Acupuncture and IVF
Sadly difficulties can occur for the healthiest of couples – for some this can happen when they try for their first baby, termed primary infertility, and others may have difficulty conceiving again, termed secondary infertility. Both causing stress and sadness.
There is a mountain of information available explaining the causes of, and treatment for, infertility. The volume of information can be totally overwhelming and having worked in this field for 25 years I know how daunting this can be. My focus is to help you navigate this information, whilst working alongside any medical fertility treatment you may be receiving, in order to provide the best possible care.
If medical intervention is necessary I frequently support and treat patients alongside Assisted Fertility Techniques (ART), including:
- Stimulated cycles
- Frozen Embryo Transfer
- Egg donation
- Sperm donation
- All other ART treatments
More and more studies are supporting the efficacy of acupuncture in this area:
- In 2002, the Paulus Study examined the effect of acupuncture treatment alongside IVF and found a 42.5% pregnancy rate in the group of women who receive acupuncture before and after IVF, compared to a pregnancy rate of 26.3% in those women who simply underwent IVF
- In 2016, research at Homerton Hospital demonstrated that acupuncture treatment alongside IVF doubles a women’s chances of having a baby
- In October 2018, a comprehensive systematic meta-analysis compared trials that treated patients with acupuncture during in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in comparison to routine IVF and ICSI treatment with no acupuncture. The meta-analysis indicated that acupuncture treatment may be beneficial in IVF/ICSI for improving the clinical pregnancy, implantation and live birth outcomes
- In November 2018 the British Acupuncture Council produced a briefing paper on acupuncture and IVF to provide a comprehensive review of the current research in this area. The main points were:
- A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis found acupuncture to have a significant treatment effect in improving the birth rates of subfertile women undergoing IVF or ICSI
- A summary of previous reviews from 2009 to 2017 found acupuncture had a beneficial treatment effect on clinical pregnancy rate
- They recommend that future research should explore the impact of acupuncture administration during ovarian stimulation to improve embryo and blastocyst quality
- Acupuncture may be a suitable treatment option to help reduce stress and anxiety levels for women suffering with subfertility
- Whilst more high quality research is needed, current research supports the findings that acupuncture during an IVF or ICSI cycle, with increased frequency during ovarian stimulation and at the time of transfer, can have a statistically positive treatment effect on clinical pregnancy and live birth rate
These research papers highlight the benefit of including acupuncture in any treatment plan. This evidence is supported by the fact that more and more fertility clinics advocate the use of acupuncture alongside assisted fertility treatment.
Based in Fulham, London, Justine is an acupuncturist and women's health expert with 25 years' experience. She specialises in all aspects of women's health from adolescence to post-menopause.
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