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Systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Research resource
Lianne Aquilina and Mark Bovey: British Acupuncture Council review, 2019

A body of evidence is presented on the topic of acupuncture administered for IVF or ICSI that indicates acupuncture has a significant treatment effect on clinical pregnancy and birth rate when conducted at varied time points. Research is ongoing and is not conclusive.

Key points:

  • • A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis found acupuncture to have a significant treatment effect in improving the birth rates of subfertile women undergoing IVF or ICSI.
  • A summary of previous reviews from 2009 to 2017 found acupuncture had a beneficial treatment effect on clinical pregnancy rate. However, according to GRADE assessment guidelines, the scientific methods of the studies included in this review need to be improved.
  • It is recommended that future research should explore the impact of acupuncture administration during ovarian stimulation. The aim should be to improve embryo and blastocyst quality, rather than focus on acupuncture post fertilisation.
  • Acupuncture may be a suitable treatment option to help reduce stress and anxiety levels for women suffering with subfertility.
  • Research indicates that the effectiveness of acupuncture may be dose-dependent, that is a sufficient number of acupuncture treatments are required over an adequate period of time

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