IVF Support: Combining acupuncture with IVF 

Many health practitioners may recommend acupuncture as an adjunct treatment that may assist with IVF treatment. There is some research evidence that Chinese medicine treatment may assist in supporting specific fertility treatments, such as IVF, and there is also broad agreement by Chinese medicine practitioners and other health practitioners about acupuncture as an adjunct treatment for IVF.

Acupuncture used in conjunction with IVF, is an emerging field of research with improvements in the quality of research being continually focused on.

In recent years acupuncture has gained popularity amongst couples undergoing assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IUI and IVF.  This is mostly due to the increasing number of small but promising research studies (Smith C, Norman RJ, Westergard et al ) that were regarded as showing promising improvement in outcomes for couples undergoing these treatments.

Issues such, as low patient recruitment for studies as in those above is an area that needs to be improved upon.

As such early systematic reviews of research like that above found evidence to support the use of acupuncture with IVF as ‘unclear’.

In contrast to these findings, a more recent systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that Acupuncture improves the CPR (clinical pregnancy rate) in women undergoing IVF’. The review conducted by Qian et al in August 2016 and published in December of that year in Archives of Gynecology & Obstetrics, covered 30 trials with a total of 6344 participants.  

Another study from 2016, although not a systematic review or randomised controlled trial, was undertaken at the London Homerton University Hospital,  concluded that combining acupuncture with IVF more than doubled the clinical pregnancy rate.  The study of 127 women aged between 23 and 43 years of age on their first or second round of IVF, were grouped into an acupuncture group or non-acupuncture group.  Acupuncture was done before egg pick up, and before and after embryo transfer.  The acupuncture group had 46.2% conceive, whilst the non-acupuncture group had 21.7% conceive.

This study: Effect of acupuncture vs sham acupuncture with IVF , from 2018 concludes acupuncture does not help. However, the devil may be in the detail. My colleague Peter Kington, gives an insightful breakdown of this study and its findings of acupuncture for IVF.

As you can see, there is continuing research about how acupuncture can assist with the effectiveness of IVF treatment and you should consult your treating practitioner/s about how acupuncture may be able to help you.