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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 48-54

The impact of acupuncture on IVF success rates: A randomised controlled trial

Homerton Fertility Centre, Homerton University Hospital, Homerton Row, Hackney, London E9 6SR, UK

Correspondence Address:
Roy Homburg
Homerton Fertility Centre, Homerton University Hospital,Homerton Row, Hackney, London E9 6SR
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/fsr.fsr_37_18

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Background: Clinical trials to assess the benefits of acupuncture on in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment have differed in study design, protocol, outcome measures and commercial bias. This heterogeneity has precluded any firm conclusion regarding the efficacy, or otherwise, of acupuncture in this field. To address this, 15 international acupuncturists with experience in treating women during IVF participated in Delphi questionnaires and reached a consensus protocol to be used in future research. We were among the first to adopt this newly agreed standard protocol. The aim of this study was to address whether the agreed acupuncture consensus protocol is beneficial for IVF outcomes and may be offered to women undergoing IVF. Methods: An randomised controlled trial, in which 157 women were randomised to receive either acupuncture treatment three times in the treatment cycle in addition to our standard IVF protocol (n = 79) or no acupuncture treatment (n = 78) in their first or second IVF cycle. They were between 23 and 43 years with body mass index below 30. The study group (n = 79) received acupuncture based on the Delphi consensus protocol, between days 6 and 8 of ovarian stimulation, and twice on the day of embryo transfer, before and after transfer. The IVF practitioner was blinded to the randomisation. The primary end point was live birth. Results: Fifteen out of 79 women in the intervention group withdrew from the study compared to 9/78 women from the control group (P < 0.001). A per-protocol analysis revealed that the rate of live births (27/64, 42% vs. 11/69, 15.94%, P = 0.001) and positive pregnancy tests (34/64, 53% vs. 19/69, 27.53%, P = 0.013) were significantly higher in the acupuncture group compared with the control group. Conclusion: The results of this study imply that acupuncture may be offered as a possible method of improving IVF outcome. This study followed a widely approved consensus protocol hoping to settle disagreement in the literature and resolve previous disparity. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials NCT02683967.

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