According to Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM), acupuncture is a way of balancing energy flow through pathways in your body known as meridians. It is achieved by inserting needles through the skin along these pathways.
There are numerous acupuncture protocols involving different acupuncture points at various IVF treatment intervals, including during ovarian stimulation and before and after embryo transfer.
There are two excellent overviews of our knowledge on the subject.
“Acupuncture performed around the time of embryo transfer: a systematic review and meta-analysis” by Professor Caroline Smith et al published in Reproductive Biomedicine in 2018 involved analysis of the 20 highest quality trials.
The primary outcome assessed was Clinical Pregnancy Rate (CPR), presence of a fetal heart beat on early ultrasound, but not Live Birth Rate (LBR). It concluded that “The findings suggest acupuncture may be effective when compared with no adjuvant treatment with increased CPR, but not an efficacious treatment when compared with sham controls.”
“Effect of Acupuncture on the Outcomes of Assisted Reproductive Technology: An Overview of Systematic Reviews”
by Jin Xi et al in 2018 in Evidence -Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and was a detailed examination
of 11 systematic reviews, and the primary outcomes were CPR and LBR.It concluded that “The evidence for acupuncture to treat couples with subfertilty undergoing ART remains unclear. Further research is needed, with high quality trials undertaken and reported.”
Whilst the ideal prospective Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to determine the impact of acupuncture on LBR has yet to be performed, acknowledged psychological benefits and the possibility of improvement of LBR, as well as the relatively low cost and lack of significant side-effects, make it an add-on worthy of consideration.