Acupuncture linked to IVF success

Updated June 05, 2006 17:22:00

Researchers in Adelaide have found that giving acupuncture to IVF patients can substantially increase pregnancy rates.

But the reasons for the treatment's apparent success are still unclear.

For Suzanne Hemmerling, who had tried a couple of cycles of IVF with no luck, it was third time lucky when she enrolled in the University of Adelaide acupuncture study.

She was given acupuncture just before and after the embryo was implanted.

"At the very least, it might have improved my mindset and made me more positive but I'm sure it did a lot more than that," she said.

Her daughter Ashley was born 20 months ago and her second child is due in four weeks.

In the trials, half the women were given real acupuncture, while the rest were given non-invasive needles.

"There were over 1,000 patients, and patients who had had acupuncture done in the correct place had double the pregnancy [rate] after IVF," Professor Rob Norman said.

But Prof Norman admits the research team is unsure why the ancient treatment might make a difference.

"Acupuncture probably has an effect on the lining of the womb in a way that we don't yet understand," Prof Norman said.

"It may be increased blood flow or changing chemicals involved with the implantation process but it certainly seems to work."

Fertility experts say acupuncture might be most useful for older women or those who have had problems conceiving through IVF.

They say it is important to have the procedure done under medical supervision.

Topics: biology, fertility-and-infertility, adelaide-5000

First posted June 05, 2006 17:16:00