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Effect of Acupunction on in Vitro Fertilization Success

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Effect of Acupuncture on In Vitro Fertilization Success
Compared to In Vitro Fertilization Alone
I am examining the effects of acupuncture on assisted reproductive therapy, namely in vitro fertilization (IVF). This topic is of interest to me because of personal curiosities due to having undergone assistive reproductive procedures. My eyes and ears are always open to the latest advancements and experiences of others within the realm of infertility treatments. I attended a conference last month in which the specialist recommended seeing an acupuncturist as an adjunct method for increasing fertility. This therapy would be a meeting of old world Eastern therapy and the new advancements of Western medicine. This idea has left me wondering if there is greater success when using acupuncture in conjunction with IVF compared to using IVF alone.
Johnson, D. (2006). Acupuncture prior to an at embryo transfer in an assisted conception unit – a case series. Acupuncture in Medicine, 24(1), 23-28.
This article gives data from a quantitative research study that compared IVF success rates with patients undergoing acupuncture therapy prior to and after embryo transfer with patients who participated in IVF only. The sample population for this case study involved 22 female patients voluntarily electing IVF treatment at an England hospital between 2002 and 2005, with average age of 36.2 years. All patients were self-referred for acupuncture by seeing pamphlets placed in the lobby of the IVF treatment facility. The acupuncture treatment included one treatment at the beginning of the IVF cycle, two days prior to egg collection, and a final session on the day of embryo transfer. The comparison group would be comprised of 265 females with average age 36.3 years undergoing IVF treatment alone.
There was a 57.7% pregnancy success rate in women receiving acupuncture along with IVF, and 45.3% pregnancy success in women receiving IVF only. Although the research concluded there is no statistical significance, there was a higher success rate in the acupuncture group compared to women undergoing only IVF. Nursing implications related to this topic would include patient education regarding the use of complementary and alternative medicine. The patient should be made aware of possible risks from improper acupuncture technique, such as internal bleeding due to improper needle placement.
Madaschi, C., Almeida Fereira Braga, D. P., Cassia Savio Figueira, R. d., Jr, A. I., & Jr, E. B. (2010). Effect of acupuncture on assisted reproductive treatment outcomes. Acupuncture Medicine, 28, 180-184.
This article provided quantitative data through research intended to examine whether acupuncture treatment increases pregnancy rates of patients undergoing IVF. Patients under age 35 and undergoing IVF therapy were invited to participate. There were 416 participants stratified according to age and then placed placed equally in either the acupuncture or control group (did not receive acupuncture). Patients were told their treatment group on embryo transfer day, and after were given acupuncture therapy if applicable.
The results of the study show a 32.2% pregnancy rate in the control group and 40.4% pregnancy rate in the acupuncture group. The scientists responsible for this study concluded there is no influence of acupuncture treatment on pregnancy outcomes when given prior to embryo transfer. Nursing implications for this study might include referral to counseling or therapist because of the letdown associated with expected positive results of the acupuncture and IVF therapy. Andersen, D., Lossl, K., Andersen, A. N., Furbringer, J., Bach, H., Simonsen, J., et al. (2010). Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer: a randomized controlled trial of 635 patients. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 21, 366-375.
The article follows a randomized, controlled, double-blinded trial investigating whether acupuncture in conjunction with IVF could increase ongoing pregnancy rates. The quantitative study used 314 patients who underwent IVF accompanied by acupuncture and a group of 321 patients who received placebo acupuncture along with their IVF treatment. All participants were females under age 37. Whether or not a couple would undergo acupuncture therapy or placebo acupuncture was not known until appointment day and even then remained unknown to patient and clinician performing the embryo transfer.
The results of the study showed 27% pregnancy rates for patients receiving acupuncture and 32% pregnancy rate for the placebo group. The scientists concluded that there was no statistical significance to suggest acupuncture administered in relation to embryo transfer has any effect on the outcome of IVF treatment. Nursing implications for this practice would include patient education on acupuncture treatment and possible side effects. In addition, it would be important to discuss with patient the supporting data surrounding this method as a complementary and alternative form of medicine.
Based on the information provided in the three journal articles examined, the effects of acupuncture on IVF success rates are inconclusive. The data certainly suggests there is a possibility of success for some, but the determinants for this outcome were not made clear in the three articles examined. Therefore, it would not be best practice to recommend acupuncture strictly as a means to increase IVF success rates, as there is no strong data to prove this success.

Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from…...

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