to remain comfortably stuck, but in doing so we limit ourselves, and our lives do not open fully to their potential.Many people hang onto anger and blame out of a misplaced sense of justice. A common misperception is that forgiving someone means accepting their behavior, or letting them off the hook. This is simply not so. We can forgive and also choose not to allow people into our lives who hurt or betray us. We can, if we wish, offer the kind of forgiveness that might free the person we are angry at, but the greatest impact is within. Forgiveness frees us from the low vibrational energies of anger, blame and resentment and allows our heart to open to a more joyful and expansive life.Carrying anger, hate or resentment in your heart will weigh heavily on your life, preventing you from truly healing and moving forward. When you have been hurt or betrayed, there is a process you can turn to in order to release the experience and find alignment with yourself again. The key steps are firstly, AWARENESS of what needs healing or what is holding you back. The second step is to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the feelings that were triggered by the experience without blaming yourself or others. Next, it is essential to find TRUST in a deeper part of yourself, and know that you are more than your pain. Acknowledge the perfection of every experience and what it has brought to your life. It may be hard to imagine a painful experience as a ‘perfect’ experience, but this simply means that the experience ‘is what it is’ in the fabric of your life, and every experience is full of potential. It becomes ‘what you make it’ and that will shape the tapestry of your future. Seeing the greater picture of your being and your life will allow you to FORGIVE AND LET GO. The final step is to experience a RENEWAL or REMEMBERING of who you really are. In this state, all the energy you have bound up in anger, resentment and pain becomes available to you again in a pure and positive way, resulting in increased joy, vitality and enthusiasm. You find yourself more present in your life and trusting that your inner self can not only handle the experiences of life, but can appreciate them –all of them, for the great gifts they are. This is not an intellectual exercise, but an opening of your heart. It is a gift you give to yourself and your world.Love and Light,Marionwww.marionlight.comwww.womeninbloom.orgilumina Healing Sanctuary, located in Scottsdale, is a unique clinic that combines acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine, emotional wellness, general and fertility massage, and whole food nutrition. We are the only clinic in Arizona with board certified practitioners of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Our highly trained and experiences specialists provide therapies that support the body, mind and spirit through all phases of a women’s life.ilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602

Upcoming Events

Please register early for these special events early as space is limited. (ilumina Healing Sanctuary: 602-957-2602) Unless listed, all special events are complimentary but donations are accepted and will take place at ilumina Healing Sanctuary. All donations received will be used to fund microloans for women starting businesses in developing countries through Kiva www.kiva.org.

Monday, June 8th 6:00pm-7:00pmIntroduction to Polarity Therapy with Marion Light

All living things are intricate arrangements of energy. Your physical body, thoughts, and feelings are all patterns of energy. When your energy fields are aligned in smooth-patterned states, their natural expression is health and happiness. However, when the patterns of your energy fields become chaotic or distorted by stressful life experiences, it can have a negative impact on your well-being. Polarity therapy works to restore the intregity and flow of your energy patterns using touch, toning, breathing and communication techniques. A comprehensive system of Eastern and Western modalities, polarity therapyworks to bring your energy field back into thier natural state of alignment.

Come for an evening with Marion Light and learn about the value of having a balanced energy system and how to connect to your own energy and imbalances. You will learn how to listen to your own body's messages and where you might be blocked in your life, on the physical, mental/emotional, financial or spiritual levels.

About Marion Light

www.marionlight.com

Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Marion Light has lived in the United States for 20 years. She has three adult children, a son, Roscoe and twin daughters, Kelsey and Megan.

As a young adult, Marion was a top athlete, selected to play for the national field hockey team. She earned her bachelors degree, with English and Physical Education as a double Major, and received her teaching credentials in South Africa, where she worked as an educator for five years. After moving to the United States, Marion taught physically and mentally challenged children for five years in Los Angeles while earning a Masters Degree in Education at Cal State.

It was after moving to Phoenix that Marion's own health issues compelled her to explore holistic healthcare and alternative therapies. She was drawn to pursue a life in the healing arts, and from that time on, she has felt her life has been divinely guided. She began to follow her intuition and studied energy medicine, including Master level training in polarity, cranial sacral and massage. She also began teaching classes in cranial sacral unwinding, polarity therapy and communications.

