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Acupuncture does not increase the chance of IVF success

19 July 2010

By Sarah Pritchard

Appeared in BioNews 567

Women given acupuncture during IVF treatment are no more likely to become pregnant than their counterparts who undergo needle stimulation to body areas not used in acupuncture, a US study has shown.

Dr Irene Moy and her team at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, gave 160 IVF patients either 'true' or 'sham' acupuncture before and after embryo transfer, and compared the outcomes. The women who underwent the sham procedure had a higher rate of pregnancy (52.7 per cent) than those who underwent the true procedure (45.3 per cent), although this difference was not statistically significant..

Despite showing a lack of evidence that it can improve outcomes, Dr Moy and her team reported that 'there were no significant adverse effects observed during the study, suggesting that acupuncture is safe for women undergoing embryo transfer'.

The British Fertility Society (BFS) has previously warned couples undergoing IVF that there is no evidence to show acupuncture increases the chance of getting pregnant. In a study by BFS researchers earlier this year of 2,000 people, no matter what stage the acupuncture was given, it made no difference to the pregnancy or live birth rate.

Professor Adam Balen, head of the BFS's policy and practice committee, said that there was 'a great deal of discrepancy' in the way trials were designed and the type of acupuncture used, and that IVF patients need to be aware of the lack of evidence on acupuncture before undergoing the treatment.

The British Acupuncture Council issued a statement in support of the therapy, saying 'fertility focused acupuncture treatment has been found to help increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, balance hormone levels, regulate the menstrual cycle and help improve the lining of the uterus and the quality of eggs released'.

However, Professor Edzard Ernst an expert in complementary medicine from Exeter University in England, called these latest studies 'long overdue clarification' that Chinese medicine cannot help infertile women get pregnant.

Of the BFS review, Dr Ernst said: 'Infertile women have been misled for some time now to think that traditional Chinese medicine can help them get pregnant'.

 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

11 April 2011 - by Sile Lane 
At The Fertility Show in November 2010 Nicola Smuts ran a busy booth offering advice for fertility problems. She spoke to couples about finding the optimum time for trying IVF, about sperm motility and morphology, and about number and condition of eggs. She says she has helped scores of women...
17 January 2011 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy 
Scientists have found that the health of infants born through IVF depends on which techniques were used and their infertility diagnoses....
20 September 2010 - by Harriet Vickers 
Women with poor egg (or oocyte) quality could double their chance of becoming pregnant through IVF if given melatonin, researchers have found. The work was presented at the World Congress of Fertility and Sterility in Munich last week...
02 August 2010 - by Nick Dalton-Brewer 
Sarah Guy's bold statement 'acupuncture does not increase the chance of IVF success' is based on the conclusions of a study which is arguably flawed in many ways...
26 July 2010 - by Dr Charlotte Maden 
A mathematical model for predicting a couple's chances of a successful pregnancy by IVF after one failed attempt has been developed by US researchers. The model is 1000 times more accurate at predicting a positive outcome than standard methods, which are mainly based on a woman's age. The model may help clinics give more personalised and reliable advice to couples...

15 March 2010 - by Dr Sophie Pryor 
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine do not provide any benefit to women trying to become pregnant, the British Fertility Society (BFS) has found after reviewing the available evidence. The new guidelines, published in the journal Human Fertility, state that there is 'currently no evidence' that these methods increase the success rate of assisted conception, when used in conjunction with IVF (in vitro fertilisation)....
29 September 2008 - by Katy Sinclair 
Researchers at the University of Southampton and Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton, UK, have found that women undergoing acupuncture at the same time as IVF increased their chances of having a baby from one in five to one in three. The research, published on the Cochrane Library's...
23 October 2007 - by MacKenna Roberts 
By MacKenna Roberts: Contrary to the widely held belief that acupuncture enhances a woman's chances of successfully becoming pregnant whilst undergoing IVF treatment, a study at the University of Oklahoma found that women who combine acupuncture and IVF were 37 per cent less likely to conceive than those who underwent...
22 April 2002 - by BioNews 
Research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility suggests that the use of acupuncture before and during IVF treatment may improve the chances of success. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical practice that is believed to stimulate the flow of energy throughout the body. The scientists, from the Christian-Lauritzen-Institut in...

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