Does acupuncture really help IVF or ICSI?

IVF is a costly treatment option for women, their partners, and the public. Therefore new therapies that improve reproductive and health outcomes are highly desirable. There is a growing body of research evaluating the effect of acupuncture administered during IVF, and specifically on the day of embryo transfer (ET). Many trials are heterogeneous and results inconsistent. There remains insufficient evidence to determine if acupuncture can enhance live birth rates when used as an adjunct to IVF treatment.

To conduct a systematic review with meta-analysis of the trials of acupuncture during in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatment on the outcomes of clinical pregnancy, biochemical pregnancy, ongoing pregnancy, implantation rate, live birth, and miscarriage,Chinese Zhejiang university has done a research about this.

Their search was conducted by using MEDLINE(), SCISEARCH, the Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group trials register, AMED, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, EMBASE, Wanfang Database, China Academic Journal Electronic full text Database in China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Index to Chinese Periodical Literature, ISI Proceedings for conference abstracts, and ISRCTN Register and Meta-register for randomized controlled trials.

They have found that--- No significant benefits of acupuncture are found to improve the outcomes of IVF or ICSI.

The data from this meta‐analysis suggests that acupuncture does increase the live birth rate with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment when performed around the time of embryo transfer. However, this could be attributed to placebo effect and the small number of trials included in the review. Larger studies are necessary to confirm the results. Acupuncture may have potential harmful effects in early pregnancy and hence clinicians should be cautious when giving advice regarding the use of acupuncture in early pregnancy.
Reference:Qu F, Zhou J, Ren RX.J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Apr 27.