March 17, 2010

Embryo Transfer And Pregnancy – Acupuncture

Posted in Category : Women's Health

Embryo Transfer Technique

Embryo transfer is one of the steps in the assisted reproductive technique in-vitro fertilization. In this step of the procedure, an embryo is placed inside the female uterus in order to assist or create a pregnancy. Sometimes, several embryos are transferred or placed in the uterus and they may result in multiple pregnancies. These embryos are either taken ‘fresh’ from egg cells that have been fertilized in the same menstrual cycle or they are preserved through freezing techniques if they are from an earlier cycle. Before transferring the embryo, the uterus needs to be prepared so that its environment is conducive for the embryo implant. The woman is thus sometimes given progesterone and estrogen to allow for the lining of the uterus to become receptive. Several studies have been conducted to survey the positive effects of acupuncture treatment in embryo transfer. Studies have been conducted with subjects who receive acupuncture treatment before and after embryo transfer to determine if it increases the chances of pregnancy.

Acupuncture and Pregnancy

In some studies, women were given acupuncture treatment in addition to hormone therapy to increase the chances of pregnancy. The acupuncture treatment involved insertion of needles at those points in the body that contribute to a successful pregnancy. In some cases, in addition to inserting needles at various points in the body, acupuncture was carried out in the ears of patients. The colon, spleen and stomach are chosen as important acupuncture points as it enhances blood flow to the uterus and strengthens it. And acupuncture in the ears of patients helped sedate them and is believed to have helped bring stability to the endocrine system. Ultrasound scans that were performed on patients participating in the study, six weeks from the date of embryo transfer and acupuncture treatment indicated a favorable result. The patients who received acupuncture in the study showed a higher rate of pregnancy. Acupuncture as a method to help relax a patient receiving embryo transfer during in-vitro fertilization is still being researched and debated. However, it has been observed that during embryo transfer, the uterus may undergo contractions that adversely affect the chances of pregnancy. In such a case, acupuncture is an effective method of relaxing the patient to increase her chances of conceiving.

In some cases, acupuncture treatment has resulted in an increase in the production of hormones-something that is essential precondition for the embryo to implant. Electro-acupuncture, it has been observed, helps to increase the supply of blood to arteries in the uterus. None of these studies however, provide conclusive evidence to prove that acupuncture directly influences the success rate of embryo transfer. While it is effective as a relaxation technique (also contradicted by other studies), prior to or after embryo transfer, it is essential to seek proper medical advice before making a decision.