Acupuncture/ pressurePregnancy

Summarizing acupuncture’s effect on pregnancy 2006-2008

 Here’s a summary of reviews and research in this area of practice since the beginning of this blog.

I went back to each post on reviews and original research of acupuncture/pregnancy that appeared on this blog since 2006. The objective was to assess study size and conclusions based on the use of acupuncture.

University of Southampton, UK

  • 13 studies reviewed.
  • Acupuncture should not be offered during the luteal phase in routine clinical practice.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London

  • 13 studies in 2500 women
  • No difference in clinical pregnancy associated with acupuncture around the time of egg collection (5 study meta-analysis).
  • No difference in the clinical pregnancy rate around the time of embryo transfer (8 meta-analysis).
  • No significant increase in live birth rate around the time of embryo transfer (5 of 8 studies).

University of Maryland and Georgetown University School of Medicine in the US and University Amsterdam De Boelelaan, Netherlands

  • 7 studies of 1366 women
  • Significant improvements in clinical pregnancy, ongoing pregnancy, and live births when embryo transfer is combined with acupuncture.

Harvard Medical School, Boston

  • 150 women
  • No difference in the rate of pregnancy with acupuncture 25-minute treatment before and after embryo transfer.

Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey

  • 32 women
  • No improvement in pregnancy rates following in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer when acupuncture was performed twice weekly during the follicular and luteal phase.

Kaali Institute IVF Center, Budapest and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York

  • Combined results from 2 studies in 481 women
  • No difference in chemical, clinical pregnancy, and implantation rates with needle acupuncture, laser acupuncture, and sham laser acupuncture vs. no treatment.

Report of 3 studies

Fertility Clinic Trianglen, Hellerup, Denmark

  • 273 women
  • Significantly higher clinical and ongoing pregnancy rates with acupuncture immediately before embryo transfer vs before and 2 days later.

University of Witten/Herdecke in Dortmund, Germany

  • 225 women
  • A positive effect on clinical pregnancy rate and ongoing pregnancy rate with luteal-phase acupuncture.

University of South Australia

  • 228 women
  • No difference in pregnancy rate following 3 sessions: day 9 of stimulating injections, then second day before and the third day after transfer “according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine.”

The bottom line?
There appears to be a difference of opinion in the value of acupuncture as a complementary treatment during in vitro fertilization.

Studies tend to include large populations. And the quality of studies is generally good, permitting reviewers to assess the combined results (meta-analysis). However, reviewers from the US and Netherlands list many variables that might influence results and should be addressed in future studies.

  • Age
  • Diagnostic categories of infertility
  • Duration of infertility
  • Numbers of previous treatment cycles
  • Quality of embryos
  • Timing of the acupuncture sessions relative to embryo transfer

10/15/08 22:39 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.