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Acupuncture & IVF
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Welcome to Imagine Change, a site promoting the integration of traditional medicine with conventional medicine.  Here you can find information regarding acupuncture and acupuncture treatments, results of embryo transfer acupuncture (ETA), the research that has shown significant increases in conception when acupuncture is included in IVF treatment and other topics.
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One of the cornerstones of Chinese herbal medicine is the highly sophisticated process of herb selection to create a formula. Just like in nature, there are herbs that fight each other, and there are herbs that complement each other and enhance their potency. Although there are many ready-made formulae, the real power of this therapy becomes apparent when the choice of herbs is defined by a diagnosis. A formula created in this way is as unique and individual as the person who has requested help.  Modern research into the key organic components that make up a herbal substance is increasing, and is increasingly becoming more rapid as technology advances. And the more popular a substance, the more deeply it is investigated. A few examples of this are herbs such as figwort (rehmannia), ligusticum (Chuan Xiong) and angelica root (dang gui), which for centuries have been included in formulae made by specialists to help women.  Figwort (rehmannia) is known to positively affect the blood, immune and endocrine systems both in western and traditional systems (1). Ligusticum (Chuan Xiong) is a very useful herb, used for a wide range of menstrual disorders including very painful periods and endometriosis (2), likely by increasing progesterone activity (3). Angelica root (Dang Gui), part of the apiaceae family is known as the ginseng for women and is understood to improve blood circulation and regulate the menstrual cycle. For centuries it has been used for menstrual cramping and other gynae complaints, including menopausal symptoms (4). However, it has also been found to increase the effect of the drug warfarin, unsurprising, since dang gui moves blood and so great care needs to be taken when including the herb into a formula (5). 1. Zhang R, Li M, Jia, Z. Rehmannia glutinosa: Review of botany, chemistry and pharmacology; Journal of Ethnopharmacology; Vol 117, 2, p199 - 214, 2008. 2. Jia W, Wang X, Xu D, Zhao A, Zhang Y; Common Traditional Chinese Medicinal Herbs for Dysmenorrhea; Review Article, The School of Pharmacy, Shanghai University, China 2006. 3. Lim et al; Dimeric progestins from rhizomes of ligusticum chuanxiong; Phytochemistry Vol 67, 7, 728 - 734. 4. Xu et al; Efficacy and side effects of Chinese herbal medicine for menopausal symptoms: a critical review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2012;2012:568106. doi: 10.1155/2012/568106. Epub 2013 Jan 13 5. Page J, Lawrence J; Potentiation of Wafarin by Dong Quai; Pharmacotherapy; The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy; Vol 19, 7, p870 - 876, 1999.
Chinese Herbal Medicine; Individualised herbal medicines and unique herbal formulae. The rapidly increasing popularity of Chinese herbal medicine in the west is due in part to the effectiveness of this therapy. As a supplement, it supports well-being in daily life, and augments the restoration of health when a healthy functioning organic system has been compromised.   
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Integrating traditional and conventional medicine can bring a lot of advantages. Research shows that when acupuncture is undertaken in an IVF centre, immediately before embryo transfer, the chances of conception significantly increase, rising to 15% more than normal IVF.
The acupuncture point protocol used in embryo transfer acupuncture (ETA) is derived from the protocol developed by Paulus et al (2002). This first large controlled trial demonstrated an increase in successful conception, from 26% to 42%.For information on results of ETA 
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Pre-embryo transfer treatment Classically, the points used in the pre-embryo transfer treatment are traditionally known to increase blood flow to the uterus and reduce stress.
Post-embryo treatment The points used in the post emryo transfer treatment are traditionally known to enhance the production of energy and blood. The ear points are used to reduce stress.
Acupuncture is one of the group of therapies which comprise the body of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Other therapies include Chinese herbal medicine, tui na (pronounced twee na - a form of traditional physiotherapy) and nutritional therapy. Acupuncture is known to be at least 2000 years old.
In the 1950s disease in rural China was rife. To combat the rising tide of illness, famous TCM consultants were drawn to a new, central university of Traditional medicine in Bei Jing to train medical practitioners. This was the birth place of the barefoot doctors. Once trained these doctors travelled from village to village, dispensing traditional medical care. Since then, acupuncture has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of many conditions. The World Health Authority has identified over 40 conditions in which acupuncture can help. Most recently, acupuncture has been found to significantly increase conception when used before and during an IVF cycle, and when treatments are provided immediately before and after emryo transfer. 
