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Acupuncture improves IVF outcomes, but is not shown to change hormone production


Confirming the results previously reported by Paulus et al. in 2002 (1), our study reported in this issue of Fertility and Sterility (2) supports that acupuncture administered on the day of ET significantly enhances the success rate of IVF treatments. In our study, an additional session of acupuncture on ET day +2 (i.e., closer to the day of implantation) did not significantly affect the outcome but showed an insignificant increase in the rate of early pregnancy loss. Whether this implies a possible harmful effect of repeated acupuncture sessions (3) remains unanswered by the present study but might deserve further investigation.

The biological mechanisms through which acupuncture might enhance fertility remain unclear (4). In our study, we actually tried to monitor possible effects of acupuncture on ovarian and endometrial function by measuring E2, P, and placental protein 14 (PP14) in serum sampled on the day of oocyte retrieval, day of ET, and on day of ET +2 in the three study groups. The results of these analyses, which were not included in the original article, showed similar levels of hormones among the groups, indicating that the effects of acupuncture are not mediated by changes in ovarian or endometrial endocrinology (Table 1).