ART and acupuncture


According to new guidelines published in the journal Human Fertility, there is no evidence that use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine around the time of assisted conception will increase the success of the fertility treatment. There is no evidence that it is harmful either.

The British Fertility Society studied published results of research analyzing acupuncture and herbal medicine in conjunction with assisted reproductive techniques. They found no published randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine used in concert with fertility treatment. Therefore, the new guidelines conclude there is no evidence to support its use.

Regarding acupuncture, more structured analysis took place. They found 14 trials to study and divided them into three groups: 1) when acupuncture was given around the time of egg harvesting, 2) when acupuncture was administered on the day of embryo transplant, and 3) a dual treatment when acupuncture was done day of transplant and also 2-3 days later. They analyzed the subsequent live birth rate, clinical pregnancy rate and the miscarriage rate. For all three segments, there was no significant differences between the acupuncture groups and the control groups who received no alternative treatment. Here too, guidelines now state there is no evidence as to harm or benefit for the use of acupuncture.

They do acknowledge the number of variables with acupuncture in particular and made recommendations for future studies. Future research should try to study the placebo effect as well as treatment effect, as it could be that the added time and attention given to the patient produces a relaxation and confidence that may impact the pregnancy result.

Professor Adam Balen, Chair of the British Fertility Society’s Policy and Practice Committee explained, In the studies included in this analysis, there is a great deal of discrepancy in the experimental design and the acupuncture technique used. Any future randomized control trials in this area need to ensure that they sue a standardized acupuncture method, have a large sample size and include adequate controls to account for any placebo effects.”

Source: British Fertility Society, Medical News Today


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