What Intended Parents Should Know About Acupuncture & Pregnancy
Perhaps you’ve read about acupuncture as a means to improve fertility, and are considering asking your surrogate to consent to this treatment. You wouldn’t be the first intended parent to have this request. From time to time, intended parents have asked our surrogates to consider acupuncture as part of their transfer procedure. While not incredibly common, there is some level of research that suggests a proper fertility acupuncturist may help increase the odds of a successful IVF cycle. Given all of the time, money, and hope invested in the transfer being successful, it’s not hard to imagine why you may want to learn more. Here’s what you need to know.
It doesn’t hurt.
The first concern your surrogate is likely to have is whether the needle insertion is painful. After the IVF injection protocol she’s just been through, this is a totally fair question. You likely wouldn’t want to expose your surrogate to undue needle pain, either. Know that, unlike your IVF needles, the needles used in acupuncture at hair-thin. The practitioner will likely only have about 10 needles in the surrogate
at any given time, not the 100+ typically seen on television comedies depicting acupuncture. Most women say that the pain of needle insertion is minimal, and once inserted, they become unaware of the needle at all.
In a fun twist of irony, those wishing to have acupuncture to help with IVF success are now pairing some of the world’s most ancient medicine with the very latest in fertility medicine. While the art of IVF is still relatively young, Eastern medicine has been using acupuncture for centuries. For even greater results, some will pair IVF and acupuncture with other Chinese herbal supplements.
Practitioners believe that acupuncture encourages the body to self-heal through increased circulation. Eastern medicine doctors believe that this leads the body to release a healthier egg at ovulation, and reduction in inflammation that could prevent that egg from implanting into the uterus and growing. Acupuncture also can improve hormone balance. Additionally, acupuncture is believed to help regulate stress. This is important as it serves two purposes. First, it will help balance progesterone in your surrogate’s system. Additionally, lower stress means lower cortisol levels, another factor believed to impact infertility.
More is More.
Most practitioners will tell you that when it comes to number of treatments, there is no such thing as overdoing it when it comes to acupuncture. Many will encourage sessions both pre and post embryo transfer. Some even encourage treatment clear through the 12th week of gestation to help improve the odds of achieving embryo viability long term.
There generally minimal risks associated with acupuncture therapy. When administered by a fertility specialist, these minimal risks decrease even more greatly. At worst, a surrogate can expect mild bruising at the insertion sites.
It’s not your choice.
In the end, you can only ask your surrogate to consent to acupuncture. Unless she agreed to it during your contract phase, she is not obligated to consent to this extra treatment and can elect to change her mind about having it at any time. If acupuncture matters to you, be sure to discuss it in your match meeting and contracting phase. If you have further questions, you can reach out to your case specialist for guidance.