Acupuncture to support IVF
Acupuncture treatments for general fertility assistance are of such benefit to couples trying to conceive that it is no surprise that acupuncture can be used as a support treatment to assisted reproductive techniques.
Chinese medicine says that the balance between yin and yang and the nourishment and flow of the qi and blood all need to be nurtured, harmonised and supported to encourage successful conception, implantation and a healthy ongoing pregnancy. So to achieve this, Chinese medicine can be used to address these imbalances. It is no surprise, then, that using acupuncture in the lead-up to, and during, an IVF cycle can have such a positive influence on the outcome.
Clinical trials and studies on acupuncture and IVF
Over the last few years, numerous studies have been conducted on using acupuncture with IVF. Overall, these trials have shown that, not only can acupuncture improve your physical and emotional health throughout an IVF cycle, but it can actually increase your chance of success.
Acupuncture treatments, specifically treatments done at the time of transfer, have been shown to improve implantation rates of IVF embryos. Studies also suggest that acupuncture before and during medicated phases of your IVF cycle helps to increase the chance of success at transfer.
Not surprisingly, studies almost always comment on the ability of acupuncture to decrease stress and anxiety levels during the IVF process.
A quick note on recent research
Although earlier systematic reviews found that evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture used to support IVF or other assisted reproductive technology was “unclear”, a more recent systematic review by Qian et al found that “Based on an analysis of the studies, acupuncture improves the CPR [clinical pregnancy rate] among women undergoing IVF.”
Acupuncture improves clinical pregnancy rates in women undergoing IVF. Optimal positive effects were seen when acupuncture was used during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation. (Qian 2016 – SR of 30 RCTs & MA)(119)
Acupuncture may increase the clinical pregnancy rate and ongoing pregnancy rate and decrease the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in women with PCOS undergoing IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (Jo 2017 – SR of 4 RCTs & MA)(120)