Acupuncture versus antidepressants in the management of postpartum depression: A systematic review

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Effects of acupuncture during in vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection: An updated systemic review and meta-analysis.

Xian Zhang et al, 2018, Eur Jnl Int Med,

European Journal of Integrative Medicine.

The most recent meta analysis of outcomes for IVF patients concluded that those who had acupuncture during their cycle compared to those who had routine care, had a higher chance of having a live birth.



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Effectiveness of acupuncture in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome undergoing in vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Junyoung Jo and  Yoon Jae Lee, 2017 Acup in Med, online

British Medical Journal; Acupuncture in Medicine


A review of randomised and controlled trials that examined the effect of acupuncture on 430 PCOS patients undergoing IVF, indicates that acupuncture (both electro acupuncture and manual acupuncture) improved pregnancy rates and reduced the risk of OHSS. Acupuncture was delivered only during the IVF cycle and did not improve live birth outcomes in this review.


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Therapeutic effect of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Qian Y et al, 2016  Arch Gynecol Obstet Dec p 1-16

Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics


Data from nearly six and a half thousand women undergoing IVF reveals that acupuncture improves pregnancy rates especially when it is carried out in the stimulation phase of the IVF cycle when the follicles are developing. In general studies carried out in Asia using electro acupuncture showed a stronger trend to improved IVF outcomes than did non Asian studies that did not use electro-acupuncture.

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The Role of Acupuncture in in vitro Fertilization: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Shen C et al, 2015 Gynecol Obstet Invest 79:1-12

Gynecological and Obstetric Investigations


A review of 21 Randomized Controlled trials (that included nearly 5,500 patients) concluded that while acupuncture administered to IVF patients only at the time of embryo transfer did not confer any significant advantage, acupuncture administered during the IVF cycle stimulation phase and/or during implantation phase in addition to treatment at the time of transfer showed  significant improvement in pregnancy rates.


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Can Chinese Herbal Medicine Improve Outcomes of In Vitro Fertilization? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Acupuncture-Pregnancy-478Huijuan Cao et al, PLOS one, 2013, Vol 8, 12, e81650



This collaboration between China and the UK analysed 20 eligible randomised trials that looked at the effect of Chinese herbal medicine taken during IVF cycles. Most IVF clinics in the west discourage the use of herbs during IVF, so the 20 trials used in this meta-analysis came from IVF clinics in China, and were reported in Chinese medical journals.The combination of Chinese herbal medicine with IVF significantly increased the pregnancy rate, though the authors express concern about a risk of bias since reporting and analysis requirements are different in Chinese journals.

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Impact of whole systems traditional Chinese medicine on in-vitro fertilization outcomes

cov150h-1Hullender Rubin L et al, Reprod Biomed Online, Vol 30, 602-612, 2015

Reproductive BioMedicine Online


Lee Hullender Rubin and her colleagues analysed the outcomes of more than a thousand IVF cycles, and found that women who used Chinese Medicine (acupuncture with or without herbs, dietary advice etc), had a higher live birth rate than those doing IVF alone. The proportion of live births was significantly higher in the Chinese Medicine group (61.3%) compared with either the usual IVF care (48.2%) or acupuncture only on day of embryo transfer (50.8%). Women in the Chinese Medicine group had on average 12 acupuncture treatments before and during the IVF cycle.


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Evaluating research information on practitioner websites describing the use of acupuncture as an adjunct to IVF


Fogarty S and Smith C, 2015 Eur Jnl Int Med, 429, pg 1876

European Journal of Integrative Medicine


Infertility patients in general, and IVF patients in particular, are a group who are vulnerable to false or inaccurate claims made by medical specialists or practitioners of various therapies. This survey analysed 112 acupuncture websites for claims made relating to fertility and IVF,  and found all but one sadly lacking in accuracy and correct representation of research findings and appropriate clinical therapies. This website however, was found to be balanced and reasonable in its representation of Chinese medicine treatment of fertility and IVF patients based on research findings.

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Chinese herbal medicine for female infertility: an updated meta-analysis

Acupuncture-Pregnancy-320Reid K, Comp Ther Med, 2015 Feb;23(1):116-28

Complementary Therapies in Medicine


Chinese medicine compares very favourably with pharmaceutical treatment for infertility according to this meta-analysis, which summarises the findings of 40 trials involving more than 4000 patients. The author concludes that management of female infertility with Chinese herbal medicine can improve pregnancy rates 2-fold within a 3-6 month period compared with Western medical fertility drug therapy.


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Traditional Chinese Medicine for Diminished Ovarian Reserve: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Tian Xia et al, Chinese Herbal Medicines

Volume 6, Issue 2, May 2014, Pages 93-102
Women with raised FSH levels are generally not good candidates for IVF. This review analysed results from 17 trials that examined the effect of Chinese herbal medicine in reducing FSH levels and supporting subsequent IVF cycles. Chinese herbal medicine was found in this review to be superior to pharmaceutical treatment and the effect lasted longer.

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Acupuncture and women’s health: an overview of the role of acupuncture and its clinical management in women’s reproductive health

Cochrane S et al, March 2014 Volume 2014: 6 Pages 313—325
International Journal of Women’s Health

In one of the most thorough and balanced reviews to date, a team of researchers from Australia analyse acupuncture and fertility trials from more than 100 reports from around the world. They note that while many trials have looked at acupuncture performed on the day of embryo transfer in IVF cycles, few have looked at how Chinese medicine is usually practiced, and has been practiced for many hundreds of years, in the treatment of infertility in general. They point out that the majority of trials on IVF patients using acupuncture (that did not use sham needling as a control) report increased pregnancy and/or live birth rates. There is also good evidence of the effect of acupuncture on menstrual health in general, but more needs to be done examining the treatment of infertility with individualised chinese medicine protocols.

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The Effects of Acupuncture on Rates of Clinical Pregnancy among Women undergoing In Vitro Fertilization: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Manheimer E et al, Hum. Reprod. Update (2013) online doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmt026 Human Reproduction Update
The latest metaanalsyis confirms the suspicion emerging from the last few years of research into the effect of acupuncture applied on the day of embryo transfer, that it confers an advantage particluarly for those patients who's chance of success with IVF is not high.


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