Acupuncture/ pressureAnxiety (Panic)/DepressionPregnancyStress

Acupuncture and pregnancy rates following in vitro fertilization

Acupuncture appears to be a common complementary option in fertility clinics.

This study from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey concludes, “Acupuncture performed twice weekly during the follicular and luteal phase does not seem to improve pregnancy rates following in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer (IVF-ET).”

First, the details.

  • In 32 women, acupuncture was started biweekly from day 5 of the follicular phase through the luteal phase but not on the day of the transfer.
  • More information about the stages and phases of ovulation is here.
  • A control group received the same care without the acupuncture.

And, the results.

  • There were no differences in pregnancy rates between the groups.

The bottom line?
A Chinese language study published earlier this year reported that acupuncture in rats promoted implantation and development of embryos.

Also earlier this year, a review by researchers at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York suggested 4 possible mechanisms by which acupuncture could improve the outcome of IVF.

  • Modulating neurological and endocrine factors
  • Increasing blood flow to the uterus and ovaries
  • Modulating cytokines (regulatory proteins)
  • Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression

These authors concluded that more high-quality studies were needed.

There’s a need to develop techniques that will help increase pregnancy rates following IVF. The results of this study from Robert Wood Johnson suggest either that the effect of acupuncture is too subtle to be detected in this small group of women or that techniques in rats might not be transferred to humans easily.

10/17/07 20:57 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.