By Mary Sabo, L.Ac DACM and Joseph Lee, B.A.
Heighted stress and anxiety is a common hardship for couples finding it difficult to conceive. It can be a daunting process as they understand the reason for their infertility and navigate therapy options. As patients begin this process, it is important for them to find ways to cope as their physiological and psychological well-being directly influences the quality of their life and treatment outcomes during the patient journey. [i]
We recently presented a study at a national conference for The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (Washington D.C.) on patient perception when Acupuncture and other Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) techniques are utilized in tandem to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatment[ii]. Conducted in collaboration with The Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York and the YinOva Center; the study included a 40-question survey that focused on patient demographics, medical history, lifestyle choices, CAM experience, and stress levels. Findings from the study demonstrate a reduction in patients’ stress levels and increased comfort when pursuing CAM therapies while engaged in IVF cycles. Patients noted that there was a significant reduction in workplace strain and enhanced partner relationships.
Patients noted they “highly valued” this integrative approach to treatment. Of the 49 patients who responded, 71.47% felt it was "highly important" for their ART doctor and CAM practitioner to work together during their treatment. It was "very important" to 81.3% of 48 answering participants for their doctor to accept the use of acupuncture during their treatments. Study participants reported feeling "empowered and reduced anxiety" with the addition of acupuncture and nearly all patients (98.1%) who answered recommend CAM treatments during ART cycles.
Qualitative studies like this one show the value of combining conventional fertility treatments (ART) with more holistic therapies like acupuncture. Patients can benefit by feeling empowered to seek extra support through their fertility journey to help manage stress and anxiety. Doctors can use this information to understand how greatly their patients may benefit from an integrative approach, which might benefit their treatment outcomes.
[i] Frederiksen Y, Farver-Vestergaard I, Skovgård NG, Ingerslev HJ, Zachariae R. Efficacy of psychosocial interventions for psychological and pregnancy outcomes in infertile women and men: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2015 Jan 28;5(1)
[ii] Kelly Zafman, MS, Mary Sabo, L.Ac., Emma Thake, BA, Joseph Lee, BA, Alan B. Copperman, MD, Tanmoy Mukherjee, MD. Patients undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments seek integrative approach to infertility. ACOG annual meeting: Washington DC, 2016 – Poster ID#27F