Acupuncture At Embryo Transfer Increases Success Rates
A new meta analysis published in 2019 has found that acupuncture around embryo transfer increases success rates. This research looked at 20 trials and over 5000 women. The outcome showed that not only did success rates increase but the number of miscarriages decreased with the addition of acupuncture around embryo transfer.
Discussion of the finding of the meta analysis from 2019:
The search strategy identified 20 trials and 5130 women for inclusion in this review. A benefit from trials of acupuncture when administered within 1 day of embryo transfer increased clinical pregnancy, ongoing pregnancy and live births when compared with no adjunctive treatment. This was a clinically significant 30% increased chance of an improved reproductive outcome, however there was substantial heterogeneity. There was no evidence of an effect when acupuncture was compared with a sham control. There was evidence of fewer miscarriages when acupuncture was compared with no adjunctive treatment, but not when expressed as per pregnancy. Acupuncture-related side effects were reported in a small number of trials and are similar to those reported in trials in the general population (Witt et al., 2009), and during pregnancy (Park et al., 2014).
Success rates increase even more when acupuncture is added leading up to embryo transfer. This study by Dr. Lee Hullender Rubin is a great example of that. Patients in this study did acupuncture leading up to embryo transfer and including on the day of embryo transfer. The take away is acupuncture can help with your IVF cycle and it seems that increased dosage of acupuncture (and Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM) increases your chances of success. We recommend at least 9 treatments before embryo transfer.
Here is an excerpt from the book, Planting the Seeds of Pregnancy, an Integrative Approach to Fertility Care, written by Lora Shahine, MD from Pacific NW Fertility Specialists and Stephanie Gianarelli, LAc from our clinic, Acupuncture Northwest & Associates talking about acupuncture and TCM with IVF.
Let’s look at how TCM and ART work together. In preparation for ART, TCM is used to get both the man and the woman as healthy as possible to strengthen both eggs and sperm and get the woman prepared for pregnancy. During ART, TCM focuses on improving ART outcomes in many ways, like increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, assisting in follicular growth, and improving sperm parameters.
There is mounting evidence that acupuncture improves ART outcomes. In February 2015, researchers published a study on using all of Chinese medicine—not just acupuncture or herbs, but also lifestyle and nutrition suggestions—to improve IVF outcomes. They found that when “whole systems” TCM was used in conjunction with IVF, it was associated with more live births and fewer adverse outcomes. There was a 48.2% live birth rate in the IVF alone group vs. 50.8% in a group that just received acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer vs. 61.3% in the whole systems TCM group. Biochemical pregnancy rates were also lower in the whole systems TCM group (Hullender Rubin et al. 2015).