The growth and maturation of healthy sperm and ovum can be affected by so many aspects of our daily lives. Making lifestyle choices which enhance your fertility can help.  It is known that diet and stress are two areas which affect fertility. Exercise helps to combat stress, increase oxygenation of tissues and expel toxins.
Supporting yourself to enhance fertility can take many forms. Dietary advice can be provided by a good nutritional therapist. If stress is a concern, perhaps choosing a massage therapist, trying acupuncture or taking up a yoga class might help. Whoever it is, be sure the practitioner is a member of a recognised governing body. If you find that you have been trying to conceive for a year or more, it might be the right time to consider some tests to exclude any easily remedied problems.
 Diet creates the body and mind, helps to sustain strength and provides the essential nutrients which support our capacity to reproduce. Some meditation techniques can help to initiate a greater internal awareness whilst also calming the mind and encouraging better blood perfusion.  Sperm production is affected by all three factors. Even though millions of sperm are produced, in the western world sperm counts are declining. The exact cause of this is as yet unknown but may be due to environmental pollutants, stress, diet or a combination of both stress and diet - lifestyle. In humans and other mammals, sperm cells become more active as they approach the egg. The process is called hyperactivation. Hyperactivation occurs because of a sudden influx of sodium ions which pass through specific channels on their tails. Sperm require this increase in energy to get through to the zona pellucida, the shell surrounding the egg. Ova need handmaidens. A study published by Brown University in 2006 shows that granulosa cells (handmaidens) multiply due to interaction of two specific types of proteins which then nurture developing eggs. Without the granulosa cells the eggs do not develop properly. With the granulosa cells however, the egg develops properly and can be released to be gathered by the fimbra and start its journey down the fallopian tube. If it is the right sperm, one of the proteins from which the zona pellucida is made up from binds to a partner molecule on the sperm. The binding triggers the release of enzymes the sperm is carrying which dissolve the shell and allow the sperm to penetrate to the plasma of the egg and fuse with the membrane of the egg cell. Here both egg and sperm cease to exist, transforming both separate entities into one, a zygote, marking the beginning of a new life journey. Choosing foods and exercise to enhance this journey can help. Choosing to exclude other foods can also help.
The first baby resulting from IVF was born in 1978 and since then success rates in the UK have increased to around 24% nationally. Success rates vary widely however, depending on a number of factors which include the nature of treatments for patients, the nature and quality of sperm and ova, the nature of the embryo transfer and medical expertise. Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a technique which places sperm within the uterus. The woman’s cycle is carefully monitored using ultrasound, ovulation kits or blood tests. When the ovum is released sperm is inserted high up in the uterus. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) involves the fertilisation of an egg in vitro (outside the woman’s body). Under a microscope, a single sperm is injected into an egg.  In vitro fertilisation (IVF) involves the in vitro fertilisation of eggs outside the womb. This technique is used when all other assisted reproduction techniques have failed. In vivo fertilisation (GIFT), eggs (gametes) and sperm are transferred into the fallopian tubes (intra-fallopian), permitting fertilisation within the uterus. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is available in some clinics. Before embryo transfer the embryo can be screened for genetic abnormalities. The same process can also be applied to screening oocytes as well. If you have been trying to conceive for two years or more then it might be the right time to consider treatments for fertility.
The National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture recognised the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of several diseases and stated that "One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions." All members of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) must observe a Code of Practice which lays down stringent standards of hygiene and sterilisation for needles and other equipment. These procedures have been approved by the Department of Health, and provide protection against the transmission of infectious diseases. Patients who have been treated by a BAcC member are eligible to donate blood through the National Blood Service.
Acupuncture is a very safe therapy. In the United States only 10 incidents of injury resulting from acupunture have been reported since 1965, the advent of record keeping for acupuncture in the West. None involved treatment by licensed acupuncturist who had met professional standards of the acupuncture and Oriental medicine profession.
