Lianne Aquilina of Aquilia Acupuncture, Research Engagement Consultancy BSc Hons MSc Research gives expert interview for IVF Babble TV.
“I have spoken many times before about how I felt acupuncture made a huge difference to my final round of IVF. Not only did it make me feel like I was doing something positive for my body, but acupuncture also made me feel calm and rested – the two words I had not experienced on my IVF journey up to that point.” Sara IVF Babble Co-founder
But what exactly does Acupuncture do, and how can it support your IVF journey?
About Acupuncture and IVF
Colette Assor IVF Babble Acupuncture Leading Expert opens up a conversation with our Special Guest Acupuncturist Lianne Aquilina, leading researcher, and co-author of the textbook acupuncture and IVF.
Colette and Lianne talk about research, emotional health and wellbeing, and that subfertility is not just a medical condition, along with how to find a high-level qualified acupuncturist on an accredited register.
Acupuncture is classified by UNESCO (United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organisation) as a heritage of humanity, so we really do encourage you to watch this interesting and compelling discussion below.
- Improve blood flow to the reproductive organs
- Alleviate stress and anxiety
- Optimise endometrial lining
- Support positive IVF outcomes
- Decrease inflammation and pain
Acupuncture and IVF Research
The research on the topic of acupuncture for IVF is complex. Therefore, a research resource for healthcare professionals and researchers was produced.
Findings were that low risk of bias of systematic reviews showed that acupuncture had a treatment effect on women undergoing IVF/ICSI.
When acupuncture was used alongside IVF/ICSI there was an increased clinical pregnancy rate and birth rate. It is important to acknowledge that this research is not conclusive, and that research should now be designed in a particular type of way. In the research resource brief, there is an outline of detailed guidelines for researchers interested in developing research and conducting acupuncture for IVF research in the future.
Our critical appraisal of the research data found that the significant treatment effect was present at various time points.
Research found that acupuncture maybe a suitable treatment option for people undergoing IVF that are experiencing anxiety and stress.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture works on the brain. Neuro-scientific research has revealed that when you have acupuncture, a change occurs in the brain. This is shown on a MRI scanner to influence the sympathetic or the flight stressed out part of the nervous system promoting relaxation. We know that IVF can be a rollercoaster of emotions and stressful.
Emotional impact of subfertility
By the time a person starts IVF treatment they are highly likely maybe to be suffering from anxiety (to varying degrees), which is a normal response of coping with the fertility journey so far.
Subfertility and fertility treatment should not be classified as a medical condition only. It is a chronic illness. We are unable to have the normal ability to reproduce on our own, there is impairment. There are fluctuations and uncertain outcomes. There is also isolation, people may withdraw from social activities, it is a frustrating condition.
Acupuncture, a treatment option
Authorities should recognise that although the definition of subfertility is e.g., “failure to conceive after 1-2 years of regular unprotected sexual intercourse”, subfertility and fertility treatment is often an extremely unanticipated event, it is a disruptive event in people’s lives.
Acupuncture should be a treatment option for patients. A recent survey found that acupuncture was the most common used treatment sought out by individuals alongside IVF.
Acupuncture is a holistic therapy; it very much focuses on the mind and body together. Focusing on the emotions as well, which makes it a great therapy integrated with IVF.
Once we understand that patients do suffer, for example, 86% of subfertile women were found to be suffering from anxiety, 30% in the extreme form with obsessions – which is a natural, automatic way of our bodies trying to cope. 40% of women may experience depression. Supporting people in distress with a range of healthcare options is very important.
Finding an Acupuncturist
The British Acupuncture Council is the leading professional organisation for acupuncture in the UK.
Members of the British Acupuncture have a professional level accredited qualification at degree level. Members of the BAcC are bound by strict codes of safe, professional conduct and are on an accredited register.
Acupuncture is not by law regulated. Therefore, it is advised that the public seek an acupuncturist on an accredited register. The professional standards authority (PSA) oversees health and care occupations regulated and not regulated by law. The professional standards authority awarded the British Acupuncture Council the Quality Mark for Good Standards.
Aquilina, L and Bovey M – Acupuncture and IVF/ICSI: A review of systematic reviews and meta analyses. A research resource
Acupuncture comparable to counselling for the treatment management of depression moderate to severe