Acupuncture increases the success rates of IVF and ICSI
Most couples are advised to try in vitro fertilisation (IVF). IVF was originally designed for women with absent, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. However, today it is used for a variety of other fertility problems.
The success rates of IVF are below 50%, depending on the age of the woman. This is because the underlying gynaecological problems haven’t been treated before an IVF cycle is started. Therefore, treating the underlying problems before starting an IVF cycle increases the success rates and reduces the risk of complications later on, for example miscarriages or foetal growth rate problems.
IVF is essential a numbers game. Ideally, an IVF cycle will want to produce around a dozen good quality eggs at retrieval. Some of my patients retrieved more eggs than this, but it's not a good thing.
More than a dozen will dilute the quality of the eggs, as there is only so much energy and blood to go around, like spreading butter thinly on a large piece of toast. Also more than a dozen eggs could lead to hyperstimulation (OHSS), which is a serious problem. Less than a dozen collected generally means a physical deficiency of some type, i.e. blood, yin, jing or qi.
The day an egg is put back in can affect the success of the IVF cycle. Generally a fertilised egg is put back in from 1-5 days. Around 30% of eggs on day 3 on't live to day 5, so transferring a day 5 fertilised embryo, a blastocyst, greatly improves success rates, as it's stronger and more likely to implant.
Having 9 sessions of acupuncture before IVF and then on the day of the transfer has been shown to increase the success rates of IVF by up to 50%! Acupuncture has also been shown to improve male fertility by improving sperm quality, thereby benefiting IVF when intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is used.
Benson, et al. (2006) Impact of acupuncture before and after embryo transfer on the outcome of in vitro fertilization cycles: A prospective single blind randomized study. Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 86, Issue 3, S135.
Dieterle, et al. (2006) Effect of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study. Fertility and Sterility Vol. 85, No. 5.
Isoyama et al. (2013) Influence of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilisation when embryo implantation has failed: a prospective randomised controlled clinical trial. Acupunct Med; 31:157–161.
Jo, et al. (2017). Effectiveness of acupuncture in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome undergoing in vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupunct Med.
Magarelli, et al. (2008) Changes in serum cortisol and prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer treatment. Fertil Steril; 92(6): 1870-9.
Magarelli et al. (2009) Changes in serum cortisol and prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer treatment. Fertil Steril; 92:1870–9.
Quintero et al. (2004) A Randomized, Controlled, Double-Blind, Cross-Over Study Evaluating Acupuncture as an Adjunct to IVF. Glendale Adventist Medical Center (GAMC) and the Eastern Center for Complementary Medicine. Fertility & Sterility; Vol. 81, Suppl. 3.
Zhang, et al. (2011) Increase of success rate for women undergoing embryo transfer by transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation: a prospective randomized placebo-controlled study. Fertility and Sterility Volume 96, Issue 4, 912-916.