ETA: = Embryo Transfer Acupuncture PPR: = Positive Pregnancy Rate (a positive pregnancy rate is established by pregnancy test) ET = Embryo Transfer (PPR/ET = positive pregnancy rate per embryo transfer) CPR = Clinical Pregnancy Rate (a clinical pregnancy is established at six weeks by heart beat on ultrasound). 
Results of ETA In 2008 we undertook an evaluation of pregnancies when acupuncture treatments are provided immediately before and after embryo transfer, and compared the results against women of the same ages, and with the same quality embryos but who did not have acupuncture. The positive pregnancy rate (PPR) was 17% higher in the ETA group than in the non-ETA group and the clinical pregnancy rate (CPR) was 10% higher for women under 35, 11% higher for women over 35, and 15% higher for women over 40.
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A poster of the original presentation can be found here.
The first randomised controlled trial evaluating the effect of acupuncture on conception rates on women undergoing IVF was undertaken by Paulus et al in 2002. 160 patients gave informed consent and were randomised into two groups, one of which received normal embryo transfer (n=80) and the other receiving an acupuncture treatment immediately before and immediately after embryo transfer (n=80). Clinical pregnancy was defined as a fetal sac during ultrasound examination 6 weeks after embryo transfer. They found that in the control group, 21 out of 80 patients (26.3%) achieved clinical pregnancy, whereas in the intervention arm 34 out of 80 patients (42.5%) achieved clinical pregnancy.  Critics of this trial argued that there was no control for placebo and so the same team did another trial the following year but with placebo. In this trial there was no statistical difference between the acupuncture and placebo group. In 2004 Margarelli et al published two retrospective studies comparing pregnancy rates in poor and normal responders to IVF. In both trials significantly higher pregnancy rates were noted in the intervention arms. Additionally there were fewer miscarriages in the intervention arms. A study in Denmark (Westergaard et al, 2006) followed with another trial which had two intervention arms (ACU Group1 and ACU Group2). As with Paulus et al 2002, the control arm (n=87) received normal IVF. ACU Group1 (n=95) received acupuncture treatments before and after embryo transfer, whilst ACU Group2 (n=91) received acupuncture treatments before and after embryo transfer and a further acupuncture treatment two days later. Clinical and on going pregnancy rates were significantly higher in ACU Group 1 as compared to controls 39% (37 out of 95) vs 26% (21 out of 87) and 36% (34 out of 95) vs 22% (19 out of 87). Clinical and on going pregnancy rates were higher in ACU Group 2 (36% and 26%) than in controls but did not reach statistical significance. The second study published in 2006 compared an intervention arm (n=116) who received acupuncture immediately before and after embryo transfer with a control (n=109) who received placebo treatments. The clinical pregnancy rate and on going pregnancy rate were significantly higher (33.6% and 28.4% respectively) in the intervention arm than control (15.6% and 13.8%). In 2007 Smith et al compared 228 women in Australia. The intervention arm received three treatments of acupuncture; one treatment on the first day of 9 stimulating injections and treatments immediately before and after embryo transfer. The control arm of 118 women received placebo treatments. Although pregnancy rates were 1.5 times higher in the intervention arm, no significant difference between the groups was found (31% and 23% respectively) and although for those receiving acupuncture treatments ongoing pregnancy rates at 18 weeks was higher in the treatment group (28% and 18%) this was also not statistically different. Also in 2007, Craig et al compared women who received acupuncture before and after embryo transfer in external complementary clinics who then travelled to the IVF centre, to a control group which received an embryo transfer at the IVF centre. This is the only RCT that has shown a negative effect in the provision of acupuncture at the time of embryo transfer. There are some differences between the study conducted by Paulus et al, and the other trials. Westergaard et al did not use ear points, which may be significant since ear acupuncture is thought to have an analgesic action (see below) and combat stress. In Craig et al, the authors suggest that the stress of travelling across town to have acupuncture before and after embryo transfer may be a reason. However, there may also be a question over the acupuncture point protocol used, which differed from Paulus. Overview In 2008 Manheimer et al provided an overview of the effect of acupuncture on IVF, comparing the results of 7 trials and 1366 women. The net result showed that having acupuncture immediately before and after embryo transfer can increase the chances of conception by 10%.  Conclusions: Current preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.  Other trials In the main, most commentators have reviewed published data on large trials - the effect of acupuncture treatments immediately before embryo transfer on conception rates. However, there have also been many other smaller trials the results of which support the use of acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy in assisted reproduction. The following are just a few areas currently offered to patients.
