The remarkable success rate occurred across seven acupuncture trials involving 1,366 women in a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupuncture was delivered either just before or just after embryo transfer – the moment when the embryo fertilized in the laboratory must attach itself to the wall of the womb to establish a pregnancy.
The research was carried out by scientists from the University of Maryland and the VU University Amsterdam in Holland. Researchers claim that because acupuncture costs only about $75 per session compared to $6000 to $10,000 per cycle for IVF, it would be a cost effective, safe and efficient way of boosting success rates in fertility treatment.
It is thought that acupuncture stimulates the neurotransmitters that trigger the production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone, which controls the menstrual cycle and a woman’s ovulation. Acupuncture is also thought to stimulate blood flow to the uterus and boost the production of endogenous opioids, inducing the body to relax.
British Medical Journal, doi:10.1136/bmj.39471.430451.BE (February 2008)