One of the trials that investigated the effect of acupuncture on IVF pregnancy rates also collected data on the subjective experience of these women. The authors write “acupuncture patients reported significantly less anxiety post-transfer and reported feeling more optimistic about their cycle and enjoyed their sessions more than the control subjects.” Domar said nobody knows how exactly acupuncture might boost IVF success, although she suggests that it has something to do with a woman's mental state at the time of embryo transfer.
Objective: To replicate previous research on the efficacy of acupuncture in increasing pregnancy rates (PR) in patients undergoing IVF and to determine whether such an increase was due to a placebo effect.
Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled, single blind trial.
Setting: Private, academically affiliated, infertility clinic.
Patient(s): 150 patients scheduled to undergo embryo transfer.
Intervention(s): Subjects were randomized to either the acupuncture or control group. Acupuncture patients received the protocol, as first described by Paulus and his colleagues, for 25 minutes before and after embryo transfer. Control subjects laid quietly. All subjects then completed questionnaires on anxiety and optimism. The IVF staff remained blind to subject assignment.
Main Outcome Measure(s): Clinical PRs, anxiety, optimism.
Result(s): Before randomization both groups had similar demographic characteristics including age and psychological variables. There were no significant differences in PRs between the two groups. Acupuncture patients reported significantly less anxiety post-transfer and reported feeling more optimistic about their cycle and enjoyed their sessions more than the control subjects.
Conclusion(s): The use of acupuncture in patients undergoing IVF was not associated with an increase in PRs but they were more relaxed and more optimistic.