Improving fertility Endometrial thickness is very important to implantation. It is highly unlikely that an endometrium less than 6mm thick will support implantation. The uterus and endometrial thickness rely on blood flow from the uterine arteries and in many cases, blood flow in the uterine arteries is restricted. In 1996, a trial in Sweden (Stener-Victorin et al, 1996) evaluated the effect of blood flow in the uterine arteries. Women whose uterine arterial blood flow was restricted were given 8 acupuncture treatments over a month prior to egg collection and embryo transfer. The team found that blood flow in the uterine arteries significantly increased. Follicle stimulation Preceding Paulus et al (2002) a small study evaluated the effect of acupuncture for infertile women undergoing ICSI. No pregnancies were found in the non-acupuncture group whereas all women in the acupuncture group conceived, although only one pregnancy lasted beyond the first trimester. However, what is of more interest in this study is that significantly more follicles were recruited with acupuncture than without (P=.02).  The findings here suggested that acupuncture could be a useful adjuvant to gonadotropin therapy among women undergoing ICSI. Egg Collection Confusion, bloating and swelling are symptoms often expressed by patients after egg collection, symptoms that acupuncture has a long history in treating. However, a randomised controlled trial of 200 patients was undertaken in Denmark. Both groups received a paracervical block. A short treatment of electro-acupuncture (EA) was provided to the intervention arm (n=100) whilst the control arm (n=100) received conventional medical analgesia (CMA). A visual analogue scale (VAS) was used to evaluate pain, and anxiety before, during and after egg collection. The primary outcome measure was pain relief: secondary outcome measures were costs, time to discharge and clinical out-come parameters.  RESULTS: There were no differences in any VAS ratings before the procedure. Directly after egg collection, the EA group reported higher mean and maximum pain, and “pain now” than the CMA group. At 30 min after egg collection however, no significant differences were found between the groups regarding abdominal pain. Moreover, time to discharge and costs were significantly lower in the EA group compared with the CMA group. No differences in clinical outcome parameters were seen. CONCLUSION: A significant difference was found between the EA and the CMA groups regarding pain during egg collection. The authors suggest that this was probably due to the fact that the CMA group was pre-medicated as part of the study design. Despite a per-operative difference in pain rating it was concluded that EA, given a few minutes prior to egg collection, is a good alternative to CMA. The procedure was well tolerated by patients, who had shorter hospitalisation time and lower costs.
If this is your first visit for acupuncture for your IVF cycle, in order to plan the best treatment strategy you will need to have a consultation. A full traditional medical consultation usually takes an hour (excluding any blood results). Your current health will be assessed and reviewed so that the most effective treatment strategy can be planned. During the traditional consultation you will be asked about your current symptoms and what treatment you have received so far, your medical history and that of your close family, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. Pulse and tongue diagnoses are intrinsic to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The quality, rhythm and strength of your pulses on both wrists are assessed whilst the structure, colour and coating of your tongue also gives a good guide to your physical health.
IVF Support Service Many patients find that in addition to a busy life, IVF treatments may lead to symptoms that may exacerbate stress levels. Acupuncture is renowned as an effective de-stressor and has been shown to encourage better blood flow to the reproductive area.  IVF Support is provided prior to the commencement of your IVF cycle, during your cycle and after egg collection.  Embryo transfer acupuncture (ETA) Service Many studies have shown that when acupuncture treatments are provided immediately before and after embryo transfer, the chances of conception are significantly increased. Embryo transfers are provided at the most optimal time for the embryos. Embryos evolve and so the time for your embryo transfer may change.  To manage this, the embryo transfer acupuncture service is a  standby service, to ensure that ETA is available at the time of your transfer, Monday to Sunday.
