Acupuncture and IVF Research Part 1: Blinding and ‘Sham’ Acupuncture
Recent media has reported on a research paper published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) concluding that acupuncture does not increase live birth rates for women undergoing IVF treatment[i]. As with most media, the tendency to sensationalize the headline over the substance means that the real story behind the research has been overlooked. Over the years research on acupuncture and IVF has returned mixed results[ii],[iii]. Many research studies on acupuncture and IVF have actually demonstrated statistically significant benefits from including acupuncture. Whether or not the effect comes from the acupuncture itself or some effect surrounding the application of the acupuncture is important from a scientific perspective, but may be less relevant from a clinical perspective. The positive response to acupuncture seems to be enhanced in women who are regarded as ‘poor responders’ to IVF making it even more important for this group. In comparison to the cost of an IVF cycle, the cost of acupuncture is small. Just because we don’t yet understand what creates the effect doesn’t negate the fact that there are very positive effects from combining acupuncture with IVF treatment.