The aim of the present study was to evaluate the influence of acupuncture on pregnancy rate in assisted reproduction therapy (ART) by comparing two groups with/without acupuncture treatment shortly before and after embryo transfer.
Prospective randomized study.
138 patients undergoing ART (ICSI, IVF) in our fertility centre were included in this study. Only patients with good embryo quality were admitted. They were divided into two groups by random numbers. Acupuncture was performed in 69 patients 25 minutes before and after embryo transfer. Before embryo transfer we used the following locations: Cx 6 (Neiguan), Sp8 (Diji), Liv3 (Taichong), Gv20 (Baihui), S29 (Guilai). After embryo transfer the sterile disposable stainless steel needles (0.25 × 25 mm) were inserted at the following points: S36 (Zusanli), Sp6 (Sanyinjiao), Sp10 (Xuehai), Li4 (Hegu). After 10 min the needles were rotated in order to maintain Deqi sensation. Additionally we used small stainless needles (0.2 × 13 mm) for auricular acupuncture at the following points without rotation: ear point 55 (shenmen), ear point 58 (zhigong), ear point 22 (Neifenmi), ear point 34 (Naodian). In the control group (n = 69) embryos were transferred without any supportive therapy. Covariate variables like age, number of previous cycles, number of transferred embryos, endometrial thickness, plasma estradiol, method of treatment, blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries or clinical indications for ART didn’t differ between both groups. The main outcome measure was clinical pregnancy defined by the presence of a fetal sac at ultrasound examination 6 weeks after embryo transfer. The Chi-square test was used for comparison of both groups.
Results: Clinical pregnancies were documented in 30 of 69 patients (43.5%) after embryo transfer supported by acupuncture, whereas the pregnancy rate only reached 26.1% (18 out of 69 patients) after embryo transfer without acupuncture (Chi-square test: P = 0.03).
Conclusions: Acupuncture seems to be a powerful tool to improve pregnancy rate in assisted reproduction therapy (ART).