Researchers at the Center for Integrative Medicine, at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, conducted a meta-analysis of several research studies on the effects of acupuncture on IVF outcomes. (A meta-analysis is a research study that gathers information from several studies and evaluates them together.) The meta-analysis considered seven trials, which all together included 1,366 women.
The researchers found that when acupuncture took place on the day of embryo transfer, statistically significant improvements were found in the rates of clinical pregnancies, ongoing pregnancy, and live births. They also found that 10 woman would need to be treated with IVF and acupuncture to see one additional pregnancy.
In another study, often referred to as the “German study,” a German fertility clinic offered 160 IVF patients who had good-quality embryos an opportunity to participate in a study on acupuncture and IVF outcomes. Half of the patients received acupuncture treatment, 25 minutes before and after embryo transfer. The control group did not receive any supportive therapy.
In the acupuncture group, 34 of the 80 patients got pregnant. In the control group, 21 out of 80 got pregnant.
There have been a number of other, smaller sized research studies on acupuncture and fertility. Because of their small size, the results of these studies are controversial. Just a few of the possible connections between acupuncture and fertility found in the smaller studies:
- Acupuncture may improve sperm quality and counts in infertile men.
- Acupuncture may improve the lining of the endometrium, including increased the blood flow to the uterus.
- Acupuncture may help regulate hormone levels, specifically gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which in turn may improve ovulation rates.
- Acupuncture may help women with PCOS and anovulatory cycles.
- Acupuncture may help those with thyroid problems. (And problems with the thyroid can lead to problems with fertility.)
- Acupuncture may increase the number of follicles produced during an IVF treatment.