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How Does Assisted Reproductive Technology Work?

Aug 08, 2023
How Does Assisted Reproductive Technology Work?
Assisted reproductive technology helps you get pregnant when you’re struggling with infertility. The Optimal Fertility Program supports ART, making the medical intervention more likely to succeed. Read on to learn more about ART and how it works.

About 2.3% percent of infants born in the United States are conceived using assisted reproductive technology, or ART. 

ART is a group of medical techniques used to assist individuals or couples in achieving pregnancy when natural conception is challenging or not possible. 

ART procedures are typically performed under the guidance of reproductive specialists and fertility experts. The Optimal Fertility Program offered here at Minnesota Integrative Medicine & Acupuncture can make the difference you need to get pregnant when you’re undergoing ART. 

Clinical Director and Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Kierstin Beaman supports your fertility and pregnancy journey. Here’s what she wants you to know about ART and how her practice can help.

About assisted reproductive technology

The most common type of ART is in vitro fertilization (IVF). This complex procedure involves uniting an egg and sperm in a laboratory and then transferring the resulting embryo to a woman's uterus to establish a pregnancy. 

The process starts with hormonal medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, which are later collected through a minor surgical procedure called egg retrieval. On the same day, a sperm sample is collected from either the male partner or a donor. In the lab, technicians combine the eggs and sperm to facilitate fertilization, and the fertilized eggs, now embryos, are cultured in a controlled environment. 

The specialist selects healthy embryos for transfer into the uterus through the cervix, with the hope of successful implantation. 

Another form of ART, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a specialized form of IVF used for notable male fertility issues. During ICSI, a single sperm is injected directly into an egg to promote fertilization. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a simpler and less invasive ART procedure that involves placing specially prepared sperm directly into the uterus near the time of ovulation. 

Less commonly used ART procedures include gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), which places both eggs and sperm into the fallopian tubes, and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), which is similar to IVF but transfers fertilized embryos into the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus.

The challenge of ART success rates

For couples struggling with infertility, the journey to parenthood can be an emotionally and financially draining process. ART offers hope to many, but success rates can still be discouragingly low. 

The national average success rate of conception with the first IVF treatment alone is just 55% of women under 35, and only 4.3% for those over 42. For many couples, the journey doesn't end there, and they may have to undergo multiple rounds of IVF, often three or more cycles, to achieve their dream of parenthood. As the number of cycles increases, so does the financial burden and emotional toll.

How the Optimal Fertility Program helps

Our Optimal Fertility Program offers acupuncture alongside the modern ART treatments to greatly increase your chances of successful conception. In fact, acupuncture can improve IVF probability by up to 70%, according to Dr. Beaman.

The acupuncture-assisted IVF treatment program involves carefully timed and targeted acupuncture sessions to optimize fertility and enhance the chances of successful conception.

Pre-stimulation phase

Several weeks before the IVF cycle's stimulatory phase, patients undergo weekly acupuncture treatments to prepare their bodies for the upcoming procedures.

Stimulation phase

During the stimulatory phase, the frequency of acupuncture sessions increases to twice a week. This helps improve blood flow to the ovaries, enhancing the effectiveness of the medications used in IVF.

Implantation procedure

Acupuncture continues through the implantation procedure, with both pre- and/or post-transfer treatments. These sessions relax the uterus and address any uterine spasms that may occur after embryo transfer, increasing the likelihood of successful implantation.

Post-transfer support

Acupuncture sessions are extended to one week after the embryo transfer to provide additional support and optimize the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Why acupuncture helps support ART

Acupuncture can enhance the effectiveness of ART treatments by improving blood flow to the reproductive organs, reducing stress, and promoting relaxation. 

Increased blood flow to the ovaries optimizes a woman’s response to fertility medications, and relaxing the uterus makes the organ more receptive to embryo transplantation. 

Stress can have a negative effect on fertility. By reducing stress, acupuncture promotes a more conducive environment for conception. Acupuncture can also help offset some of the adverse effects of fertility medications, making the ART process more comfortable.

The Optimal Fertility Program offered by Dr. Beaman has helped couples 

and individuals build their families. The program’s holistic approach ensures a healthy pregnancy, prepares the body for labor, and improves postpartum recovery.

If you’re having trouble conceiving, reach out to Dr. Beaman for a consultation. 

Call Minnesota Integrative Medicine & Acupuncture in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, at 651-272-7998, or book an appointment online.