Undergoing acupuncture treatment during in vitro fertilisation (IVF) might not increase a woman's chances of conceiving, finds a study.
Acupuncture -- a traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body -- has become a widely used treatment prior to and during IVF.
The study, however, showed that acupuncture is no better than placebo for improving IVF success.
It showed no significant benefit from IVF when compared with a short course of acupuncture using dummy needles placed away from "true" acupuncture points.
"Our findings do not support acupuncture as an efficacious treatment compared to sham," lead investigator Caroline Smith, Professor at the Western Sydney University in Australia.
For the study, published in the journal JAMA, the team included over 800 Australian and New Zealand women to examine the effects of acupuncture administered prior to and following an embryo transfer (ET).
The participants were given either acupuncture or a sham acupuncture control (a non-insertive needle placed away from the true acupuncture points).
The results showed the rate of live birth was 18.3 per cent among participants who received acupuncture versus 17.8 per cent who received the sham acupuncture control, a non-significant difference.
While a short course of acupuncture may statistically be no better than sham at improving live birth and pregnancy outcomes, a psycho-social benefit from acupuncture was reported by women undergoing IVF, the researchers said.
"Some studies suggest reproductive outcomes maybe improved when acupuncture is compared with no treatment," Smith said.
"Feeling relaxed and reporting relief from stress and women feeling good about themselves is to be welcomed for women as they undergo an IVF cycle," explained co-author Michael Chapman, Professor at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.