Get Needled

A report published in February 2008 states that acupuncture, the traditional Chinese treatment that involves placing needles into specific points of the body, appears to improve the rates of pregnancy following in vitro fertilization (IVF). Seven clinical trials of acupuncture as an adjunct to IVF treatments have been reviewed leading to the conclusion that acupuncture can increase the likelihood that IVF will result in a viable pregnancy. Overall, some 10-15% of all couples experiencing fertility issues and will go on to seek assistance from a fertility specialist. IVF is one of the many treatments that can help a couple to conceive a child.

Retrieved and Fertilized

During in vitro fertilization, a woman's eggs are retrieved and fertilized in a laboratory. Then, some embryos are transferred back to the woman's uterus. This is a costly, long procedure that is fraught with stress and emotion. The researchers of this newest study feel that the identification of any complementary procedure that would improve the success rate of IVF would be a happy development for both patients and their health care providers.

Establish a Backbone

Lead study author Eric Manheimer from the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Integrative Medicine, along with his colleagues, undertook to make a systematic review of acupuncture as an additional and helpful therapy to use with in vitro fertilization. In Chinese medicine, the use of acupuncture has been used for hundreds of years for the purpose of regulating the female reproductive system.

In order to establish a backbone for this study, the scientists looked at the results of seven clinical trials of acupuncture administered to women who were undergoing IVF treatment. The researchers looked to see if the rates of pregnancy were higher in women who were treated with acupuncture. The data was from a very wide pool of more than 1366 women and researchers were able to compare women who received acupuncture within 24 hours of embryo transfer, women who underwent sham or placebo acupuncture, and women who received just the IVF with no additional complementary therapies.

The reviewers found unequivocal evidence that when acupuncture is administered as a complement to IVF treatment, the odds of reaching the goal of pregnancy is increased. The data uncovered during this review suggests that an additional pregnancy results for every 10 women who undergo the IVF procedure along with complementary acupuncture. The researchers feel that these preliminary findings are promising to the point of making further clinical trials a necessary next step in improving IVF success rates.


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