Effect of acupuncture on assisted reproduction treatment outcomes

 Madaschi C et al, Acupunct Med 2010;28:180-184
Acupuncture in Medicine (BMJ)

This RCT 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 the acupuncture and 208 in the control group). All the embryos in this trial were created with ICSI, rather than IVF.

The trial found no impact of acupuncture on pregnancy rates. However they found a significant increase in pregnancy rates in the acupuncture group where there was no known issue with egg or sperm quality.


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.