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 :-)
6 Responses to this post
Although you call acupuncture a pseudo-science, acupuncture has been shown to help many health ailments, including infertility. I have personally helped 8 patients get pregnant in the past 3 months with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary therapy, lifestyle counseling and fertility coaching.

I’m not surprised to see that acupuncture when done in “scientifically controlled” situations doesn’t help IVF. My advice to patients looking to acupuncture to help improve their IVF success rates is to take 4-6 months off from the IVF roller coaster and properly prepare both bodies for making a baby. It’s important to address both the sperm in the egg. Its’a 50-50 job to make a baby.

Good luck to all out there! Check out my website for more information on preconception care,
Hi Amelia,

I do not *call* acupuncture pseudoscience, it *is* pseudoscience: it refers to unproven concepts such as life forces, meridians, and Qi. And despite being unproven and highly implausible concepts, they are being used as the foundations for a HEALTH treatment! Can you not see the problem here?

As I say in the article, acupuncture may well have some effect in certain self-limiting conditions and the effect is based on valid physiological or psychosomatic causes. It is *not* based on strange energies and other such ideas, and acupuncture is not effective for the conditions is being advertised (anything from diabetes to cancer I have heard). And there is certainly no evidence yet to say that it works for IVF.

It has also been shown a number of times that acupuncture and sham acupuncture have similar results. See DC’s post for more info on a couple of trials.
Acupuncture does work. it helps me deal with my allergies and also i use acupunture for relaxation /
4. sciencebitches
Whoa! If you say it so authoritatively then it *must* work! Thank you so much!
Acupuncture has been known in China for ages, my mom introduced me to acupunture and i am since been amazed how it can reduce my migraine.
Well then John, now that you have said this, we can safely ignore the detailed studies, the comprehensive Cochrane reviews, and, you know, science (gasp!) that shows that acupuncture is nothing more than a theatrical placebo, and instead trust and accept your personal opinion.