If you’ve been TTC for a while no doubt you’ve heard that acupuncture, whether on its own or as part of a Traditional Chinese Medicine regimen that includes acupuncture, might be useful. If you’re on the fence about whether to try it, a new Chinese study from the journal Fertility and Sterility may sway you: The researchers looked at whether a specific kind of acupuncture called transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) improved the rate of pregnancies in women who were undergoing embryo transfer, part of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle in which a fertilized egg (embryo) is transferred back to a woman's uterus, hopefully to implant and grow into a healthy baby.
The research looked at just over 300 women, all under 45 years old who were using both fresh and frozen embryos, and with or without intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). They were divided, roughly, into three equal-sized groups of about 100 women – one group got a fake version of the acupuncture; the second group got one real TEAS treatment; and a third group got two TEAS treatments. All the women were given the real or sham treatment shortly after their embryo transfer and they didn’t know if they were getting a real treatment or not.
The findings were definitely encouraging for the women who had the real acupuncture with TEAS: The pregnancy rate for women who didn’t have treatment was 29%, but one treatment upped success to a nearly 43% pregnancy rate, and those who got two treatments had a 50% pregnancy rate.
If a fear of needles has made you steer clear of acupuncture, you may want to talk to your doctor or an acupuncturist about TEAS, which uses electrodes placed on the skin at various acupoints, rather than needles that pierce the skin.
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