American researchers have investigated the effects of acupuncture during IVF on cortisol and prolactin levels in patients undergoing the associated drug treatment. Sixty-seven women were randomised to receive either standard IVF alone or IVF plus acupuncture. Levels of cortisol and prolactin in the blood, were measured regularly during the treatment cycle. Cortisol levels in the acupuncture group were significantly higher on IVF medication days 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 & 13, compared with the control group. Prolactin levels in the acupuncture group were significantly higher on IVF medication days 5 ,6, 7 & 8, compared with the control group.
The authors of the study conclude that acupuncture appears to achieve beneficial regulation of these hormones during the medication phase of the IVF process, and a trend towards more normal fertile cycle characteristics. They add “With the data presented in this study, there does appear to be biochemical changes associated with the use of acupuncture in IVF that may explain the demonstrated improvements in reproductive outcomes. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years, and while modern technology has assisted many couples to create families, we can expect even greater outcomes when both Eastern and Western medicines are combined.”
(Changes in serum cortisol & prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation-embryo transfer treatment. Fertility & Sterility, December 2009.)