Acupuncture for In Vitro Fertilization?

Getting Acupuncture May Improve the Odds of IVF Success

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on February 07, 2008

Feb. 7, 2008 -- The odds of getting pregnant and having a baby through in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be higher if women get acupuncture right before or after IVF.

That's the bottom line from a new review of seven studies on the topic.

The findings are "significant and clinically relevant" but "still somewhat preliminary," write the reviewers, who can't promise IVF success from acupuncture.

Together, the reviewed studies included 1,366 women in four Western countries.

In all of the studies, some women got traditional acupuncture right before and/or right after receiving the IVF embryo transfer. For comparison, other women got sham acupuncture or no acupuncture.

Among women who got acupuncture and IVF, the rates of getting pregnant were 65% higher and the rates of live births were nearly twice as high than among women who got IVF with sham acupuncture or no acupuncture.

But keep those numbers in perspective. The reviewers estimate that 10 IVF patients would need to be treated with acupuncture to bring about one additional pregnancy.

However, the reviewers note that in vitro fertilization is expensive and can be stressful, and that serious side effects from acupuncture are rare.

The reviewers included Eric Manheimer, MS, a research associate at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland's medical school.

The review appears in the "online first" edition of BMJ, formerly called the British Medical Journal.

(If you've had IVF, did you try acupuncture with it? Why or why not? Tell us about it on the Trying to Conceive: Infertility Treatment Support Group.)