Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc

Increase IUI Success (Intrauterine insemination)

Acupuncture and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

 

It can be confusing and overwhelming trying to navigate through all the details, steps and protocols in your assisted reproductive processes. Even though Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a lot more simple and less involved than IVF, it can still be a lot of information.

I’m here to help you to simplify the process and to increase the effectiveness of your IUI cycle to get pregnant.

Let’s break down the IUI process and talk about exactly how acupuncture supports the process to increase IUI success.

What is IUI?

IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is a simple procedure where sperm is injected directly into the uterus around the time of ovulation. This helps healthy sperm to get closer to the egg in order for fertilization to happen.

It’s sometimes called artificial insemination, donor insemination or alternative insemination.

Before doing the insemination, a couple things are done.

Semen is collected either from your partner or a donor and then it gets washed and prepared to collect a concentrated amount of healthy sperm from the semen.

The second thing that can be involved with IUI is that your doctor may put you on fertility medications such as clomid or letrozole to stimulate ovulation so that you release more than one egg and there are more eggs to work with. This gives the sperm a better chance of getting to an egg. Typically, these medications are started on Day 3 of your menstrual cycle and you take them for 5 days.

These fertility medications trick the brain into thinking there isn’t enough estrogen. What then happens is that the brain will release more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulating the growth of more follicles.

Sometimes, a trigger shot may also be indicated to induce ovulation at a specific time to make the timing of the whole process more successful.

Why would IUI be indicated?

IUI is usually one of the first medical interventions that couples will try when trying to get pregnant. It’s simple and relatively low-tech. It’s also more cost effective and less invasive than IVF.

There are many reasons why your fertility doctor will recommend IUI for you:

  • unexplained infertility

  • mild fertility issues

  • sexual or erectile dysfunction

  • male factor infertility like low sperm motility or low sperm count

  • issues with cervical mucus like cervical mucus that is hostile to sperm

How can Acupuncture be Used with IUI?

If you’re going to be undergoing a IUI procedure, acupuncture will significantly boost your chances of getting pregnant with IUI.

Similar to IVF in the principles of treatment, acupuncture stimulates blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, promotes ovulation and a healthy uterine lining and relieves stress.

Acupuncture can also help with male fertility factors such as low sperm count or low sperm motility.

Research on IUI and Acupuncture:

There was a research study published in the journal of Integrative medicine. A team led by Dr Shahar Levi-Ari from Tel Aviv University compared the success rates of couples using intrauterine insemination (IUI) both with and without Chinese herbal and acupuncture therapies.

When combining IUI with traditional treatments, 65.5 percent of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4 percent of the control group, who received no herbal or acupuncture therapy.

Timing of Acupuncture During your IUI Cycle:

In an ideal situation, it’s extremely worthwhile to have regular weekly acupuncture visits for at least three months prior to your IUI cycle. This will help prepare your body for optimal conception.

Also, for the male partner, it’s best to support optimal sperm health with three months of weekly acupuncture visits prior to the IUI procedure.

Once your IUI cycle has begun, I recommend at least three acupuncture sessions, the timing of which is as follows:

Acupuncture treatment #1: after your period is over within cycle days 5 to 9

  • improves blood flow to ovaries and uterus

  • promotes ovulation

  • improves egg quality

  • help builds up the uterine lining that has been shed with the period

  • decreases stress

  • decreases side effects of fertility drugs (such as bloating, cramping & discomfort

Acupuncture treatment #2: One or two days prior to your IUI

  • relaxes uterine contractions to make the uterus more receptive

  • facilitates ovulation

  • supports adequate levels of progesterone

  • improve blood flow to uterus

  • increases thickness & quality of the uterine lining

  • reduces stress

Acupuncture treatment #3: One week after your IUI

  • this supports implantation

  • reduces uterine contractions

  • reduces stress

  • supports pregnancy

Once a positive pregnancy test, it’s advised to continue acupuncture treatments to have the best pregnancy you can. Acupuncture also helps treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and other uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms.

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