The effect of acupuncture on psychosocial outcomes for women experiencing infertility: a pilot randomized controlled trial

J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Oct;17(10):923-30. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0380. Epub 2011 Oct 6.


Objectives: The study objectives were to examine the effectiveness of acupuncture for reducing infertility-related stress.

Design: The study design was a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture compared with a wait-list control.

Setting: The study was conducted at The University of Western Sydney.

Subjects: Thirty-two (32) women aged 20-45 years, with a diagnosis of infertility, or a history of unsuccessfully trying to conceive for 12 months or more, were the subjects of the study.

Interventions: Women received six sessions of acupuncture over 8 weeks.

Outcome measures: The primary outcomes were infertility self-efficacy, anxiety, and infertility-related stress. The women's experience of infertility and acupuncture is also reported.

Results: At the end of the 8-week intervention, women in the acupuncture group reported significant changes on two domains on the Fertility Problem Inventory with less social concern (mean difference [MD] -3.75, 95% confidence interval [CI] -7.58 to 0.84, p=0.05), and less relationship concern (MD -3.66, 95% CI -6.80 to -0.052, p=0.02). There were also trends toward a reduction of infertility stress on other domains, and a trend toward improved self-efficacy (MD 11.9, 95% CI -2.20 to 26.0, p=0.09) and less anxiety (MD -2.54, 95% CI -5.95 to 0.86, p=0.08) in the acupuncture group compared with the wait-list control. Women described the experience and impact of acupuncture as positive relating to a sense of relaxation and time out, the engagement with the practitioner, and an intervention that had very few negative side-effects. Changes were also perceived after treatment with women describing a physical and psychologic sense of relaxation and calmness, and a changed perspective in relation to coping.

Conclusions: Acupuncture may be a useful intervention to assist with the reduction of infertility-related stress. Further research is justified.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / psychology*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Middle Aged
  • Relaxation
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Social Environment*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult