Update on Research into IVF and Acupuncture

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) is once again pleased to see the use of acupuncture in fertility treatment in the news. In previous press releases we have reported on research that has found acupuncture treatment can have a positive effect on those trying for a baby and can actually aid the conception process. Over the past twenty years, fertility problems have increased dramatically. Studies suggest that as many as a quarter of couples in the UK planning a baby will have trouble conceiving. More and more couples are turning to fertility treatments to help them start a family.


The results presented by Dr Sunkara to the conference of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona (8th July) were widely reported. Unfortunately, not so widely reported were the results of a second study from the same conference by Dr Cheong et al which drew the opposite conclusion. Behind the headline statements lie some very important methodological factors such as which studies to include in the reviews and which patients each study included or excluded. Our own research experts at the Acupuncture Research Resource Centre are looking carefully at the details of each review to explain how very similar studies can draw such opposite conclusions and to see what we can learn from them.

Both of the reported studies were relatively small. The BAcC was delighted that the recently published report on the statutory regulation of acupuncture proposed that greater funding should be made available for research. We shall then be able to conduct larger studies which reflect how acupuncture is used in day to day practice. We confidently expect to see the anecdoctal evidence we hear all the time reflected in results which bear thorough academic scrutiny.

While we are always heartened by good research news, we always treat all results, both good and poor, with caution until we have had an opportunity for evaluation. We do remain encouraged, however, by the fact that more researchers than ever before are trying to establish that acupuncture works in ways which reflect how it is practised daily by thousands of practitioners in the UK, supporting the needs of their patients.

For further information, please contact Paul Joseph or Gemma Irvine on 0203 128 8131. or log onto www.acupuncture.org.uk

11th July 2008

About the BAcC:

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a membership of over 2,800 professionally qualified acupuncturists. It is the UK's largest professional body for the practice of acupuncture.

BAcC members practice a traditional, holistic style of acupuncture diagnosis and treatment based on a system developed and refined over 2,000 years. To achieve BAcC membership, practitioners must first undertake extensive training in traditional acupuncture (minimum three years full-time or part-time equivalent), which includes physiology, anatomy and other biomedical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture.

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