Effect of acupuncture on assisted reproduction treatment outcomes

Madaschi C et al, Acupunct Med 2010;28:180-184 Acupuncture in Medicine (BMJ)
This trial conducted in Brazil looked at the effect of acupuncture administered before and after embryo transfer on a large group of women undergoing IVF (208 women in both the acupuncture and the control group). They found an increase in implantation rates, and a significant increase in pregnancy rates where there was no known issue with egg or sperm quality in the acupuncture group. However analysis of all cases together showed no impact of acupuncture on pregnancy rates.



Background: Acupuncture has recently been used as a complementary technique in the management of infertility. It has physiological and psychological effects and may be considered an alternative for stress reduction in women undergoing infertility treatments.

Objective: To examine the hypothesis that acupuncture treatment may increase the pregnancy rate in patients undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles.
Methods Patients enrolled in the study were stratified according to age and randomised to either a control group (n=208) or acupuncture group, (n=208). The pregnancy, implantation and abortion rates of the two groups were compared.

Results: No influence of acupuncture treatment on clinical outcomes was seen; however, when cycles in which the causes of infertility were exclusively tubal-uterine or idiopathic were evaluated separately, a positive influence of acupuncture on pregnancy (OR=5.15, 95% CI 1.03 to 34.5; p=0.048) was noted. Moreover, trends toward an increase in implantation were seen when acupuncture was performed (regression coefficient: 0.645; p=0.092).

Conclusion: The results suggest that acupuncture treatment had no influence when performed immediately before and immediately after embryo transfer, on clinical outcomes overall. In a subgroup analysis, when the embryo was not affected by an ovarian or seminal influence, a benefit was noted.