Indeed, in a study of 160 women, published April 2002 in the reproductive journal Fertility and Sterility, a group of German researchers found that adding acupuncture to the traditional IVF treatment protocols substantially increased pregnancy success.
In this study one group of 80 patients received two, 25-minute acupuncture treatments — one prior to having fertilized embryos transferred into their uterus, and one directly afterwards. The second group of 80, who also underwent embryo transfer, received no acupuncture treatments.
The result: While women in both groups got pregnant, the rate was significantly higher in the acupuncture group — 34 pregnancies, compared with 21 in the women who received IVF alone.
But increasing the odds of IVF is not the only way acupuncture can help. Chang says it can also work to stimulate egg production in women who can’t — or don’t want to — use fertility medications to help them get pregnant.
“When you compare the pregnancy rates for an egg producing drug such as Clomid to acupuncture alone, the rates are equal — a 50% chance of pregnancy in three months for general patients — to those not undergoing IVF,” says Chang.
Unfortunately, however, Chang says that because acupuncture generally stimulates the growth and release of just one egg, it can’t be substituted for fertility drugs used in IVF, since they work to produce the multiple eggs necessary to achieve success with this treatment.