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Acupuncture improves fertility rates in women with high FSH levels

Patients planning to undergo IVF who met inclusion/exclusion criteria (age less 40 years old, FSH less 10mIU/mL, 3 prior failed IVF attempts, acupuncture naive) were randomly assigned to an acupuncture or sham treatment group.

Treatment sessions occurred before gonadotropin start, before oocyte retrieval, the day before embryo transfer, and the day after embryo transfer. Acupuncture was performed using manual manipulation at 6 to 10 points depending on the timing of the treatment. Sham treated patients had needles placed in non-meridian points at a shallow depth.

Patients were also given a questionnaire to guess their group assignment. Data was analyzed using chi-squared for dichotomous outcome variables (e.g. pregnancy rate) and t-tests for continuous outcomes (e.g. age). Sixty qualified patients were randomly assigned into either acupuncture (n¼31) or sham-control (n¼29) groups, with mean age of 32.4 and 33.2 respectively. 43 patients completed the study. The cancellation/drop-out rate was 29% in the acupuncture group (n¼9) and 27.6% in the control group (n¼8) (similar to cycle cancellation rate for the main recruitment center during this time period). There was no significant difference between groups regarding age or FSH. There was no significant difference in outcomes between acupuncture and control groups (clinical pregnancy rates per transfer 57.1% vs. 52.4%).

There was a trend towards a higher delivery rate per transfer in the acupuncture group (54.5% vs. 42.9%). Further subgroup analysis by FSH found a higher pregnancy rate with acupuncture in patient whose FSH was higher than the mean (7.0) (83.3 vs 33.3. P¼0.079).

Almost all the patients in both groups believed they were in the true acupuncture group. It is feasible to conduct a randomized, blinded, sham control trial to study the impact of acupuncture on IVF success rates. Preliminary data shows no significant difference between acupuncture and sham treatment groups.

Acupuncture was associated with a trend toward a higher delivery rate per transfer especially in those patients with an FSH level higher than the mean.


Udoff, et at (2014) The effect of acupuncture on pregnancy outcomes in in-vitro fertilization (IVF): a randomized controlled trial. Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 102, Issue 3, e333.