Complementary Medical Procedure

Desperate Quest

The newest research shows that acupuncture can improve the rate of pregnancy when it is used as an adjunct to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Seven clinical trials of embryo transfer in combination with complementary acupuncture in women having IVF treatment showed a slight increase in the rate of pregnancy in these patients. This is important information for the estimated 10-15% of infertile couples who are on a desperate quest to conceive while at the same time experiencing infertility emotional issues and sometimes physical symptoms when undergoing the expensive and time-consuming fertility treatments such as IVF, which can take a heavy emotional toll on couples.

The process of in vitro fertilization, involves the retrieval of the woman's eggs during a specialized surgical procedure. The retrieved eggs are then fertilized inside of a laboratory. The resulting embryos are then transferred to the woman's uterus. If the eggs implant themselves into the uterus, pregnancy has been achieved.

Long and Expensive

The process is long, expensive, painful, and stress-producing. A complementary technique such as acupuncture that may improve the experience of IVF or its rate of success is therefore a welcome innovation for both patients and health care providers.

The review of these seven clinical trials was undertaken by Eric Manheimer and his colleagues, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Integrative Medicine, who relate that acupuncture has been used by the Chinese for the regulation of the female reproductive system for hundreds of years.

It was this centuries-long use of the ancient Chinese practice involving needles and acupressure points that gave the reviewers the idea that such treatment might improve the rates of pregnancy in IVF. Acupuncture involves piercing specific areas of the body with fine needles for pain relief, regional anesthesia, or for therapeutic purposes. The study included data on 1366 women and compared the rates of pregnancy in those who were given acupuncture within one day of embryo transfer with those who had false or placebo acupuncture or no acupuncture at all.

Researchers found that for every ten women undergoing IVF concurrent with acupuncture, one additional pregnancy was achieved. These promising results suggest that more clinical trials should be performed to see how complementary medical procedures can be used alongside fertility treatments to give a more quality experience and improve the chances for a couple to become pregnant. Every piece of information lends a glimmer of hope for this significant sector of our society.

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