Acupuncture seems to have no effect (Good or bad) on the in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure, finds a new study. The findings of this study are published in the JAMA journal.
The researchers from NICM Health Research Institute (NICM), Western Sydney University, Flinders University, UNSW Sydney, University of South Australia, University of Adelaide and Greenslopes Private Hospital examined the effects of acupuncture administered prior to and following an embryo transfer (ET).
‘Among the patients who had received acupuncture during IVF, the live birth rates for them did not differ by much, when compared to people who were given a sham procedure.
Undertaken across 16 IVF centres in Australia and New Zealand, the randomized clinical trial involved 848 women aged 18 to 42 undergoing an IVF cycle using fresh embryos between June 2011 and October 2015, whereby participants were given either acupuncture or a sham acupuncture control (a non-insertive needle placed away from the true acupuncture points).
The results showed the rate of live birth was 18.3 percent among participants who received acupuncture versus 17.8 percent who received the sham acupuncture control, a non-significant difference.
Professor Caroline Smith, chief investigator and professor of clinical research at NICM, says the study findings reflect the efficacy of a short course of acupuncture administered around the time of ovarian stimulation and on the day of the ET.
“In clinical practice acupuncture treatment is individualized with variation in dosing, including more frequent treatment prior to and during the IVF cycle – the lack of frequent treatments was a limitation of our trial,” says Professor Smith.
“Although our findings do not support acupuncture as an efficacious treatment compared to sham, some studies suggest reproductive outcomes maybe improved when acupuncture is compared with no treatment.”
While a short course of acupuncture may statistically be no better than sham at improving live birth and pregnancy outcomes, a psycho-social benefit from acupuncture was reported by women undergoing IVF.
“We also examined the outcomes of psycho-social benefits in our study of which we are currently writing up in a further paper,” says co-author Professor Michael Chapman, UNSW Sydney and President at the Fertility Society of Australia.
“Feeling relaxed and reporting relief from stress and women feeling good about themselves is to be welcomed for women as they undergo an IVF cycle,” he said.