A word about acupuncture, IVF, and early pregnancy care

Recently, a patient of ours was given a recommendation to discontinue her ongoing acupuncture treatment leading up to embryo transfer and during the 1st trimester of pregnancy. The patient was apparently told that she could be “over-stimulated” by acupuncture and to avoid it until after her first trimester. While we recognize that occasionally what patients hear and how they interpret it may be different, we did want to take an opportunity to clarify this point.

To the best of our knowledge, there is no medical evidence that acupuncture has produced an “overstimulation” in a patient undergoing a frozen embryo transfer, or otherwise.

We have used, and continue to use, the protocol established by Elisabet Stener-Victorin, et. al., in 1996 (Human Reproduction, Vol.11, No. 6., pp 1314-1317, 1996) prior to embryo transfer on most of our IVF patients, including those you have referred to us. Since then, however, new studies have been conducted demonstrating the safety and efficacy of acupuncture during IVF and early pregnancy. While we continue to use the Stener-Vicotrin protocol, we have also incorporated the Credennda-Magarelli protocol as described by Paul Magarelli MD in 2008. In their study, Drs. Magarelli and Cridennda found an improvement in serum cortisol and prolactin levels, and a CPR of 51% as compared to 37% in the control group. Also, in that same study, there was 0% miscarriages in the acupuncture group and 6% miscarriages in the control group. (Fertility and Sterility Vol 92, No. 6, December 2009).

One of the most researched applications of acupuncture is on treating pregnancy related nausea ——Ezzo J, Streitberger K, Schneider A.  Cochrane Systematic Reviews Examine P6 Acupuncture-Point Stimulation for Nausea and Vomiting.  The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.  2006; 12(5): 489-495.

S. deLacey in 2009 stated that “our findings suggest that acupuncture facilitated improvements with coping and self enhancement. Whilst confined confined to a small sample of women, [this study] confirms that acupuncture is indeed perceived by infertile women to have an impact on their health.”