Does acupuncture improve IVF success rate?

A team of doctors from the University of Maryland and the University of Amsterdam have published a report in the British Medical Journal, claiming that acupuncture could increase IVF success rates by as much as 65 per cent.
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The team, led by researcher Eric Manheimer, reviewed seven different studies comprising trials involving 1,366 women undergoing IVF treatment. The women taking part in the trials were given acupuncture immediately before or immediately after the embryo was implanted in their womb. In all trials, the acupuncture protocol and selection of acupuncture points was designed for the sole purpose of improving rates of pregnancy. All trials used a fixed selection of acupuncture points for all patients for the sessions before and after embryo transfer.The team found that for every ten IVF cycles where acupuncture was used in this way, an additional pregnancy ensued. Taking all the information from the studies, the team concluded that women who had acupuncture in conjunction with IVF were 65 per cent more likely to have a successful embryo transfer, compared to those that had no treatment or were given fake acupuncture. The results were robust to sensitivity analyses on study validity variables.
Acupuncture is thought to increase blood flow to the uterus as well as stimulating the neurotransmitters that trigger production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormones, controlling women's ovulation: this is why it is potentially helpful to women undergoing IVF treatment. It has been used in Chinese medicine to regulate fertility for hundreds of years. The low cost of acupuncture treatments, when compared to the £4,000 to £6,000 cost of an IVF cycle means that it is potentially cost effective to introduce acupuncture alongside IVF.

The research, published on the Cochrane Library's online database, involved looking at 13 studies comprising 2,000 women worldwide, who underwent acupuncture at the same time as a course of IVF. 
Every year thousands of women undergo IVF, at a very high cost in a number of specialist clinic in London. Acupuncture, was found to significantly increase a woman's chance of successful embryo implantation when it was done at around the same time as the embryo transfer. However, the procedure was not found to have a similar effect if it was performed after the embryo transfer. 
Dr Ying Cheong, lead researcher of the study, stated that 'whether acupuncture helps women achieve a live birth is a controversial issue, and opinion has been divided upon it'. She added that the study shows 'that acupuncture performed at the right stage can have significant benefit. A woman who does so has a much greater chance of having a live birth than a woman who doesn't have acupuncture'. The study revealed that acupuncture around the time of embryo transfer ruled in a live birth rate of 35 per cent, as compared to 22 per cent without acupuncture. 
A lot more research is needed on this subject, so far the beneficial effect of acupuncture for IVF support seems to fall in 3 different categories:

1) Acupuncture is thought to increase blood flow into the pelvis, affecting the uterus and ovaries; a good blood supply is essential to function efficiently.
this increase in the blood flow could also explain the large number of woman who become more fertile and pregnant with acupuncture without the need for IVF or assisted pregnancy.
2) Acupuncture is thought to stimulate the neurotransmitters that trigger production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormones, controlling women's ovulation: this could also explain the beneficial effect of acupuncture on PCOS
3) the complexity of our stress responses and its potential impact on egg production, egg quality, subsequent embryo development and ultimate chances of conception is not fully understood. A recent study indicate that stress as no impact on IVF, but other studies show that women who o stress management courses before IVF increase their chances off success. Stress is also known for interfering with sperm countLogically, any steps toward reducing stress can only benefit outcome. Acupuncture has a profound effect on body and mind, and reduces stress effectively and rapidly. The question is should couples having IVF treatment make all efforts to reduce stress and improve their health? the answer is obvious, and acupuncture is a major factor in helping couple as a preparation for IVF and during the IVF cycle

Pj Cousin is a full member of the British Acupuncture Council and of the Unified Register of herbal Practitioners

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
is one of the oldest and most mysterious form of health care, the first book on this subject is about 2500 years old, and there are indications that the Chinese were already using a crude form of TCM 4000 years ago.
Today, this medical system is widely used in China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea and all around Asia; in China alone there are 2500 hospitals specialising in TCM. This complex medical system is taught in 30 Chinese universities, to thousands of students from 120 different countries.

Acupuncture at Cure By Nature
95 Replingham Road
London SW18 5LU

tel: 020 88751101

For a map
Click here

Appointment available Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays

Acupuncture London: fertility clinics of acupuncture and complementary medicine at 95 Replingham Road london SW18 5LU