Marion feels her practice is the fulfilling of her life's purpose. For over 10 years, she has successfully helped men, women and children find deep relief from depression and anxiety, physical pain, illness, infertility, grief, childhood and sexual abuse, attention deficit disorder and many other issues. She is honored to guide individuals on a journey of self discovery, helping them achieve a greater state of well-being.

ilumina Healing Sanctuary, located in Scottsdale, is a unique clinic that combines acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine, emotional wellness, general and fertility massage, and whole food nutrition. We are the only clinic in Arizona with board certified practitioners of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Our highly trained and experiences specialists provide therapies that support the body, mind and spirit through all phases of a women’s life.ilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602

Acupuncture for Infertility on Fox News!

Acupuncture: A Cure for Infertility?Tuesday , April 26, 2005By Catherine Donaldson-EvansNEW YORK —At 36, Lucy Appert has suffered through two miscarriages, a stillbirth at 8 1/2 months and, because of a rare pregnancy-related liver dysfunction, intensive illness and surgery.Yet after enduring five painful years of trying to have their own baby, Appert and her husband Edward finally saw their dream come true last month when their son Henry was born — premature, but healthy.For all the fertility treatments, technologies and prenatal care available to women today, Appert credits the success of her pregnancy to an ancient Chinese secret."I recommend acupuncture (search) to everyone," Appert said. "It does work. I did everything possible for years to have a baby. I almost lost hope."The millennias-old Asian medical practice — in which the acupuncturist places tiny needles in various pressure points, or "Qi" (Chee), in the body to improve circulation and reduce stress — has been around in the United States for years as an "alternative" treatment for numerous ailments.But recently, acupuncture has been picking up steam as a possible remedy for female infertility, with a handful of American and European studies showing that it enhances the success rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF) (search).“Do I believe in it? Absolutely,” said Dr. Paul C. Magarelli, an infertility doctor at the Reproductive Medicine & Fertility Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and co-author of an ongoing study into the use of acupuncture with IVF with Dr. Diane K. Cridennda. Cridennda is a licensed acupuncturist with a master's degree in Oriental medicine from the International Institute of Chinese Medicine (search) who owns East Winds Acupuncture, also in Colorado Springs.Magarelli said he joined the study at the urging of Cridennda, who had approached him about using acupuncture with IVF based on her knowledge of its history as an Eastern fertility treatment. A skeptic at first, Magarelli said he dismissed the idea for a while before signing on."I thought, this is rubbish — it can't be true," Magarelli said. "But no matter how I look at this data, I see an improvement. ... I'm pretty much a convert."In general, studies seem to indicate that doing acupuncture about 30 minutes before and after in vitro fertilization can increase the chance that the embryo will be implanted successfully and reduce the chance of miscarriage.There are also indications that the effectiveness of the IVF drugs and procedure may improve if acupuncture is done about once a week in the month or two leading up to the start of IVF and then continued regularly — once or twice a week — during the whole cycle.And, as in Appert's case, there is anecdotal evidence that acupuncture can help with other fertility and pregnancy problems. Appert didn't need IVF to conceive, but she was told she probably couldn't carry a healthy baby to term because of her liver disorder.But some doctors caution that there is no "magic pill" for fertility, pregnancy and IVF troubles — whether it's acupuncture or something else."The jury is still out on that," said Dr. Eric Surrey, president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) (search), who has a practice at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. "I don't think we have good data to show that acupuncture before and after the embryo transfer is truly beneficial."And they warn against making too much of claims that acupuncture can help with having babies."It's impossible to say at this point," said Dr. Robert Schenken, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) (search), who has a practice at the University of Texas Health Science Center. "In the absence of any controlled data, I don't think we can come to a firm conclusion."Promising ResearchAcupuncture seems to help some women because it improves circulation to the ovaries (search) — which makes for healthier eggs — and to the uterus (search), which increases the chances that the lining will be strong enough to hold those eggs to full-term."Acupuncture provides better circulation and better blood flow to the womb," said Dr. Raymond Chang, director of New York's Meridian Medical Group, who has been incorporating acupuncture into fertility treatments for the past decade. "It will give a better chance for the eggs to be nourished and therefore carried."There's also the fact that acupuncture can be a stress-reliever during an emotional time."Trying to get pregnant is incredibly stressful," said Victoria Koos, the acupuncturist who treated Appert at Yin and Tonic Acupuncture in New York. "They're crossing their fingers. The longer they're trying to get pregnant, the worse it gets ... Part of [acupuncture's success] is simply relaxation. When the body is relaxed, all systems function better."The Colorado study Magarelli and Cridennda presented at a conference this fall is one of a series the pair have done with acupuncture and in vitro.That one looked at 114 patients who had a good chance of IVF being effective, some who did acupuncture and some who didn’t. It found, among other things, that there were fewer miscarriages, more pregnancies and a 7 percent higher birth rate among those who got acupuncture treatment over those who didn’t, according to Magarelli.It piggybacked off other research the team did on 147 “poor responders” to IVF, which found that the pregnancy rate was 40 percent, with 11 percent more babies born, among those who did acupuncture with in vitro fertilization compared to those who didn’t.In March, Magarelli and Cridennda released findings in Italy involving patients with an average prognosis for IVF success. Those yielded clear numbers that the pregnancy rate increased with acupuncture by 24 percent, according to Magarelli.