If this is the first time you will be coming for an acupuncture treatment, you might like to take a moment to consider how you might feel afterwards. Many patients say they feel a slight floating sensation as they relax during and after their first treatment and so you might like to arrange you diary so that you can have some time after to enjoy your experience. It might be advisable to avoid circumstances where you will be needing to work at top performance. If you would like to, you could wear loose and comfortable clothing. During an acupuncture treatment Your treatment plan will have been established during your consultation. Acupuncture point prescriptions will used according to that plan. In some cases, acupuncture stimulation may be augmented with electro-acupuncture. How many treatments will I need? Generally, treatments may take place over a few days or several weeks. As with all medical practices, the response to acupuncture can differ from one person to another. The number and frequency of treatments suggested will depend on the outcome of your consultation and how you feel you are responding to the acupuncture treatments. It may be useful to keep notes (mental or written) of any responses you have had due to treatment so that follow up treatments can modified accordingly.  Cautions Make sure your acupuncturist is registered with a governing body, such as the British Acupuncture Council. Stimulating certain acupuncture points, can trigger uterine contractions and could induce premature labour and so it is advisable to tell your acupuncturist if you are pregnant or think you may be. Electrical stimulation of acupuncture needles and / or magnets could cause problems for people with pacemakers.
Consultation, diagnosis and treatment plan: To know the origin of your journey, time must be taken to identify the history of the complaint.  Diagnosis integrates traditional methodology and results of modern biological investigations.  £95.00 (excluding tests) Courses of treatment: Uterine Receptivity: A course of eight treatments undertaken over a month to improve the receptivity of your uterus to embryo transfer.   £504.00 (inc. 10% discount) Embryo Transfer Acupuncture (ETA) Standby Service:  Always provided in the IVF centre, the ETA service is shown, clinically, to increase your chances of successful conception by 15%.  £395.00 Acupuncture treatments: Individual treatments based on fertility standard, tailored specifically to your particular needs.  £85.00 Chinese herbal medicine: Each formula is specifically designed to your particular needs, your diagnosis and your treatment strategy. Formulae are encapsulated powders, sent by special delivery direct to your door. Usual price per week: £45.00
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Nicola I first met Nick in June 2012 when I was 33 and had recently been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. By then my husband and I had been trying to conceive for a couple of years. Previous to meeting Nick, after a year of trying naturally, we were referred to our local fertility unit at Southend Hospital.  Here we tried Clomid a number of times before further tests diagnosed POF. We were then referred for IVF at Holly House Hospital. The consultant there suggested working with Nick alongside my IVF treatment as they had seen patients respond positively to acupuncture and Chinese medicine. It was made clear to me that there was a high possibility that I would be a poor responder to the IVF drugs but this would give me the best possible chance. At this point I felt quite shocked with the diagnosis and rather overwhelmed. After my first appointment with Nick I began to feel far more positive, not only did he treat me with Chinese medicine but I felt Nick provided emotional support all the way through. He really listened to all my worries and concerns, and could offer guidance, with a different way of looking at things. He helping me to talk things through and find solutions. I would leave the sessions feeling positive, happy and determined to keep going. Unfortunately our first IVF cycle ended in miscarriage and the quality and number of the eggs retrieved was poor. Nick felt that as I had only been taking the herbs for 2 months, they hadn't had a chance to make a difference yet. We carried on and when we went through our 2nd cycle 6 months later, the results were amazingly different. We had one top quality egg put back in, which resulted in our son Jack, and we also had 2 more (of the same quality) frozen to use in the future. We thank Nick for everything he did to help us and feel so lucky to have had him recommended.
