2 studies on the value of Acupuncture for stress during IVF.
If trying to conceive is taking longer than you expected, you and your partner are probably feeling anxious about becoming a parent and are likely overwhelmed by information on what to do, or not to do, and when to do it. By the time you consult a fertility specialist or commence IVF there could be significant pressure on your psychological wellbeing. You may be experiencing anxiety, guilt, helplessness, financial stress and your relationship might be under pressure.
Whilst doing your research (and I know you’ve done a lot) you would have come across literature on acupuncture and the role that it can play in conception. Acupuncture can assist with enhancing egg and sperm quality and preparing the body for conception (that’s our specialty and what our online preconception program is all about!) but it can also play an important role in reducing anxiety and helping to improve psychological wellbeing.
I have reviewed 2 recent studies that look at acupuncture for stress during IVF, and how it can be relevant to your psychological wellbeing on this journey.
1. Effect of acupuncture on IVF-related anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
In 2022 a systematic review and meta-analysis of 8 randomised controlled trials was undertaken to see the effect of acupuncture on anxiety related to the IVF process. To assess anxiety levels, standardised tests and qualitative questionnaires regarding stress levels and quality of life were undertaken.
It was found that there was a small positive effect on anxiety with the use of acupuncture. Overall, the study concluded that acupuncture is effective (and safe) in reducing IVF related anxiety, and is a good alternative to pharmacological support.
All the studies reviewed had limitations such as differences in acupuncture points used, session lengths and number of sessions used in each study and it was noted further research on this topic is required.
2. IVF, acupuncture and mental health: a qualitative study of perceptions and experiences of women participating in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture during IVF treatment.
This 2021 Australian qualitative randomised controlled study consisted of a sample of 50 women aged between 18-42 having a fresh IVF cycle. The women received either acupuncture or sham acupuncture by an accredited acupuncturist. The women were interviewed following the treatment and IVF cycle.
Women in both groups noted they believed their mental health had improved as a result of the acupuncture. They described a reduction in their stress levels, improved feelings of self-worth, calmness, optimism and less anxiety. They noted that having the opportunity to take the time to rest in an emotionally supportive environment was beneficial. None of the participants were concerned about adverse risks associated with the acupuncture. The study concluded that acupuncture during IVF treatment can reduce psychological symptoms.
This study had the following limitations; the sample women were primarily Caucasian and well educated and that more than half of them had received acupuncture in the past.
These 2 recent studies on the value of acupuncture in addressing psychological wellbeing during IVF have concluded that acupuncture may be of benefit to help manage your anxiety and stress during IVF. When your IVF is successful and you are pregnant your anxiety and stress around your baby is not likely to disappear and acupuncture is safe for you and the baby (when performed by qualified and registered acupuncturists like us) so any psychological issues you may experience during the first trimester can continue to be treated. Please contact us at Sydney Natural Fertility if you would like to discuss this information further or learn how it may be relevant to your situation.
Researched and written by Lisa Burnley, licensed Acupuncturist and Doctor of Chinese Medicine.
De Lacey, S., Sanderman, E., & Smith, C.A (2020). IVF, acupuncture and mental health: a qualitative study of perceptions and experiences of women participating in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture during IVF treatment. Reproductive Biomedicine & Society Online 12 22-31.
Hullender Rubin, L.E., Smith, C.A., Schnyer, R.N., Tahir, P., & Pasch, L.A (2022). Effect of acupuncture on IVF- related anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis. RBMO, 45(1); 69-80.