Background: Numerous randomised studies have reported pregnancy outcome in women who received acupuncture during their in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment cycle.
Objective: The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review with meta-analysis of the trials of acupuncture during IVF treatment on the outcomes of clinical pregnancy and live birth rates.
Search strategy: Searches were conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, ISI Proceedings and SCISEARCH.
Selection criteria: All randomised controlled trials that evaluated the effects of acupuncture compared with no treatment or sham acupuncture in women undergoing IVF-intracytoplasmic sperm injection treatment were included.
Data collection and analysis: Study selection, quality appraisal and data extraction were performed independently and in duplicate. A sensitivity analysis was conducted where the meta-analysis was restricted to trials in which sham acupuncture was used in the control group. Meta-regression analysis was used to explore the association between study characteristics and pregnancy rates.
Main results: Thirteen relevant trials, including a total of 2500 women randomised to either acupuncture or control group, were identified. No evidence of publication bias was found (Begg's test, P = 0.50). Five trials (n = 877) evaluated IVF outcome when acupuncture was performed around the time of transvaginal oocyte retrieval, while eight trials (n = 1623) reported IVF outcome when acupuncture was performed around the time of embryo transfer (ET). Meta-analysis of the five studies of acupuncture around the time of egg collection did not show a significant difference in clinical pregnancy (relative risks [RR] = 1.06, 95% CI 0.82-1.37, P = 0.65). Meta-analysis of the eight studies of acupuncture around the time of ET showed no difference in the clinical pregnancy rate (RR = 1.23, 95% CI 0.96-1.58, P = 0.1). Live birth data were available from five of the eight studies of acupuncture around the time of ET. Meta-analysis of these studies did not show a significant increase in live birth rate with acupuncture (RR = 1.34, 95% CI 0.85-2.11). Using meta-regression, no significant association between any of the studied covariates and clinical pregnancy rate was found (P > 0.05 for all covariates).
Conclusion: Currently available literature does not provide sufficient evidence that adjuvant acupuncture improves IVF clinical pregnancy rate.