Yang Wang et al, 2016, BMJ Acup Med, Vol 34, Issue 5
BMJ Acupuncture in Medicine
This prospective observational study (Level IV) from Beijing examined the effect of electro-acupuncture on women who were diagnosed with poor ovarian reserve, indicated by their baseline FSH level being elevated on Day 2 or 3 of their menstrual cycle, ie between and 11 and 40 mIU/ml.
After 12 weeks of treatment mean FSH levels dropped by nearly a half, a highly significant result. While no firm conclusions can be drawn at this stage, this result indicates that further research is warranted on larger numbers of patients to determine if electro-acupuncture is useful tool for women with low ovarian reserve.
Background Effective methods for the treatment of reproductive dysfunction are limited. Previous studies have reported that acupuncture can modulate female hormone levels, improve menstrual disorders, alleviate depression and improve pregnancy rates. However, studies of acupuncture for diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) are lacking.
Objective To carry out a prospective observational study aimed at assessing the effect of EA on the reproductive hormone levels of patients with DOR seeking fertility support and consider its safety.
Methods Eligible patients with DOR received EA for 12 weeks: five times a week for 4 weeks followed by three times a week for 8 weeks. The primary outcome was the change in mean follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level at week 12. Mean luteinising hormone (LH) and serum oestradiol (E2) levels, FSH/LH ratios and symptom scale scores were simultaneously observed.
Results Twenty-one patients with DOR were included in the final analysis. Mean FSH levels fell from 19.33±9.47 mIU/mL at baseline to 10.58±6.34 mIU/mL at week 12 and 11.25±6.68 mIU/mL at week 24. Change in mean FSH from baseline was −8.75±11.13 mIU/mL at week 12 (p=0.002) and −8.08±9.56 mIU/mL at week 24 (p=0.001). Mean E2 and LH levels, FSH/LH ratios and irritability scores were improved at weeks 12 and/or 24. Approximately 30% patients reported subjective increases in menstrual volume after treatment.
Conclusions EA may modulate reproductive hormone levels and the effects seem to persist for at least 12 weeks after treatment with no significant side effects. EA may improve the ovarian reserve of patients with DOR, though further research is needed.