To determine the effects of acupuncture treatment as an adjunctive therapy on the outcome of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and resultant pregnancies.
A retrospective analysis of 238 patients who underwent conventional IVF over a course of 2 years. Of these, 127 patients received acupuncture treatment during IVF, and 111 patients had IVF alone. Frozen cycles and donor egg cycles were excluded.
Materials and methods
Patients in the two treatment groups were matched in terms of age and diagnosis. The stimulation protocol consisted of oral contraceptive suppression for a month followed by Leuprolide acetate for down regulation. For controlled ovarian stimulation a combination of recombinant FSH and HMG preparation was used. A single acupuncturist administered the treatment. A minimum of two sessions were given 5 to 7 days prior to and on the day of embryo transfer. The results were then analyzed by Student’s t-test, Chi-square and McNemar’s test.
The two treatment arms were similar in terms of age and diagnosis. There were no differences between the two groups in terms of fertilization rate, pregnancy or implantation rates, and endometrial thickness on the day of HCG administration. The number of oocytes retrieved and the number of first trimester miscarriages were however significantly lower in the group receiving acupuncture (P<.001).
There were fewer first trimester miscarriages in the acupuncture group. This could be secondary to stress relief caused by the treatment as most patients expressed a sense of well-being and relaxation. It could also be related to improved uterine blood flow as previously reported.