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Pip I first met Nick in 2008. I had been through 5 failed attempts to get pregnant with IUI. My Mum saw a leaflet about Nick & acupuncture & it's benefits during fertility treatment, in the waiting room & picked it up for me. Soon after, during my first IVF treatment, I wanted to do everything i could to increase my chances of pregnancy (which, at nearly 40, was fast declining). I had pre & post embryo transfer acupuncture with Nick & found it to be a really helpful & calming experience. Knowing that both sessions would be on site at the clinic where the transfer was taking place, made it all the more comforting & after the first pre transfer session, I went in feeling very relaxed, calm & prepared. The session post transfer allows you to lie still & be calm & rest, before heading home, which I think is very important, both physically & mentally. I got pregnant during this first IVF & was on top of the world, only to miscarry at 11 weeks. When i came back to try IVF again, i didn't hesitate to see Nick for the same pre & post acupuncture treatments again, i already felt that it had been fundamental in increasing my chances of pregnancy the first time, so wouldn't have wanted to go through treatment again without it. On my second attempt at IVF i got pregnant again & gave birth to my  longed for baby boy 9 months later.  When my baby was 6 months old, i decided to start trying again to give him a sibling, before my time ran out. On my 3rd IVF (first one post having my baby) i got pregnant again but miscarried at 12 weeks. My 4th IVF was unsuccessful but on my 5th IVF, i got pregnant with twins, sadly miscarrying them at 8 & 9 weeks. At this point, i was 42 & clearly those around me both medical & family/friends were beginning to think it was maybe time to let go, stop trying & move on. But i still didn't feel ready. After this last miscarriage, Nick called me & asked me to go to talk to him at the clinic. We discussed my whole history at length & then he suggested that i go on an intensive course of Chinese herbs before going for my final IVF attempt. I always remember Nick saying that i had to imagine how tired my ovaries must be after all this treatment & all the drugs & that they really needed a rest. We laughed imagining them lying on a sunchair on holiday somewhere, recharging their batteries. Also my body in general needed nourishing, both physically & mentally & my red blood cells needed boosting. And so i received the first of many packages of Chinese herbs in the post & i started taking them. First of all, the boost it gave me was amazing. Within a week or so of starting to take them, i had so much more energy & was jumping out of bed in the morning in a way i hadn't in ages. Also i felt so much mentally stronger than i had before. I took the herbs for 5 months, before starting what i had decided was to be my final IVF attempt. I had the best response i had ever had, to treatment, which was quite something when i was about to turn 43. For the first time ever i had 2 embryos to transfer & 2 to freeze, i had never had more than 2 good embryos before. Sadly the cycle was unsuccessful but i still had my 2 little frozen embryos to use as my "last hurrah". I continued taking the Chinese herbs for another 4 months & then decided to transfer my frozen embryos, during a natural cycle. This was something i thought i would never have considered at my age but i somehow felt that all the months of boosting my body & blood & uterus with the herbs, would have made a difference. I was right. When i had my scans before transfer, my lining was perfect & i had even grown 4 follicles naturally (not that i was using them but it showed how well my reproductive system was working). I had my pre & post acupunture sessions with Nick, as usual & even though we both knew this was the last time, i felt somehow calm & as if i had given it my very best try & was in the best possible state to receive the embryos. My feeling of calm continued throughout the dreaded 2 week wait & i was ecstatic to find that i was pregnant again at the end of it. This time all went according to plan & just before i turned 44, i gave birth to my precious baby girl.  I have absolutely no doubt that Nick was instrumental in all my pregnancies. 6 IVF's with 4 pregnancies, plus a pregnancy on my Frozen Embryo Transfer makes for pretty amazing statistics for someone in their early 40's like me. 5 out of 7 times. I know that the statistics show that your chances of pregnancy are increased dramatically with pre & post transfer acupuncture, if you are in your 40's. I think my history proves it! Nick was always kind, gentle & professional. His dedication to his patients is amazing, i can't imagine when he ever has a w/e off. He is always available to talk & somehow, is always there whenever your transfer may be. He makes you feel at ease & is very sensitive to the huge emotional rollercoaster that you are on when you are going through fertility treatment. He is also good company & there is always a good conversation to be had during treatment, if you want it. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Nick to anyone wanting to get pregnant & i am eternally grateful for his help & support through all my treatments & for helping me achieve my dreams of a family.
