Use of Acupuncture before and after embryo transfer
Nick Dalton-Brewer, David Gillott, Nataly Atalla, Mohamed Menabawey, Pauline Wright, & Alan Thornhill
The London Bridge Fertility, Gynaecology and Genetics Centre, London, UK
All IVF cases in which acupuncture was administered before and after embryo transfer at a large private infertility centre were reviewed for a 2 year period. All patients were treated by the same practitioner (NDB) using Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCA). Patients received acupuncture to the protocol developed by Paulus, W.E., Zhang, M., Strehler, E., El-Danasouri, I., & Sterzik, K. (2002). Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertility & Sterility, 77, 721–724: Liver 3, Spleen 8, Stomach 29, Pericardium 6, GV 20 were manually stimulated five times over a 40-min period, at Bridge, approximately 10–20 minutes prior to embryo transfer. Embryo transfer was carried out under ultrasound guidance as per routine at Bridge. Ten minutes following embryo transfer acupoints Spleen 6, Stomach 36, Spleen 10, Large Intestine 4 were manually stimulated five times over a 40-min period before discharging the patient. Ear points 34, 55 and 58 were used in both treatments and not stimulated.
A total of 71 patients underwent 74 cycles involving acupuncture before and after embryo transfer.
Overall, positive pregnancy rates/ET were 44.6% comparing favourably with the non-acupuncture historic control group.
When analysed by maternal age at time of treatment, biochemical pregnancy results for acupuncture treated women were as follows: <35 years−52%; 35–39 years – 45%; 40–45 years – 35%.
Results for women aged 35–39 years and those over 40 years were markedly better than controls suggesting that acupuncture intervention of this type may be more effective in older women. No side effects or complications were experienced by women receiving acupuncture. Acupuncture is a safe, adjunct therapy in IVF and in other randomised clinical trials has been shown to significantly improve outcomes when used at the IVF centre before and after embryo transfer. Our preliminary data are encouraging and suggest that a trial involving older women may be effective.