Cork Natural Fertility Clinic

Recent Research on Acupuncture & IVF

Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K.

In an article published by W. Paulus, M. Zhang, I. El-Danasouri, E. Strehler and K. Sterzik titled,” Influence of Acupuncture on the Pregnancy Rate in Patients Who Undergo Assisted Reproduction Therapy,” appearing in the April 2002 issue of Fertility and Sterility, German researchers announced that they had increased the success rate by nearly 50 % in women undergoing in vitro fertilization. The researchers, led by Dr. Wolfgang E. Paulus and colleagues at the Christian-Lauritzen-Institut in Ulm, Germany, said they do not know why acupuncture works and plan to conduct more studies. “Acupuncture seems to be a useful tool for improving pregnancy rate after assisted reproductive techniques.” they wrote. “The analysis shows that the pregnancy rate for the acupuncture group is considerably higher than for the control group ( 42.5% versus 26.3%),” they wrote.
Working with a team at the Department of Chinese Medicine at Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, China, Paulus and colleagues tested 160 women undergoing in vitro fertilization. Half received the standard in vitro fertilization, while half were given acupuncture treatments before and after. “We chose acupuncture points that relax the uterus according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine,” they wrote. They said acupuncture can affect the autonomic nervous system-involved in the control of muscles and glands-and thus, theoretically, should make the lining of the uterus more receptive to receiving an embryo.
According to the report, about 26% of women who did not receive acupuncture became pregnant, compared with nearly 43% of women who underwent the traditional Chinese therapy before and after embryo transfer. There were no differences in age, number of transferred embryos, or the number of previous cycles between the two groups of patients. In this study, women received acupuncture along the spleen and stomach channels in an attempt to relax the uterus and improve the flow of energy to this region. They also received acupuncture needles in their ears to stabilize the endocrine system.
“The results demonstrate that acupuncture therapy improves pregnancy rate,” concluded Dr. Paulus and colleagues” However, more research is needed to determine whether the higher pregnancy rate among women receiving acupuncture was due to actual physiological or psychological effects,” they added. “If these findings are confirmed, they may help us improve the odds for our IVF patients,” Dr. Sandra Carson, president-elect of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, said in a prepared statement after the publication of this study in Fertility and Sterility.

PMID: 11937123 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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