Annabel I had been trying to get pregnant with my boyfriend but we had no luck, so we went to the doctor, who told us it was unlikely we would get pregnant naturally and he referred us to an IVF clinic in London.  It was expensive and wasn't successful.  I never gave up but I didn't have much hope because we’d been told that it was so unlikely we would get pregnant naturally.   A few years later I was introduced to Nick through a member of my family. I told him a bit of my story and he said that he might be able to help but he would need to hear the whole thing before being able to make a commitment to treating me.  So, one afternoon in March I told him the whole story.  It took quite a while.  Afterwards he said that he would treat me with Chinese herbal medicine.  He said that one course of herbs would take three months, but that it might take two or even three courses.   He said that he would prepare the formulae and mail them to me.   A few days later the pots of pills came in the post and I started taking them.  Nick had warned me that sometimes there are some minor side effects but I didn't have any.  I carried on taking them when I went out to Turkey to meet my boyfriend but we didn't get pregnant then.  When I came back briefly in June I called up Nick for some more pills which again arrived in the post and then I went back out to Turkey.  My period didn't come in August and then I did the pregnancy test which was positive!  I didn't tell anyone until my 12 week scan.  Now I am four months pregnant!.   Christine “I met Nick shortly after I had miscarried after IVF and his patience, kindness and acupuncture really helped me through a challenging time. When we decided a few months later to try IVF again, Nick's calm presence on the day seemed to reassure both my husband and I.  Having acupuncture on site both before and after the transfer meant that I was incredibly relaxed during the transfer itself and happy in the knowledge that everything had been done on the day to make it work.  I am now in the early stages of pregnancy.” Sarah “Nick’s pre- and post embryo transfer acupuncture at the Bridge Centre relaxes the body and mind at a very tense, but important, time in the IVF cycle. I felt positive and prepared after the acupuncture treatments. Nick is professional and caring and is unbelievably accommodating when the schedule for embryo transfer changes.” Hannah "I went to see Nick after a year of trying for a baby and was thrilled to fall pregnant after only three sessions. Unfortunately I miscarried and didn't go back again until a year later, thinking that getting pregnant once was a good sign. I wish I'd continued the treatment sooner as it was a tough year and when I did go back and start the course of herbs again, I got pregnant very quickly. Falling pregnant once thanks to acupuncture could have been fluke, but twice seems to point towards it really helping! Nick is very knowledgeable about fertility and it's lovely that he seems to care very much about what he does. I trusted I was in safe and expert hands and plan to continue treatment through my pregnancy. When Western medicine has no answers, it's wonderful to know there is another approach - especially for something as important and mysterious as fertility.” Claire "I underwent a course of acupuncture prior to and during my second cycle of IVF. Having had one failed IVF cycle I was keen to do all I could second time round to make it a success, and it certainly was - I now have twin boys! As well as the excellent results, I found the second cycle a much more positive experience, something which I can attribute greatly to my acupuncture sessions with Nick. In the run up to egg collection and embryo transfer I found my weekly sessions to be deeply relaxing and a positive way of preparing for the next stage of treatment. Nick was excellent at analysing and treating both physical and emotional complaints, in order to ensure a healthy body and mind, something which is critical in the often gruellingIVF process. The session I had with Nick prior to embryo transfer was particularly instrumental, I believe, to the success of my treatment. Nick helpfully carried out this session at the clinic where embryo transfer was to take place, and he transformed me from nervous wreck upon my arrival there to complete serenity immediately prior to embryo transfer, enabling the transfer to take place smoothly and effectively. He carried out a final session in the clinic after embryo transfer and I left feeling confident about the future, which confidence, happily, turned out to be justified."
Lisa  Expect quite a unique experience! The sensation is one that you will never have felt before and therefore it comes as a bit of a shock! I felt really relaxed and together which I felt prepared me for the transfer. Doing the treatment directly afterwards meant I relaxed for an hour after the transfer which I'm sure does so much good. Nikki I saw Nick Dalton-Brewer in August 2008 for acupuncture prior to egg transfer. I was very emotional as Jason (my husband) and I had been on an incredibly long journey to get to this point. Nick was very professional and calmed me down. He told me exactly what he was going to do. The needles would go in certain areas of my body and would be 'vibrated' 5 times throughout the procedure. I have experienced acupuncture on many occasions and this experience was quite different. Nick would hold an appendage i.e. leg, and insert the needle. I found this comforting and it made me feel very safe. I was quite scared at the prospect of having the needles stimulated, but once again, Nick put my mind at rest. We had a great chat which lightened the mood and of course helped take my mind off the procedure. After this first treatment, Nick had to wait a number of hours before he could work on me again. This second procedure was for after implantation. Again he was extremely lovely, but professional and the procedure went very well. I honestly believe