Does Acupuncture Help With IVF?
By Steven Clavey
Chinese doctors have known for centuries that acupuncture improves fertility. Studies suggesting that acupuncture could help with IVF success rates have been appearing over the last decade and more. One of the early clinical trials conducted at the University of Adelaide found higher pregnancy rates in women undergoing IVF when they also received acupuncture (Smith et. al., 2006). Around the same time, Danish researchers reported similar results, with an almost doubled pregnancy rate in those receiving acupuncture in conjunction with IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) compared with a control group (Westergaard et. al., 2006). These studies are now considered out-of-date by research standards, but their early suggestions have been supported by a number of systematic reviews and meta-analysis of many studies showing that acupuncture treatment improves the success rates for invitro fertilization (IVF) in many women [see research on acupuncture and IVF]. .
Acupuncture in the months leading up to an IVF cycle helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and balance hormone levels. By treating the root causes of infertility, some patients may even fall pregnant during this preparation time (a pleasant side effect when it happens!), while the chance of a successful IVF cycle is increased.
A course of acupuncture is generally 6 weekly treatments, with a break midway to allow the body to adjust. Further courses of treatment may be undertaken as needed, and the timing of treatments should be flexible during an IVF cycle to optimise results.
There is also early suggestions that using acupuncture in combination with other forms of Chinese Medicine treatment can add further benefits. (See the study here)
Early studies from:
Smith et. al., Journal of Fertility & Sterility 2006: 85; 135258
Westergaard et. al., Journal of Fertility & Sterility 2006: 85; 134146
Paulus et.al., Journal of Fertility & Sterility 2002: 77; 72124
Liang, L., Acupuncture & IVF, Boulder Blue Poppy Press, 2003