The number of couples with reproductive problems is constantly growing. It is estimated that between 13-14% of the couples are affected. The progress of the medicine and the development of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) gave chance to many of them to have their own child. However, the success of so named assisted reproduction depends on many factors, including the overall health condition of the partners, their age, and the clinic that provides the procedure.
While it is true that IVF offers incredible possibilities for the couples, who’ve tried to have children for years without success, IVF is also a long, stressful and expensive process with no results guaranteed. In fact, only one third of the IVF trials lead to pregnancy and 22%- to live birth. That is the reason why different options that could increase the IVF success rate are being tested in various clinical trials. Alternative medicine also stands between them.
The role of acupuncture
A couple of independent clinical researches claim the positive outcomes for women undergoing IVF that receive acupuncture treatment in addition. A systematic review, based on seven different researches, centered on the role of acupuncture in women ( 1366 participants), using assisted reproduction techniques to conceive, demonstrated that acupuncture was indeed beneficial for such patients. Two main conclusions were made at the end of the analysis:
1. Rates of pregnancy were significantly increased in women, subjects to IVF, receiving adjuvant acupuncture therapy by the time of embryo transfer
2. Live birth percentage was also improved. Successful pregnancy achieved through IVF, does not exclude the possibility of miscarriage and that’s why this second marker is more significant.
Although alternative medicine is not widely recognized by many healthcare providers, the presence of scientific data claiming the advantages of acupuncture in women with reproductive issues, needing an IVF procedure, underlines the importance of its further investigation. As success rates of IVF are still low, harmless and accessible additional treatment like acupuncture that could improve them should not be underestimated.
1. Manheimer E1, Zhang G, Udoff L et al., Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis, BMJ. 2008 Mar 8;336(7643):545-9, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18258932
- Petrozza, J.C, Assisted Reproduction Technology, In vitro fertilization (IVF), Medscape, http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/263907-overview#a4