that with Nick's help the embryo transfer worked perfectly and I am now 10 weeks pregnant with twins. Thank you Nick. Heather Nick was absolutely charming, friendly and approachable. His treatments helped me enormously to relax before and after embryo transfer. Even if my IVF treatment does not have a positive result I would absolutely recommend acupuncture at the time of embryo transfer. Hugely beneficial in coping with the stress and anxiety of embryo transfer. Vanessa Following a course of acupuncture with Nick my endometrial lining increased in thickness. I am sure that this helped me to achieve a successful pregnancy with twins. I would also say that the acupuncture sessions I had with Nick have given me a sense of calm and well-being. Liz I was very sceptical about the benefits that acupuncture would bring to increase my fertility. I was desperate to fall pregnant though, and if someone told me that standing on my head whilst whistling “When the Saints go Marching In” would improve my prospects, believe me I would have. I was so vulnerable and fragile during our conception attempts; I hated being so out of control, and yet acupuncture, aside from being quite relaxing and allegedly improving my fertility, felt good to be doing something positive, as if somehow I regained a little control. So three months before my first IVF attempt (after numerous failed other treatments), I embarked on weekly acupuncture sessions at my local TCM practitioner. The sessions were quite relaxing, but the service did feel quite cold and impersonal. Still sceptical, I had nothing to loose so I kept going. It was during these treatments that I became aware of research that was being undertaken in this field, and proven increased success rates if acupuncture is performed on the same day as IVF, both before and after the transfer, and best results yielded if done at the same place as the transfer to avoid any rushing around/unnecessary travelling. I became more convinced by the hard facts, Science rather than myth. So I began my next quest, to find an acupuncturist who would treat me at the IVF clinic. Queue: Nick Dalton-Brewer. His details were given to me on recommendation. Nick offers an encouraging personal service and is really tuned into the whole IVF process and truly respects the enormity of what is at stake during IVF treatment. I found his approach to be very personal and professional, and I am certain the acupuncture made a huge contribution to my physical and emotional state of mind on the day. I could rest in the knowledge that I had done everything possible to increase the odds of success. The treatment was successful! Finally I achieved my dream, I fell pregnant with my darling daughter. I have since undergone IVF a second time, again treated by Nick on the day of transfer (I didn’t bother with the weekly TCM sessions this time though), and I am delighted to be nearly four months pregnant with twins as I write this.
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About Nick Dalton-Brewer
Nick is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner and a clinical scientist. He works at the Charterhouse Clinic and Kings College Hospital where he is researching the effect of acupuncture on stress and neuroendocrine markers at the time of embryo transfer. Nick originally trained in politics and law and went to the Inns of Court School of Law. After a life changing event he re-trained in acupuncture and Chinese medicine for six years and undertook a further two years of TCM obstetrics and gynaecology training. He is currently engaged in research in the NHS evaluating the effect of acupuncture on IVF, and is writing his second book. Nick is a member of the British Acupuncture Council, the register of Chinese Herbal Medical Practioners and the Royal Society of Medicine. Nick Dalton-Brewer MSC, MBAcC, MRCHM, MRSMWriter, Scientist, Acupuncture and Chinese Medical Herbalist.
“ Nick Dalton-Brewer boldly seeks to reconcile recent develops in molecular medicine with traditional acupuncture theory. The integrated approach to IVF treatment described in this book is original and well thought out, a multidisciplinary approach which I believe shoiuld be encouraged. Students and practitioners of both disciplines will find this book a useful foundation for a rapidly evolving medical discipline." DR DAVID GILLOTT Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences at St Georges Medical School
 This practical book provides need-to-know information vital for acupuncturists to treat patients with fertility problems. Nick Dalton-Brewer details the causes of fertility issues, including the impact of lifestyle and diet, and explains the scientific basis for the different methods of treatment. Integrating Assisted Reproduction Techniques (ART) with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapies and acupuncture, he presents his own cutting-edge research on the successful use of these therapies to improve fertility and pregnancy rates and describes a method for integrated diagnosis and treatment. This book will give TCM practitioners direct access to the vital specialist knowledge and technical information needed to treat the increasing numbers of patients with fertility problems effectively. It will also be of interest to doctors of Western medicine concerned about the efficacy of recommending acupuncture treatments as adjuncts to ART.
“ Acupuncture support during IVF treatment is rapidly becoming accepted practice. Several good quality research studies have demonstrated the benefit with increased implantation rates.  Nick Dalton Brewer has for the first time brought together in one well, organised and well referenced book the practice, the research and the physiological science behind this exciting natural enhancement to IVF. This book is a "must read" for all acupuncturists involved in IVF treatments and all conventional medicine IVF doctors alike.” DR TREVOR WING
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