A randomly selected and controlled trial found that acupuncture improved pregnancy rates in women who had acupuncture before and on the day of embryo transfer compared to a similar group of women who did not have acupuncture. This trial did not use sham acupuncture as a control, but rather used “usual care” as a control. This trial also showed a reduced anxiety level in the women who had acupuncture.
Infertility affects 10–15% of pairs. Fifteen percent of them are of idiopathic origin. The development of assisted reproduction techniques (ART) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) has provided important contributions to infertility treatment, but pregnancy rates have not yet reached the desired levels. This has led infertile patients to seek for help from CAM. Acupuncture is the most widely used of these methods.
This study aimed to investigate the effect of acupuncture on pregnancy success rates applied before and after embryo transfer (ET) in idiopathic IVF patients. Our study was conducted between December-2017 and May-2018 on women aged 23–45 years, who received IVF treatment due to idiopathic infertility. A total of 72 infertile women were randomized to acupuncture (AG; n = 36) and control group (CG; n = 36). Three sessions of acupuncture were applied to AG, first one week before ET, second 30 minutes before ET, and third 30 minutes after ET. CG received no acupuncture. Beta-HCG levels were assessed for conception 12 days after ET. Additionally, STAI-1 state anxiety scale was administered before and after ET to measure anxiety levels in both groups.
The mean age o was 30.9 ± 3.7 years. Positive Beta HCG was detected in 63.9% (n = 23) of the AG and 33.3% (n = 12) of CG (p = 0.009). There was no difference between the groups concerning pre-ET anxiety scores (p > 0.05). STAI-1 score was 57.3 ± 9.8 before ET whereas it was 36.1 ± 6.3 after applying acupuncture in AG (p < 0.001).
It was observed that three sessions of acupuncture before and after ET significantly increased the pregnancy rates in women with idiopathic infertility. It was also found that acupuncture significantly reduced pre-ET stress levels. Acupuncture has advantage of not having any side effects and less cost compared to other treatments providing additional benefits by reducing stress levels, a factor negatively affecting fertility.