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Meta-Analysis Suggests Acupuncture Effective for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

A recent medical review suggests acupuncture is effective and safe for treating polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in women who choose to use in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

PCOS is a disorder of the endocrine system which causes cysts on the ovaries and makes them swollen. This can cause infertility, irregular menstruation and other symptoms, necessitating reproductive technologies such as IVF and ICSI to achieve pregnancy. IVF is a procedure in which a sperm and an egg undergo fertilization in a medical laboratory. ICSI is part of the IVF process. It involves directly injecting a sperm into an ovum.

Researchers investigated 15 databases and included scientific studies which met their specific requirements. Eligibility criteria included female patients undergoing regular acupuncture or electro-acupuncture (EA). EA uses electrical stimulation applied to the acupuncture needles.

The researchers looked at many factors to reach their conclusion, including the clinical pregnancy rate (CPR), the live birth rate (LBR), frequency of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), and the number of adverse events.

CPR refers to a pregnancy confirmed by technological means such as an ultrasound or the detection of a fetal heartbeat. LBR denotes a successful delivery of a living, breathing baby. And finally OHSS occurs when a woman reacts negatively to hormonal therapies for the purpose of encouraging egg production. They end up suffering with symptoms such as pain and swelling of the ovaries.

The researchers showed that acupuncture may specifically help polycystic patients minimize the possibility of OHSS, increase the chances of a live birth, and raise the clinical pregnancy rate when used to aid medical reproductive technologies. The researchers recommend more clinical trials to further support their conclusions.

The study titled "Effectiveness of acupuncture in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome undergoing in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a systematic review and meta-analysis” appeared in Acupuncture Medicine in June of 2017.

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Source: Jo, Junyoung, and Yoon Jae Lee. "Effectiveness of Acupuncture in Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Undergoing in Vitro Fertilisation or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis." Acupuncture in Medicine, vol. 35, no. 3, Nov. 2017, pp. 162–170., doi:10.1136/acupmed-2016-011163.

About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

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