The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: A pilot study

Balk J et al, Compl Therapies in Clinical Practice 2010,16,154–157
Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice

A pilot study at a university IVF clinic in Pittsburgh investigated the relationship between acupuncture, stress and pregnancy rates in IVF patients. They cautiously concluded that a lower stress level may contribute to higher pregnancy rates and that acupuncture was associated with this result.

Abstract

The aim of this paper was to determine the effect of acupuncture on perceived stress levels in women on the day of embryo transfer (ET), and to determine if perceived stress levels at embryo transfer correlated with pregnancy rates. The study was an observational, prospective, cohort study based at the University IVF center.

Patient(s): 57 infertile patients undergoing IVF or IVF/ICSI.

Interventions(s): Patients were undergoing Embryo Transfer with or without acupuncture as part of their standard clinical care.

Main outcome measure(s): Perceive Stress Scale scores, pregnancy rates.

Result(s): women who received this acupuncture regimen achieved pregnancy 64.7%, whereas those without acupuncture achieved pregnancy 42.5%. When stratified by donor recipient status, only non-donor recipients potentially had an improvement with acupuncture (35.5% without acupuncture vs. 55.6% with acupuncture). Those who received this acupuncture regimen had lower stress scores both pre-ET and post-ET compared to those who did not. Those with decreased perceived stress scores compared to baseline had higher pregnancy rates than those who did not demonstrate this decrease, regardless of acupuncture status.

Conclusions(s): The acupuncture regimen was associated with less stress both before and after embryo transfer, and it possibly improved pregnancy rates. Lower perceived stress at the time of embryo transfer may play a role in an improved pregnancy rate.