Background: Tubal obstructive infertility (TOI) is a challenging condition affecting many women worldwide. Acupuncture and herbal medicine have emerged as potential therapeutic options for enhancing fertility outcomes in these patients. However, the evidence regarding their efficacy remains inconclusive, necessitating a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis.
Method: Computer searches were conducted in PubMed, Cochrane, Embase, Web of Science, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), VIP Information, Wanfang Database, and China Biology Medicine (CBM) databases to retrieve relevant literature on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture and related therapies for the treatment of tubal obstructive infertility. The search period extended from the inception of the databases to December 2022.
Two researchers independently screened the literature based on strict inclusion criteria, extracted relevant data, and utilized Cochrane Collaboration tools and the Jadad scale to comprehensively assess the quality of the included studies. Subsequently, pairwise meta-analysis and network meta-analysis were performed using statistical software such as StataSE and Rstudio, and graphical representations were generated to present the results.
Result: The network meta-analysis included 1580 articles, with 23 meeting the criteria. These studies involved 2355 patients and explored 13 intervention measures. Acupuncture related therapies outperformed control interventions in improving pregnancy rates, tubal patency rates, and overall effectiveness while demonstrating a lower incidence of adverse events. Electroacupuncture + Chinese herbal medicine was identified as the most effective for pregnancy rates, moxibustion for tubal patency rates, and moxibustion+ acupuncture for overall effectiveness. The safety profile of acupuncture-related interventions was acceptable. These findings support acupuncture-related therapies as effective and safe options for tubal obstructive infertility management. Further high-quality research is needed to validate and expand upon these results.
Conclusion: These findings offer novel treatment strategies for acupuncture-related interventions, providing practitioners with evidence-based guidance. Addressing limitations through future research is crucial, including diverse literature, emphasizing higher-quality RCTs, and exploring a broader range of interventions with long-term follow-up data. Systematic assessment of adverse events, standardized techniques, and robust ranking methods should be considered.