Prior to Conception: The Role of an Acupuncture Protocol in Improving Women's Reproductive Functioning Assessed by a Pilot Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Trial

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:3587569. doi: 10.1155/2016/3587569. Epub 2016 May 3.

Abstract

The global average of couples with fertility problems is 9%. Assisted reproductive technologies are often inaccessible. Evidence points to acupuncture offering an opportunity to promote natural fertility. This study asked whether providing a multiphasic fertility acupuncture protocol to women with sub/infertility would increase their awareness of fertility and achieve normalisation of their menstrual cycle compared with a lifestyle control. In a pragmatic randomised controlled trial sub/infertile women were offered an intervention of acupuncture and lifestyle modification or lifestyle modification only. There was a statistically significant increase in fertility awareness in the acupuncture group (86.4%, 19) compared to 40% (n = 8) of the lifestyle only participants (Relative Risk (RR) 2.38, 95% confidence interval (CI) of 1.25, 4.50), with an adjusted p value of 0.011. Changes in menstrual regularity were not statistically significant. There was no statistical difference in the pregnancy rate with seven women (adjusted p = 0.992) achieving pregnancy during the course of the study intervention. Those receiving the acupuncture conceived within an average of 5.5 weeks compared to 10.67 weeks for the lifestyle only group (p = 0.422). The acupuncture protocol tested influenced women who received it compared to women who used lifestyle modification alone: their fertility awareness and wellbeing increased, and those who conceived did so in half the time.