The average ectopic pregnancy rate amongst those who conceive naturally is between 1% and2%. Ectopic pregnancies amongst the IVF community is between 2% and 5%.
When getting treated before your embryo transfer your uterine lining is flushed with blood causing the lining to be healthier, more receptive and more amenable to an implantation. But, when you have an embryo transferred, the cather which houses the embryo will touch your uterus causing either minimal or serious spasming. This spasming can cause the transferred embryo to shift upward into a fallopian tube causing disaster. Doing acupuncture post embryo transfer either greatly reduces the spasming or completely stops it. This means that your chances of having an ectopic are significantly reduced and your chances of having an endometrial implantation are significantly increased.
Utilizing acupuncture pre-embryo-transfer improves hemodynamics (blood flow) to the uterine lining making it more amenable to facilitating a successful implantation. We know this to be true based on transvaginal ultrasound with a color doppler. When performing this TVU pre- acupuncture, one observes a small amount of endometrial blood perfusion. After acupuncture, when the TVU with color doppler is repeated, there is twice as much blood found in the lining.
Also, there is something known as the ‘uterine artery impedance index’. The higher the index, the lower the amount of intraendometrial blood flow. After acupuncture, the uterine artery impedance index always lowers. Using acupuncture pre-transfer will increase your chances of having a successful implantation barring any pathological mechanisms which may prevent this.
The uterus has a similar anatomy to two pieces of printer paper, one on top of the other. The uterus is ‘closed’ and flat and only expands when there is a fetus present (with the exception of pathology, i.e. a fibroid, etc.)
During an embryo transfer, a long catheter, housing an embryo is inserted into the vagina, through the cervix, and into the uterus whereupon the plunger is depressed, and the embryo is deposited in the uterus.
IVF patients are more likely than the non-ivf-population to have an ectopic pregnancy. Here’s why: when the catheter is inserted into the uterus it will touch the top or bottom of the uterus which will immediately cause the uterus to spasm. This spasming can make the embryo swim backwards into one of the fallopian tubes, causing an ectopic pregnancy.
When acupuncture is used post-embryo-transfer, it either stops, or greatly reduces the spasming. As a result, this causes two things to manifest:
From a clinical perspective it makes sense to include acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer.