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Acupuncture for reproductive outcome in infertile women

Acupuncture has been given great attention in light of scientific research, since the beginning of the millennium, and current integration in different countries outside of Asia, including countries like the US, UK, Germany, Austria, Australia and Israel, with modern medical practice in the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including infertility.

The mechanisms through which acupuncture influence female fertility was studied thoroughly since the early 2000. It’s believed to involve central stimulation of B-endorphin secretion and gonadotrophin and steroid secretion, and a general sympathoinhibitory effect through increased blood flow to the uterus and ovaries resulting in uterine conditions favoring implantation (1).

Many reports in the literature claim positive effects of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility and it the last decade with more satisfy and rigorously clinical studies. Acupuncture treatment administered on the day of Embryo Transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) or in intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatment for infertility (1).

These findings were published in 2006 in the respected Fertility and Sterility journal (impact factor 6.7)

In May, 2024 a Systematic review and Meta analysis was published in the journal of integrative and complementary medicine to investigate the impact of the timing and dosage of acupuncture on pregnancy outcomes and the relationship between dosage and effect for women undergoing IVF and embryo transfer.

A total of 38 randomized clinical trials involving 5,991 participants were analyzed. In infertile women undergoing IVF fresh cycles, acupuncture performed during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) significantly increased the clinical pregnancy rate, whereas acupuncture administered either before hyperstimulation or on the day of embryo transfer did not demonstrate reproductive benefits. Regarding frozen cycles, acupuncture before freeze-thaw embryo transfer (FET) significantly enhanced the clinical pregnancy rate and live birth rate. In general improvements in clinical pregnancy rate were observed across all dosage groups, but only the high-dosage group showed a significant increase in live birth rate.

The researcher’s conclude that higher dosages of acupuncture were linked to more favorable outcomes. As well, timing and dosage of acupuncture are crucial factors affecting pregnancy outcomes in IVF. For women undergoing IVF fresh cycles, acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) yielded more significant reproductive benefits (2).

Sources:

  1. Westergaard LG, Mao Q, Krogslund M, et al. Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: A prospective, randomized trial. Fertil Steril 2006;85(5):1341–1346.
  2. The Timing and Dose Effect of Acupuncture on Pregnancy Outcomes for Infertile Women Undergoing In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Xia Wang, Hong-mei Xu, Qiao-ling Wang, Xin-yun Zhu, Ya-min Zeng, Li Huang, Xin Feng, and Shuai Chen

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