acupuncture and IVF

With an estimated one in three women in the UK experiencing reproductive health issues, it’s unsurprising many turn to alternative fertility treatments available on the market.

Acupuncture is one treatment which claims to improve fertility and treat reproductive issues in a natural and safe manner. However, a new study has revealed acupuncture actually has no impact on the success of IVF.

Acupuncture study reveals just 0.5% difference in effectiveness

In order to determine how successful acupuncture is at boosting IVF success, a study provided women with both acupuncture treatment and a sham treatment to compare results. The sessions were provided prior to fresh embryo transfer, as well as on the actual day of the transfer.

It involved a total of 848 women from 16 different IVF centres in Australia and New Zealand. Some were given real acupuncture sessions, while others were given a sham acupuncture treatment. The sham sessions involved using non-invasive needles placed further away from true acupuncture points.

The study ran from June 2011 to October 2015 and interesting discovered just a 0.5% difference in effectiveness between the real and sham acupuncture sessions. It was revealed that 18.3% of the women who underwent true acupuncture, went on to have a live birth through IVF. However, those who were provided fake acupuncture had a 17.8% success rate.

The results of the study have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Conflicting evidence can prove confusing for patients

This latest study is sure to produce confusion in patients looking into acupuncture as a boost for fertility. While the results of this latest study show acupuncture does not improve live birth rates in IVF, previous studies have shown it can be effective at boosting fertility.

Indeed, this alternative therapy has been proven to have a positive impact on fertility. Largely, it has been shown to reduce stress, improve the lining of the womb and also increase blood flow to the womb. Patients also appear to undergo a Psycho-social benefit of acupuncture. This means they feel more relaxed and better about themselves after the sessions.

So, could acupuncture still be worthwhile?

Although it doesn’t appear to have a major impact on live birth rate success during IVF, that isn’t to say acupuncture can’t prove useful. The fact it relaxes patients prior to their fresh embryo transplant procedure can have a positive impact on its success. It can also have a positive impact on self-esteem, which can also help women undergoing IVF, who typically experience feelings of inadequacy and poor self-esteem.

As it’s a natural, alternative treatment, there are no risks involved. That is, of course, provided patients choose an experienced and qualified therapist. The practice also offers numerous other health benefits, so it certainly can’t hurt to give it a go.

All in all, while acupuncture doesn’t appear to improve live birth rate success, it has shown to have other benefits in terms of fertility. Therefore, it can prove useful, even if just to relax patients prior to the treatment.