The women who underwent acupuncture were more likely to become pregnant. Acupuncture could boost the chances of a woman becoming pregnant after IVF by 65%.
The effect is so significant that just 10 women needed to combine the treatments for one to conceive who would not otherwise have done so, a study showed.
It is not clear how acupuncture affects fertility. However, IVF is extremely stressful and it could be that the relaxation involved in the therapy helps, experts said. The findings come from a review of seven scientific trials, involving a total of 1,366 women of all ages, published in the British Medical Journal today. The study looked at pregnancy rates among women having acupuncture around the time that the embryo was transferred to the womb during IVF.
It compared the results with those given a fake acupuncture treatment and women who had no extra therapy.
Those who had real acupuncture increased their chances of becoming pregnant by 65 per cent compared with the sham treatment or nothing.
Eric Manheimer, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, in
One in seven couples will experience difficulty conceiving. The average cost of one cycle of IVF in
A previous study suggested that women having acupuncture were actually less likely to get pregnant. However, this was based on patients who sought out the therapy on their own rather than being randomly assigned as part of a trial, meaning they were probably resorting to it because their chances of conceiving were already poor.
Prof Edzard Ernst, of the
The research paper said if the results were largely down to a placebo effect then there would have been increased pregnancy rates among the women who thought they were receiving real acupuncture, but were actually receiving a sham therapy, where the needles were placed at random. However, this was not the case.