Does acupuncture improve IVF rates?

Two articles I read recently reporting on the supposed “success of acupuncture” as a support for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments. First was in BBC, the other one in Metro.

I think both journalists were too quick to write such glorious headlines as “Acupuncture boosts IVF success” promoting such a pseudo-scientific concept as acupuncture. Now, I do not doubt that acupuncture may well have a positive effect as, after all, it *does* have measurable physical effects (as opposed to, say, Homeopathy). But to go further and talk about meridians, Qi, and that sticking needles into your body will help your cancer, diabetes or anything like that, is simply too much bull**** to take!

Hell Raiser
Many celebrities are proponents
of acupuncture

Anyway, back to the reports: here is the interesting part: the study that claimed improvements in the chances of women having a baby through IVF, was not a placebo-controlled study… Well there you have it… Having an authority figure sticking needles to various body parts of yours apparently makes you relax (it eludes me why though!) which is a great thing for IVF treatments. And the scientists involved also speculate that this improvement is due to placebo, so further studies are required -and hey, make sure subsequent studies are placebo-controlled!

Also, the Metro article finishes by mentioning another exact same study, that showed that acupuncture and IVF was not a good combination after all, resulting in a 37% decline in pregnancy rates compared to simple IVF without the needles. So, even though there were no conclusions at all, something tells me that acupuncture proponents will use this to back up their crazy claims once again…

Even though this post was published on the 13th, I actually wrote it on the 9th right after I read the Metro and BBC articles. In the meantime, Orac from “Respectful Insolence” totally deconstructed the related paper. I have to be quicker in the future :-)