In a nutshell
This article reviewed studies that compared acupuncture to medical treatments for women experiencing infertility. The authors found that acupuncture combined with medical treatments might be more effective at increasing pregnancy rates.
Infertility is an issue that affects many couples. The causes of infertility can be male or female. The causes of female infertility include hormone imbalances, a lack of ovulation (release of an egg) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS causes hormone imbalances that then affects ovulation and menstruation. Currently, women with infertility are treated using drugs that stimulate ovulation, hormones or in vitro fertilization (IVF). While these treatments are successful for some patients, others still do not conceive.
Acupuncture is a type of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves inserting fine needles into different points in the skin for therapeutic reasons. While a number of studies have compared acupuncture with medical treatments for infertility, it is unclear which is more effective.
Methods & findings
The results of 22 trials including 2591 women experiencing infertility were analyzed. These trials compared acupuncture with medical treatments. The trials examined different results of infertility treatment, such as pregnancy rates, ovulation and hormone levels.
Acupuncture increased the rate of pregnancy compared to medical treatments alone. 20 trials including 1644 patients evaluated pregnancy rates. Of these patients, 827 underwent acupuncture and 817 were given medical treatments. Patients who underwent acupuncture had an 84% higher rate of pregnancy than the medical treatment groups.
Of patients with PCOS, there was a 70% higher pregnancy rate following acupuncture than with medical treatments. Of patients with ovulation problems, there was a 2.65 times higher pregnancy rate than medical treatments. Patients experiencing infertility for other reasons had a 2.06 times higher pregnancy rate than medical treatments.
15 trials evaluated ovulation rates. Of 1702 patients experiencing infertility, 839 underwent acupuncture and 863 underwent medical treatments. Patients who underwent acupuncture had a 29% higher ovulation rate than those who received medical treatments alone. Acupuncture also reduced the number of side effects experienced by treatment.
The bottom line
The authors concluded that acupuncture alone or in combination with other infertility therapies improved pregnancy, ovulation rates, and hormone levels.
The fine print
This review was limited by the studies that it analyzed as there was a suggestion of bias in all of them. These studies also had different treatment approaches and timeframes, making the comparison more difficult. All of the studies included in this review were conducted in China.
Talk to your doctor about alternative treatments that may benefit you.
Published By :
Jul 01, 2019