Acupuncture and in vitro fertilization: a retrospective chart review.

Hullender R et al J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Jul;19(7):637-43.
Jnl Alternative and Complementary Medicine

In this observational study, women receiving embryos from donor eggs, were given acupuncture on the day of transfer, and live birth rates were compared with a similar control group. 87% of the women who received donor egg embryos and had acupuncture had a baby compared with 66% in the donor group that did not have acupuncture. This result needs to be tested in a RCT setting.


Objectives: In 2007, Craig et al. reported the results of a randomized controlled trial in which a standardized acupuncture protocol performed on the day of embryo transfer (ET) resulted in lower pregnancy rates after in vitro fertilization (IVF). Between 2005 and 2007, the Craig protocol was used by one of the authors (LHR) at an infertility clinic unaffiliated with the Craig et al. trial. The objective was to retrospectively review clinic records to evaluate the effect of the Craig protocol in both donor and nondonor IVF cycles on four outcomes: (1) live births; (2) biochemical pregnancies; (3) adverse outcomes; and (4) live births in nondonor cycles across age groups established by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

Design: The study design was a retrospective chart review.

Setting: The study was conducted at a private infertility clinic.

Patient(s): Patients underwent fresh, donor (N=70) or nondonor (N=402) IVF-ET.

Intervention(s): The Craig protocol included the following points before ET: GV-20, CV-6, ST-29, SP-8, PC-6, LV-3; Shenmen and Brain on the left ear; and Uterus and Endocrine on the right ear. After transfer the points were LI-4, SP-10, ST-36, SP-6, KI-3; Uterus and Endocrine on the left ear; and Shenmen and Brain on the right ear.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Live births (LB) beyond 24 weeks’ gestation was the main outcome measure.

Result(s): In nondonor IVF cycles, there were no differences in LB across age groups (odds ratio [OR]=1.04, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.68-1.57), biochemical pregnancies (OR=0.60, 95% CI 0.27-1.33), or adverse outcomes (OR=0.63, 95% CI 0.31-1.26). In donor cycles, LB were higher in the acupuncture group (relative risk=1.31, 95% CI 1.02-1.71).

Conclusions: In this observational study, the Craig protocol was not found to lower IVF LB. In fact, the Craig protocol was associated with higher LB in donor cycles. These findings should be considered cautiously because more adequately powered, randomized research is needed.