Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer: a randomized controlled trial of 635 patients

Andersen D et al, Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 2010, 21, 3, 366-372
Reproductive BioMedicine Online

This large RCT conducted in Denmark found no difference in pregnancy rates in IVF patients given acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer with a real acupuncture needle or those given acupuncture with a placebo needle which just pricked the point rather then penetrated it.

As with other trials mentioned above there is an understanding now that such a placebo is not inert, and in trials such as this one a control group of women who have usual care would be useful.


This prospective, randomized, controlled and double-blinded trial studied whether acupuncture in relation to embryo transfer could increase the ongoing pregnancy rates and live birth rates in women undergoing assisted reproductive therapy. A total of 635 patients undergoing IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) were included. In 314 patients, embryo transfer was accompanied by acupuncture according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. In the control group, 321 patients received placebo acupuncture using a validated placebo needle. In the acupuncture group and the placebo group, the ongoing pregnancy rates were 27% (95% CI 22–32) and 32% (95% CI 27–37), respectively. Live birth rates were 25% (95% CI 20–30) in the acupuncture group and 30% (95% CI 25–30) in the placebo group. The differences were not statistically significant. These results suggest that acupuncture administered in relation to embryo transfer has no effect on the outcome of IVF and ICSI.