Acupuncture benefits for IVF fertility

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Fertility rates during embryo transfer can be doubled with the use of acupuncture, a new study has found. The latest University of Adelaide trial contributes to a small but growing body of research that suggests acupuncture may help with improving pregnancy outcomes for people undergoing IVF treatment.

Dr Caroline Smith, who conducted the first single blind and controlled randomised acupuncture trial in the University of Adelaide fertility clinic Repromed, said: "Our study showed encouraging results with an increase in the pregnancy rate in the acupuncture group (31% versus 23% in the control group) among women having an embryo transfer."

This benefit was smaller than expected and did not differ statistically between the acupuncture and control groups. But when the study of 228 women was combined with the findings from three other acupuncture trials, involving a total of just under 800 women, the results clearly showed a pregnancy was twice as likely to occur in the acupuncture group compared to the control group.

"The good news of the acupuncture use in fertility therapy is the benefit is not affected by age, meaning all age groups showed the increase in IVF success rates from the acupuncture therapy," said Dr Smith.

Acupuncture is safe and no adverse effects were reported. Dr Smith said there were some research questions still to be answered and a larger study was required to confirm these findings and address outstanding questions.

"The important distinction between this acupuncture study and any previous studies is the very good research model used to develop the study design that addressed a major source of bias seen in previous studies known as the 'placebo effect'. We removed this source of bias by using the placebo acupuncture needle or a 'sham' needle."

Many women have turned to complementary medicine in the hope of reversing or at least ceasing their natural decline in fertility. Acupuncture therapy has shown to increase the blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus and hence increase the capacity for conception.

This indicative result is very good news for women who want to use acupuncture during embryo transfer to increase their pregnancy success rates. Dr Caroline Smith believes this warrants a further exploration of the clinical benefits the current studies present.

This research is published in Fertility and Sterility this month.


Contact Details

Dr Caroline Smith
Australian Centre for Natural Health and Wellness
Mobile: 0419 390 755

Professor Rob Norman
Professor of Reproductive & Periconceptual Medicine
Robinson Research Institute
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 8166
Mobile: 0450 840 245