Vietnamese study finds that acupuncture raises IVF success rate

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Doctor Ly Thai Loc, head of the infertility department at Hung Vuong maternal health hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, gives advice to a patient. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

A new study by Vietnamese doctors found that acupuncture increased the chance of invitro fertilization success by more than 20 percent.

The study was presented at a scientific conference at the Ho Chi Minh City Medicine University earlier this month. Doctors there said that acupuncture intervention can help by being conducted before and after the fertilized egg is transferred to the mother’s uterus, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Successful pregnancy after the transfer is currently lower than 30 percent, the doctors said.

Dr. Quan Vu Ngoc from Ho Chi Minh City Traditional Medicine Institute and a member of the study said acupuncture has been tried for sterility in many western countries, and his team wanted to assess the effect of acupuncture on IVF so that the therapy could be used more widely in reproduction health treatments in Vietnam.

The team of doctors, including Ngoc, Nguyen Duy Tai from the obstetrics department of HCMC Medicine University, Vu Thi Nhung from the HCMC Ob-Gyn Association, and Ly Thai Loc, head of the infertility department at the city’s leading maternal health hospital Hung Vuong, conducted tests on women who were receiving infertility treatment at Hung Vuong.

Subjects were women under 38 years old who had gone through more than three unsuccessful transfers for their fertilized eggs, or who suffer uterus malformations.

A group of them received 25 minutes of acupuncture on their ears, head, belly and legs and 50 percent of them were pregnant after two weeks.

The pregnancy rate at another group who thought they were receiving acupuncture but did not was 26.5 percent, the same rate among women who knew that they were not undergoing acupuncture intervention.

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“The result eliminates the hypothesis that acupuncture only has psychological effects,” Ngoc said.

He said the therapy might bring more hope for conception in women above 35 years old, 58.3 percent of the women establishing successful pregnancy among the acupuncture group were above 35.

The study started in November 2012 and so far ten of the subjects have delivered IVF babies. None of them have miscarried.

Doctors said they observed that acupuncture caused no complications to the women’s health during pregnancy.

Loc said once the study reaches a larger successful sample, the hospital will provide the therapy to all IVF cases at the hospital.

The doctors said many international studies have started to combine modern and traditional therapies in treating infertility, and it's inspiring the first such study from Vietnam had brought positive results.

A recent survey by Vietnam's National Ob-Gyn Hospital found that 7 percent of Vietnamese married couples in reproduction age suffer from infertility due to malformation of their related organs, inflammations or lifestyle habits such as too much drinking and smoking.

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