Recently I was contacted by a reproductive endocrinologist because she was interested in my thoughts on the latest study on acupuncture before and after embryo transfer (IVF).
This study was the latest of several similar (peer reviewed) studies that aimed to measure the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments before and after embryo transfer, and while the first several studies (see Fertility & Sterility 2002, 2006) showed statistically significant improvements in clinical pregnancies and live births with acupuncture, this studied showed the opposite. Although I'm sure most western minded physicians and patients would find this study alarming I hope I can shed some light on why I do not.
When I looked further into the study I noted that the author of the study (Dr. LaTasha Craig) noted two things: 1) she acknowledge the fact that several other larger studies seemed to have findings that were quite the opposite and said their was a definite need for further study and 2) that she stated she believed the difference in pregnancy rates may have more to do with the stress of having to drive to and from extra appointments and run all over on the day of transfer. (The previous studies did the acupuncture on site.)
Her latter point makes a lot of sense from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective and is already something I am sure to discuss with my patients as they approach their transfer date. I would never say everyone should have acupuncture on the day of transfer, but rather discuss options, pros and cons and stress levels and suggest they consider a wide range of options...no acupuncture at all, house call acupuncture after, pre and post at my clinic, pre and post at the fertility clinic (some do allow this), just getting a treatment the day before and taking it easy the day of... there are many many viable options and no single one is right for every woman...no matter what a study says!
If indeed relaxing and listening to what is best on a unique, holistic and personal level is what makes traditional Chinese medicine so powerful, and true traditional Chinese medicine is based on taking into consideration all that a woman is experiencing (both physically and emotionally) how could one thing be good for everyone!
It makes perfect sense that women who were randomized into two groups and then half of them were instructed to drive to and from a place they had never been to get acupuncture (maybe never having had it before) from a complete strange might indeed cancel out any possible benefits by sheer stress alone.
Ultimately, I think this study could be helpful. It might be used as an example of why it is important to realize that stress is a very important factor and to make sure patients are making their decisions on what is helpful for them and not just what a study says.
Welcome to my blog!
I'm an acupuncturist, teacher, fertility specialist, patient centered advocate, mom, activist and more! This blog is a place for me to write down the things on my mind, the things I discuss over and over, and the things I find helpful, interesting, and inspiring all in the hope that someone else out there, maybe YOU, will find some of these things to be helpful, interesting and inspiring too. I love learning, I love sharing, and I am passionate about helping others lead more balanced, fertile, and healthy lives - while trying to do the same myself. So here goes... The Blogging Life...