New Study Finds No Benefit of Acupuncture During IVF Treatments

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The stress and anxiety infertility causes can, at times, feel like as much of an issue as infertility itself. When you’re hyper-focused on having a baby, and going through incredibly difficult physical and medical intervention, you’re willing to do and try anything to increase your chances of success. Many well-meaning friends will offer suggestions on how to make your IVF treatments successful. There are also lots of personal anecdotes to be found on the internet. “I did this before my transfer and got pregnant right away!” One thing people claim is helpful is acupuncture. But a new study suggests that getting acupuncture during IVF treatments has no benefit on the outcome of the treatments.

The fertility study out of Australia shows that acupuncture is ineffective for IVF birth rates and the success of treatments.

The study, published in JAMA, followed 800 women in Australia and New Zealand undergoing acupuncture during their IVF cycles. Effects of the alternative medical treatment done before and after embryo transfer were studied by researchers from NICM Health Research Institute (NICM), Western Sydney University, Flinders University, UNSW Sydney, University of South Australia, University of Adelaide and Greenslopes Private Hospital.

The randomized clinical trial was performed at 17 fertility centers in Australia and New Zealand.

Between 2011 and 2015, 848 women undergoing IVF were given either acupuncture, or a sham acupuncture control. The sham control was a non-insertive needle placed away from any true acupuncture points. The results from the trial show no significant difference in successful treatment between the two groups.

The rate of live birth among women who received acupuncture was 18.3%. The rate of live birth in the sham control group was 17.8%.

Professor Caroline Smith, chief investigator and professor of clinical research at NICM, says, “In clinical practice acupuncture treatment is individualised with variation in dosing, including more frequent treatment prior to and during the IVF cycle — the lack of frequent treatments was a limitation of our trial.”

Professor Smith continues, “Although our findings do not support acupuncture as an efficacious treatment compared to sham, some studies suggest reproductive outcomes maybe improved when acupuncture is compared with no treatment.”

However, for a lot of women, acupuncture can relieve the stress and anxiety of undergoing IVF. It’s important to be as relaxed as possible during fertility treatments, and if acupuncture does that for you, then by all means, do it.

(Image: iStock/BLACKDAY)