A three-year research study indicates that acupuncture may double the chances of women getting pregnant using IVF.
Couples undergoing fertility treatment participated in the study, led by scientists at Homerton University Hospital. Those who received acupuncture achieved higher rates of pregnancy. Researchers studied 127 women between the ages of 23 and 43, who were on either their first or second round of IVF. Participants were divided into two groups; one received four acupuncture treatments while undergoing IVF, the other received none.
In results presented at the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology, the acupuncture group achieved pregnancy rates of 46.2% compared to 21.7% of pregnancy rates of those who did not have acupuncture.
“The results of this study imply acupuncture may be offered as a possible method of improving IVF outcome,” said researchers, while also suggesting that the placebo effect may have played a part. “The additional attention paid to the acupuncture group as opposed to controls may have had a positive psychological influence.”
Gynaecology consultant Stuart Lavery, who works at an IVF Clinic in London, offered his professional opinion on the results:”The placebo effect is very real and we see it in every branch of medicine. The power of the human mind to produce improvement is very real and everybody who works in medicine understands that.” He also agrees that the possibility of attention being paid to the patient could have had a positive effect. “Patients are looking for someone who can give them that time and listen to what’s going on in their lives, and that may have some therapeutic benefits.”
Placebo effects, and specifically the use of ‘sham acupuncture’ are areas Lavery also says are worth exploring in relation to IVF success rates. There exists a substantial amount of research in favor of sham acupuncture for a number of different health complaints.
This research into IVF contributes to a growing body of evidence that suggests acupuncture is a viable option for boosting the chance of pregnancy. As noted by the CDC in 2014, 3 out of the top ten busiest fertility clinics in the US offer acupuncture.
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