“What got us was that now we were seeing a firm trend toward getting more people pregnant,” he said.The Colorado research seems to support some findings of two earlier studies, one in Germany by lead researcher Dr. Wolfgang E. Paulus — published in ASRM's “Fertility and Sterility” (search) in April 2002 — and one in Sweden by lead researcher Elisabet Stener-Victorin in the 1990s.Of course, even those who believe in acupuncture concede that while the existing studies have yielded good information, there still isn't sufficient evidence, or a broad enough sample of patients tested, to call acupuncture a proven remedy."We are convinced, but scientifically you need proof — or so-called proof," Chang said. "There is a whole set of proof from lab experiments and animal studies to human studies, but it's very difficult to do human studies."Schenken noted that even though there might be one set of data showing positive results, "it really needs to be corroborated, preferably with several different studies and different patient populations." For example, there can be bias when the entire study sample comes from the same clinic, or when patients know they're doing something different from usual.Schenken said he doesn't get asked about acupuncture often, but when patients do, "we don't recommend it, but we do not discourage it."Surrey takes a similar approach. In his opinion, the data "is not bad" on the theory that acupuncture can help when administered before IVF, but as far as acupuncture generally improving fertility or helping after the embryo transfer in IVF, "there really isn't a whole lot of data on that."But at the very least, "there is absolutely nothing to show that it's harmful if it's done with a trained and appropriately skilled acupuncturist," he said. It's a notion that nearly everyone in the medical field — whether they believe in needles and Qi or not — seems to agree upon.Some Eastern medicine-Western medicine rivalry may come into play with how to treat reproductive problems, but Chang said he sees more resistance with the use of Chinese herbs — which are ingested — than he does with acupuncture. Often, it's the in vitro specialists themselves who refer their patients to him for acupuncture after a couple of failed IVF attempts.As for the couples trying to bring a child into the world — particularly through a complicated, invasive procedure like IVF— anything that helps the process along is welcome.“IVF is so technical that patients feel like they’re being pushed and pulled … with acupuncture, they’re in a sense taking some control,” Magarelli said. "Acupuncture isn't a needle, it's an environment."Added Koos: "They're on these incredibly strong drugs that make the poor women crazy. They're running around like Catwoman. This is to help them stay sane while they're going through the process."The emotional cost of infertility comes with a hefty financial price tag as well — in vitro fertilization can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 a cycle and generally isn't covered by insurance; acupuncture ranges from about $30 to over $200 per treatment — Koos and Chang charge about $90 a pop — and certain health plans do cover at least a portion of it.Meanwhile, researchers and experts in the field are excited at what they're seeing in the studies. Chang said he's currently working with NYU Medical Center on a trial that looks at IVF with and without acupuncture.Appert, for her part, was at the end of her rope and felt she had nothing to lose. She started acupuncture with Koos about two months before she began trying to conceive — with needles in her toes and a couple of liver points — and continued with the treatments throughout the pregnancy."The first time I went, I was completely terrified. My husband went with me and held my hand," she said. "I could feel the muscles in my liver jump and an electric current going through my body. It was very strange but also felt right."She said being monitored by both her obstetrician and Koos helped reassure her about what was going on during her high-risk pregnancy."She would tell me things about how I was doing physically and then I would go to the doctor and he would tell me the same thing," remembers Appert, who works as a professor.When she got sick late in the pregnancy, both Koos and Appert's OB/GYN were able to detect when her liver went dangerously haywire and get her to the hospital for delivery six weeks early, before the problem harmed the fetus and caused another stillbirth.Regardless of the skeptics, Appert said she's relieved that she was finally able to have a nearly full-term baby of her own. At 4 pounds, 6 ounces, Henry has been in intensive care but otherwise is doing "fine.""It really was a miracle," the new mom gushed. "It's one of these weird things that Western medicine can't explain."ilumina Healing Sanctuary, located in Scottsdale, is a unique clinic that combines acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine, emotional wellness, general and fertility massage, and whole food nutrition. We are the only clinic in Arizona with board certified practitioners of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Our highly trained and experiences specialists provide therapies that support the body, mind and spirit through all phases of a women's life. ilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602