Source: Fertility and Sterility 2008; Advance online publication
Investigating whether there are changes in serum levels of the stress hormones cortisol and prolactin in IVF patients treated with acupuncture.
MedWire News: Study results suggest a beneficial regulation of serum cortisol and prolactin in women treated with acupuncture during the medication phase of IVF.
Previous studies suggest that prolactin inhibits androgen aromatization, which may result in improved pregnancy outcomes, while cortisol has been found to improve implantation rates.
Paul Magarelli (Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Centers, Colorado Springs, USA) and co-authors comment that the observed increase in pregnancy rates in acupuncture-treated IVF patients is the result of the impact of acupuncture on prolactin and cortisol levels during stimulation with gonadotropins.
Among 67 women, aged 23-41 years, 33 were assigned as controls and 34 to treatment with nine electrostimulation (ET) acupuncture treatments before egg retrieval and one pre- and one post-ET acupuncture treatment.
The researchers found that serum cortisol levels in the acupuncture group were significantly increased compared with controls on IVF medication days 7, 8, 9, 11, 13 (range = 16.2-7.8 ng/ml vs 9.8-1.8 ng/ml), and prolactin levels were higher on days 5, 6, 7, and 8 (range = 26.0-28.0 ng/ml vs 21.1-16.9 ng/ml), respectively.
Notably clinical pregnancy and birth per pregnancy rates were increased in the acupuncture group compared with controls (51 vs 37 percent and 94 vs 64 percent).
“Patients receiving acupuncture  weeks before the stimulation medications and in the times before egg retrieval and ET may benefit more than those treated just pre- or post-ET,” conclude the authors.
Posted: 19 January 2009
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