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Acupuncture Use on Rise by IVF Mums


Author: PAGE, Emma

Abstract: Mary Birdsall from Fertility Associates in Auckland said five of eight randomised controlled studies on acupuncture and IVF had shown a benefit if it was performed at the time the embryo was transferred.

Full text: INCREASING NUMBERS of women are using acupuncture alongside IVF treatments to boost their chances of having a baby.

Fertility experts say research backs acupuncture – especially around the time the embryo is transferred – and that patient demand for the treatment is up.

Auckland fertility clinics Repromed and Fertility Associates provide places for women to receive acupuncture and will work with patients who request it. Fertility Associates in Wellington has an on-site acupuncturist. Repromed medical director Guy Gudex said his clinic was responding to growing patient interest in complementary treatments. He estimated around a quarter of his patients used treatments such as osteopathy, naturopathy and acupuncture, and the clinic wanted people to have the best of both worlds. “What patients want is an increasingly holistic approach to things.”

Interest is so high, the clinic will next month start free seminars on a holistic approach to fertility, including sessions about acupuncture.

There is robust evidence to support using acupuncture alongside IVF treatments. Mary Birdsall from Fertility Associates in Auckland said five of eight randomised controlled studies on acupuncture and IVF had shown a benefit if it was performed at the time the embryo was transferred. Around 70% of the patients at her clinic used some form of alternative medicine and around 10% used acupuncture when an embryo was transferred. That number was increasing. “We like acupuncture. We think that it may have merit.”

Tauranga mother Nicola Forster started using acupuncture and other natural therapies after discovering she was having trouble conceiving. For her first pregnancy she received acupuncture in the lead-up and after IVF treatments. “A big part of it is the relaxation and the mindset. I think everyone would agree that the less stressed you are, the more chance you’ve got of better results.”

The 38-year-old is now 18 weeks pregnant with her second child and believes acupuncture half an hour before and after her embryos were transferred helped her chances of conceiving. Acupuncture was used during two transfers and she fell pregnant the second time. “I definitely felt that was incredibly therapeutic and I do believe that helped.”

She was happy that her fertility clinic Repromed facilitated the treatments. “I just felt really pleased that they were so open to encouraging it. It’s something that can help and certainly isn’t going to be detrimental.” Auckland-based acupuncturist and Chinese-trained medical doctor Vitalis Skiauteris specialises in acupuncture to help treat infertility and has worked alongside fertility clinics for seven years.

He said acupuncture could help treat infertility by regulating hormones and restoring a normal menstrual cycle. It could also help regulate levels of stress hormones in the lead-up to IVF treaments as well as helping at the time embryos were transferred. It could also help improve male fertility.

He believes acupuncture is becoming more mainstream. “The results are here, the research is here. Doctors used to be reluctant to recommend acupuncture to patients because of lack of scientific support or it may have been seen as exercising poor judgement – but those times are over.”

Advocacy group Fertility New Zealand also noticed “huge interest from members” in acupuncture. Alternative medicine was one of the topics at its national conference last month.


* Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of medicine which involves inserting fine needles into specific sites on the body.

* In recent decades, acupuncture has been widely adopted in the West and is now used by both traditional practitioners and western- trained professionals, including physiotherapists and GPs. It is used especially for treatment of pain and musculoskeletal problems. Claims are also made for its effectiveness for complaints such as anxiety, hiccups and anorexia.

* Some scientific studies have found acupuncture to be effective, but other studies appear to show that the effectiveness of the treatment is no better than a placebo effect.

* Modern stainless steel needles are significantly thinner than hypodermic needles and are usually disposable.

Credit: PAGE Emma

Subject: Alternative medicine; Reproductive technologies; Stress; Patients; Osteopathic medicine; Embryos;
Product name: Acupuncture
Publication title: Sunday Star – Times
First page: A.7
Publication year: 2009
Publication date: Jul 5, 2009
Year: 2009
Section: NEWS
Publisher: Fairfax Media : Fairfax New Zealand Limited
Place of publication: Wellington, New Zealand
Country of publication: New Zealand
Publication subject: General Interest Periodicals–New Zealand
Source type: Newspapers
Language of publication: English
Document type: NATIONAL
ProQuest document ID: 314123770
Document URL: http://search.proquest.com/docview/314123770?accountid=13552
Copyright: Fairfax Sunday Newspapers, Copyright of Fairfax New Zealand Limited 2009, All rights reserved.
Last updated: 2012-01-25
Database: ProQuest Central,ProQuest Australia & New Zealand Newsstand

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