Assisting IVF treatment with acupuncture can improve the success rate by 65% according to the NHS Choices website
The authors of the 2008 systematic review found that IVF with acupuncture increased the odds of pregnancy by 65% (according to early evidence on ultrasound), increased the odds of ongoing pregnancy by 87% (according to ultrasound evidence of pregnancy at 12 weeks) and increased the odds of a live birth by 91% compared with IVF on its own.
In 2018 a more comprehensive systematic review showed acupuncture to significantly improve the live birth rates of sub fertile patients undergoing IVF and ICSI. The full report is available to download here.
In the UK, the overall birth rate following assisted reproduction is only 21% to 22% (for fresh and frozen transfers) and so, with acupuncture improving the odds by as much as 65%, it is a real breakthrough that we are now recognised to complement IVF treatments in this way. In fact, many fertility clinics in Europe have an in-house Acupuncturist.
I have supported many women through their IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination), ICSI (Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) or IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) procedures. It is important when undergoing these procedures to have some treatment before the procedure is likely to take place as it will give the acupuncturist time to get to know the patient’s health and to work on optimising the uterine lining and quality of the eggs before they are harvested. Certainly research indicates that the more treatments that are carried out prior to insemination, the greater the chance of live birth. It is also not at all unheard of that patients of mine waiting to undergo IVF and having regular acupuncture treatment have found that they fall pregnant naturally.
I always advise my patients that it is important to have a treatment just before the eggs are harvested and more importantly to also have a treatment within 48 hours of the eggs either being implanted or inseminated, depending on which procedure is being undertaken. I work alongside a team of acupuncturists in Bristol to ensure that whenever your procedure is due to take place there should be a qualified acupuncture professional ready to treat you if I am not available. This has worked well and has meant that in 5 years of starting the scheme we haven’t let an IVF patient down.
A recent clinical audit of Verity Allen Acupuncture showed a birth success rate of 67%, with women in the 40 and over group seeing a 60% success rate. 71% of women saw greater success if they received 10 or more treatments prior to and during their IVF cycle.
Research has shown Acupuncture to:
Regulate hormones and menstrual cycle
Improve egg quality
Enhance the vitality of sperm
Relieve the side effects of drugs used in IVF
Increase the thickness of the uterine lining to encourage successful implantation